This post has been in the making for some time and finally was triggered by a recent exchange of mails between me and a very perceptive and dear friend. I hope that this is the catharsis that will bring about some badly needed change.
A little background. My friend had been hard of hearing for many years and only about a year ago was fitted with hearing aids after a successful surgery for cochlear transplant. The two of us meet infrequently but exchange mails and SMS messages often.
The exchange was triggered off by a reference to a book by my friend who wanted me to check out and if found interesting enough to buy it. I checked it out, found it not up to my current levels of interest in the subject of social psychology, and advised him about it. That led to another set of exchanges, starting with this:
“Rather surprised. The impression I took away from my last visit to you was of someone increasingly impatient with appearances. On the other hand your blog suggests that the Tambram in you wont go without a Nobel. Perhaps the breaks that arise so subtly in our dialogue are due to this. (Tambram is short for Tamil Brahmin, the community to which I belong. For a great write up on the community, you can read a literary icon of India, Kushwant Singh here.) My friend suggests that despite many dissimilarities with the stereotype, my innate Tambram qualities come out unexpectedly and with some impact on the immediate neighborhood!
“The dialogue that I refer to is with with one of the many yous. The you on the gaddi ( Gaddi is the ceremonial chair that Gurus sit on.) at the moment is said to be the Sage of Kalyaninagar but I have a feeling that he has been installed there by a you that’s in rebellion against another you. You’re quite a complicated guy!” ( I live in Kalyani Nagar, a suburb of Pune, and my friend lives in St. Patrick’s Town, another suburb, about fifteen Kms away)
I responded with this message:
“I yield to the sage of St. Patrick’s Town. I am complicated only to those who try to find hidden agendas in me! I simply do not have any. I wear my heart on my sleeve as it were! This being so unusual that people tend to find me a very complicated fellow!”
This led to some more exchanges which are not relevant to this topic, but ended with this message:
“My mistake, incurred in the course of conversations in the pre-cochlear days. Reinforced by the evidence of Tambram irregularities. Seriously speaking though, you do appear to be groping your way through some inarticulate crisis. Obviously something to do with your wife’s demise but more than that at the same time.”
The last paragraph is very perceptive of my friend. I have been noticing a tendency to be short tempered and easily annoyed in the recent past. Today, at lunch, an innocuous statement by my father sent me off into orbit and it took me some time to cool down and get back to my normal self.
Some post lunch meditation and introspection helped me to identify the problem of a simmering “Why me-itis”. I have now been a caregiver for nine years and perhaps it is natural to want out. After my wife’s passing away in March, I have been focused on looking after my father and perhaps have over done that. Yet, present compulsions prevent any drastic decisions towards achieving that status of wanting out. This is the possible reason for the “inarticulate crisis”. I am not a psychologist, but this makes sense to me. Between my father and me, “Status Anxiety”, each coming from Head of the Household positions into a unavoidable yet a new equation is upsetting to both. This in turn is perhaps making me appear as I do to my friend.
I need to work on that understanding a bit, lest I end up being a care receiver instead of a care giver. This possibility was advised to me by my late wife’s Cardiologist who warned me to live my life too. I have not been doing that the way I can, and I think that I should now change.
I wonder if I will be nominated for the Nobel for introspection and blogging about it! The Tambram in me will then be satiated.