LIFE STYLE
WHEN YOUR EGO GETS BRUISED
You want to be an ‘I’? Or would love to be a ‘You’?
- CHANDANI CHANDEL*
You want to be an ‘I’? Or would love to be a ‘You’?



WE TWEAK OUR EGOS, but never accept. It swells when we do something for others who we perceive are inferior to us, may be in age, status, intelligence, economic standing, or material possessions. We always want to show our humanitarian side when piles of old worn-out clothes pile up in our almirahs and we don’t want to throw them away, and realising that an orphanage or poor locality is perhaps too far, we think about just giving these away to beggars on traffic lights or to our domestic help. But then, in return, we also expect prayers and blessings from them or want our beneficiary house maid to return the favour by working even harder in lieu of the freebies.
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A Haryanvi's cycle got stuck in the middle of the road, and when a passerby bruised the peddler’s ego by asking how his cycle got stuck, the man fired a repartee that squelched it better than any Oscar Wilde. "So what? Wasn’t that your daughter who eloped with a boy last year?” 
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When we face our competitors, people at par with us, then our ego gets bruised; you get hurt, one way or the other.  ‘I’ have to get ahead’, ‘oh he’s got a bigger car’, ‘his son got through a good engineering college’, ‘her daughter wore a beautiful dress for her cousin’s wedding.’ All these exclamations, even if we hear these in a joyful tone, deep inside our house is on fire. We suddenly get worked up, look for ways and means to boost our own ego and when a suitable situation arises, we indulge in bloating our self. ‘My’ son got a job in an MNC (only the son knows how much he has to sacrifice to keep his job secure, and his and the family’s ego, too!), ‘my’ daughter is going to Europe for higher studies, ‘I’ bought a small 3-bedroom flat in Dwarka, or Rohini, or in some upscale Chandigarh area. There is a quintessentially raw Haryanvi joke which nails it down quite succinctly. A man’s cycle got stuck in the middle of the road, as it used to quite often, but it was another Haryanvi passing by who bruised the peddler’s ego when he posed an inane query meant to hurt: "Oh I see! Your cycle’s got stuck again?” Back came the repartee that squelched it better than an Oscar Wilde. "So what? Wasn’t that your daughter who eloped with a boy last year?” 

When it comes to high-end achievers, our ego just fizzles out. We are left with only a sense of pride, our ego stands decimated to a zero. "Ah! We met Dhoni at the airport, and he waived at us! (A hand shake is a far cry, the security and airport staff wouldn’t just let you anywhere close). He’s so humble, down to earth.” 
 
To be at the receiving end of their attention, we really need to be just a common man (which, in usual circumstances, we are not, courtesy our ego). Celebrities, politicians, big businessmen, globally renowned sportspersons, none of them bother about the not-so-great great Indian middle class. You are not crossing paths with any of them. A Priyanka Chopra’s or a Deepika Padukone’s interests might clash with each other but they are not competing with you, there’s no commonality anywhere, except if there’s an ‘achiever’ tag. They might shed their ‘achiever’ tag for a while, for a few days may be, but not for all times. 
 
"Oh, ‘I’ went to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (as part of an official assignment), I saw Sachin Pilot/Rahul Gandhi/Narendra Modi/Smriti Irani — one might hear. They may appear simpletons, but only till the time we don’t offend them. A word of disagreement and you will find out how simple they are. And one really has to be a commoner to ‘achieve’ any kind of benefit or attention.
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"Why do we always have to run after this middle-class trap of brilliance? Can’t you be a common man leading a jolly good life?”.
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We are always engulfed in an aura of some sense of achievement, irrespective of the middle class rung we belong to. Yes, achievement it is, that is why we are not beggars. If we repeatedly keep zooming into the fall or rise of our evolution graph, we will definitely overbear our achievement or loss. A friend of mine put it succinctly after a peg of Old Monk one wintery night. When asked why he doesn’t push his son to pursue sports since he might excel, his answer set me thinking. He said, "Why do we always have to run after this middle-class trap of brilliance? Can’t you be a common man leading a jolly good life?”

Just imagine the kind of compromises people make to show that they are grounded. "My husband is a big businessman, and arranges langar for the poor. He also took me to London for a holiday, and gifted our son a new Brio, though I urged him to let him have a bigger one as he also has his reputation at stake, but he did not listen!” Another one says, "I am sending my daughter to Bangalore for her graduation, though she wanted to go to Canada for higher studies. But I said no, it’ll be very costly; you study here, we will get a sponsored seat, air travel and everything else, including a car.”

If your achievement, however small, does not affect you, then you are not carrying any baggage of being someone, or somebody’s son, daughter, or relative. Being someone helps temporarily, but being nothing, helps always. Being nothing means ‘no ego’. You don’t have any accomplishment to call your own, even if in the worldly sense there is. You can only feel love, and an aspiration to compete against yourself and your fears. Slowly, those fears, too, become irrelevant. And you are you, not ‘I.’
 
(courtesy: thehushpost.com)
 
(*The author is a Ludhiana-based independent writer.)
 

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