Over the last few days, I have been going through something strange and inappropriate to an extent where I find it uncomfortable to admit it even to myself.
I don’t know how much of Indian screen you and your people have watched over the decades, but I hope you have so you can understand exactly what I’m talking about. In the 80’s and 90’s Bollywood movies and a few TV serials, they portrayed this cheesy concept where two thumb-sized lookalikes of the protagonist hovered over his/her head – one in white with a halo and one in black with horns. Each of them posed their melodramatic arguments about the predicament at hand and the verdict was given after the protagonist and the audiences were tortured enough. Growing up, I stacked it away in the file of ‘all things cheesy to be made fun of and to be used in jokes with just the right timing’. The last few days, however, there has been a sardonic cackle in my ear and a “Let’s hear you now, smart-ass!” to go with it. To cut a really long internal reasoning and justification session short – the past few days, I’ve been torn between my worry for someone (let’s start calling him Gen. D here onwards to make things simpler) and my jealousy and insecurity related to him.
There – it’s out! Maybe, it really isn’t that big a deal. Maybe, it is a trivial human occurrence not worth mentioning or discussing after all; let alone writing an entire postcard to you about. From where I see it, it just isn’t right. This is exactly when I need my love to conquer all else, especially in the light of all that Gen. D has gone through and is still going through. And somehow these are exactly the times when jealousy and insecurity choose to strike. I am uncomfortable with myself as I write this to you; but I love writing just as much as those I love the most in my life, so if I’m going to get anywhere with it, I need to begin by being a 100% honest with it.
Speaking of honest writing, there was a genius I’m reminded of by the name of Frank Richard Stockton, who wrote a story that we studied in the tenth grade – ‘The Lady, or the Tiger?’. It’s the tale of a semi-barbaric king who settled all matters of justice by putting his accused in an arena with two identical doors. One hid a cruel, starving tiger waiting to eat him and the other a beautiful blushing damsel waiting to marry him – both ready to become the fate of the accused and render him innocent or guilty, depending on who he chose to let out. And of course, they were never behind the same doors twice, so as to truly leave the accused to his fate while the subjects watched with bated breath. When the princess’s lover was disclosed to be one of the court men, the same trial awaited him. Except, this time around, the princess had found out which door hid the tiger and which the lady; as her lover knew she would. There was no chance she would get to be with him but would she rather watch him devoured or happily married to a beautiful woman, who incidentally had been seen admiring him and trying to flirt with him in earlier times? A lot of her turmoil has been captured too well before bringing us to the day when her lover finally stood in that cursed arena and looked at her silently asking her which door and she pointed to the one at her right.
Being the sadist that writers are known to enjoy being sometimes, Mr. Stockton ended the story with the question – ‘Which came out of the opened door, — the lady, or the tiger?’ We poor, troubled tenth graders, who loved a great story and were so curious by then that we had been gnashing our teeth in anticipation for a good five minutes, we groaned and scoffed at the ending while silently abusing him in our hearts.
Back then, the answer was simple when I put myself in her shoes. To put it in his words, I didn’t have the ‘moiety of barbarism’ in my nature. I was a civilized individual brought up with values and always aspiring secretly to be awarded for my commendable disposition with a halo and wings. ‘Let him get married to someone else as long as he’s alive and happy’, I would say with my saintly nose up in the air. Now, that I have experienced how ugly jealousy and insecurity could get, so far, I conclude that all human beings (except saints probably) have that ‘moiety of barbarism’ in their nature.(I mean I love and respect Mother Teresa; but she might have had a secret vase-smashing, hair-tearing moment or two in life herself, for all you know.)
Fortunately/unfortunately, love has taught me well to stick to my answer even now if such a situation ever arises; it’s just not as clean, carefree and saintly a verdict as it used to be when I had the audacity and liberty to look down upon some of the evil attributes that escaped Pandora’s open box. Damn you, Pandora! Who asked the foolish lady to let her curiosity get the better of her against wiser (and strict!) warnings? What good came of it? Hope? Even hope is unbelievably evil and sadistic sometimes – possibly more evil than the other attributes that came out of the box. You’d be surprised!
Although, if there wasn’t any jealousy and insecurity at all, nobody would know how much someone means to them and how much they don’t want to lose someone. It means you hope for more with someone. So that I’ll give you, Pandora. That I really will..
Ok so here goes – I am jealous! Of the other women who worry about Gen. D, because of any romantic feelings or any signs of romantic inclination they might have towards him. And it’s just wrong! What’s even more wrong is the way in which I tell myself off – whatever their intention, they must be wishing him well and praying for him, and good wishes and prayers we could really use right now. It’s an extremely selfish way to look at things, devoid of all compassion towards another human being who might be going through exactly what I’m going through, if not more.
But now that I’ve written about it to you, world, and let the evil out of my box, I’m hoping. Hoping, not to redeem myself and bargain for stock clearance in the wings and halo department, but to be able to focus on the more important thing – love. Anyway, that’s all for today.
Love (I hope!),
PS – Think and answer as honestly as you can – Which would you choose? The lady, or the tiger?