Chandni Chandel, writer

OPINIONMKAERS@The Hush Post: We tweak our egos, but never accept. It swells when we do something for others who are lesser 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, an orphanage or poor locality is perhaps too far, so let me just give them to the beggars on traffic lights or to the domestic help. In return, we also expect prayers and blessings from them or good work to be done if freebies are given to the maid.

When we face our competitors, anybody 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 big car, his son got through a good engineering college, her daughter wore a beautiful dress for her cousin’s wedding. These exclamations, even if we hear them in a joyful demeanour on the outside, inside our house is on fire. We suddenly get worked up, look for ways and means to boost our ego and when a suitable situation arises, we involve in self bloating. ‘My’ son got a job in an MNC (only the son knows how much he has to sacrifice to keep his job intact, and his and family’s ego too), my daughter she’s going to Europe for her further studies, I bought a small 3-bedroom flat in maybe Dwarka, Rohini, or upmarket Chandigarh. There is a very raw Haryanvi joke which nails it down quite succinctly. A man’s cycle got stuck in the middle of the road, it used to quite often, just then another Haryanvi passing by bruised his ego when he questioned, “See, your cycle’s got stuck again?” In his curt reply, he counter-questioned, “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 just left with a sense of pride, our ego gets decimated to a zero. “Ah! We met Dhoni at the airport, he waived at us (a hand shake is a far cry, the security and airport staff wouldn’t just let you be 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 because of our ego).Celebrities, politicians, big businessmen, globally renowned sportspersons, they wouldn’t bother about the not-so-great great Indian middle class. You are not crossing roads with any of them, a Priyanka Chopra 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 ( because of an official link-up), I saw Sachin Pilot, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Smriti Irani’ one might hear. They may appear simpletons, only till the time we don’t offend them. A word of disagreement and you will know, how simple they are. And one really has to be a commoner to ‘achieve’ any kind of a benefit or attention.

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 definitely will overbear our achievement or loss. As one of my friends succinctly put it after a peg of Old Monk one wintery night, I asked him why doesn’t he pursue his son into sports, 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 a good life”.

Just imagine the kind of compromises people make to show that they are grounded. “My husband is a big businessman, he arranges langars for the poor, he also took me to London for a holiday, he gifted our son a new Brio, though I told him give him a bigger one, 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, 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, you are not carrying any baggage of being someone, 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.’

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