Today, I have Janaki Nagaraj of Memoirs of a Homemaker fame gracing my blog. She also has a photography blog, Vithika. I have known Janaki for years now. At least it feels like forever. Our friendship grew and developed over time. Though the qualities I admired about her of her warmth, openness, honesty and caring nature were apparent right in the beginning. I have seen her genuinely encourage and enjoy the success of others. She is the beacon of good news to many and is a refreshing change in the duplicity of this world with her disarming warmth and happy disposition. I have seen her writing grow and mature with time. She expresses herself fabulously both in prose and poetry. And, blogging has really found her a unique place under the sun. She recently got published in an anthology of poems. It gives me extreme pleasure in welcoming her here with this lovely, pensive piece…
“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.”
– Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution.
We all want to do good; give something back to the society. So, we do charity, give donations, give away alms, and distribute books, food and sweets, sometimes in remembrance of our departed elders. Probably we do all this to feel good about ourselves and score some brownie points with our Maker to balance our Karma. I am not mocking you all…because I do all this too. My point is, even though we all do good…goodness is scorned upon. If you are good or nice to people, which is your inherent quality, it is most likely that you will be called a people pleaser, goody-goody, Ms. Goody-two-shoes. There is a probability that you may even be called fake!
People these days look down upon people who say “Rama, Rama” or “Krishna, Krishna” but think very highly of people who say WTF! Or Shit! Some 14 times in a 15-word sentence. (Now, don’t WTF me, am just citing an example) I am no saint. I too judge people, but I also know that everyone is unique in their own way…so, I never over analyze them. I am as much grounded as anyone of you…my name conveys it all. 🙂
I had a friend. Our relationship ranged from practically living in each other’s house to bumping into each other very rarely. At some point in time, life became a bitch and she was in need of money. Her pride stopped her from asking me for loan. I, sensing that, helped her willingly. I felt good and her moist eyes conveyed gratitude.
I did not ask for the money when she started working. I did not want to ask. I wanted her to give it back on her own. More than a year later, when I was in need, I asked her. She gave me 90% of the amount. I did not mind. It was enough for me at that time. She did not return the balance even after she sold her property in her hometown. I assumed that she would be thoughtful like me.
A month back I messaged her saying that I wanted the money back. She said, “For some time now I have been thinking of returning it to you. I will give it to you tomorrow.” (She had thought about it but never got around to returning the money) The next day, she messaged me saying that she was tied up and said she would come the next day.
I replied – “It’s ok. Don’t stress. I have no problem.”
“Why do you always do that?” she asked me.
I was zapped. What did I do? Always! Let alone talking to her on a daily basis, we did not meet or talk even on a monthly basis. Our paths rarely crossed.
“Did I offend you?” I messaged back.
“You are always making me feel guilty,” was her reply. “You have this pattern. We all have patterns.”
Now, I was hurt beyond words. She had misconstrued my good intentions. If I could wait for more than 2 years for my money, another day was not going to hurt. If she has seen the ‘pattern’ in me, why did she not tell me when we were meeting everyday? Why did she pretend to like me all these years? And, why did she have to tell me this now, the way she did, when she was to give back the money she owed me?
We exchanged some messages, not so pleasant. Though she had said she could not come, she came home to give me the money. I was hurt to the point of infuriating. Then I did something I have never ever done in my life…I asked her to leave my house.
Undoubtedly, I was upset. She too was. Later that night she messaged me and apologized. (Why apologize when you are sure that you are right? To safeguard a non-existent relationship in the name of friendship?) She told me what was happening in her life. She wanted to make amends with me. But, something had snapped within me. I had never judged her, never interfered in her life, never asked how much she earned, never asked what she was doing, never poked my nose in her affairs. Then, why all this drama!
I was just being a friend while she was analyzing my motives and me. She did carry some emotional baggage; she had to deal with insensitive and selfish people…maybe she generalized everyone to be like that. She said I questioned her ‘loyalty’ to me if I invited her to my place every time we met and it made her guilty that she could not come to my place! She misunderstood plain courtesy. I was flabbergasted!
The damage was done. And I broke off my friendship with her. I was plain offended and I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong. While leaving my house she did plant that little insect (keeda) and it gnawed my insides…my brain and my conscience. Was I really that? Did I have some annoying patterns? Why had not anyone told me about this till now? Was every one being polite? Was I in denial? I then talked to my friends who I have known for years and asked them point blank. They said “NO”…you are not what she says. One of my friends restored my faith in myself. She said, “There is a lot of negativity and bad in this world. Good people are rare. Be yourself. “
I read this passage in the book – A Walk to Remember.
Jamie was the kind of girl who would pull weeds in someone’s garden without being asked or stop traffic to help little kids cross the road. She’d save her allowance to buy a new basketball for the orphans, or she’d turn around and drop the money into the church basket on Sunday. She was, in other words, the kind of girl who made the rest of us look bad, and whenever she glanced my way, I couldn’t help but feel guilty, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I am not comparing myself to Jamie. It is just that the actions of some people irritate the hell out of others even when they mean well. Why?
Why do people always search for some hidden motive if you are doing some good? And why do people put you down or taunt you in front of others in the name of fun? Why can’t they just see things as are they are instead of dissecting them way beyond recognition?
Do you have answers?