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    Volume 8 Issue 80| July 31, 2009 |

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Twisted Lessons of Life

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence and every experience, no matter how mortifying, is a lesson. These are the wise words of most philosophically-inclined well wishers. It is the best way to justify the humiliation and trauma of events one regrets and wishes to erase from their brains (plus other people's) forever. Because almost always the only person one can blame for that wish-it-never-happened incident, is invariably, oneself.

Take the time when one is practising chipmunk lingo which involves creating a squeaky cartoon-like voice with a 'like-minded' (some cruelly will say, equally demented) friend, in the middle of an office day. It is when the voices have synchronised to a perfect, C sharp crescendo that the boss will appear out of nowhere and unsmilingly ask: 'Is everything alright?'

So what's the lesson in this, pray tell. That one should not practice squeaky, alien voices at work that will make the boss question the sanity of his/her employees that may lead to their pre-mature retirement? Or, the most optimistic, if not twisted rationale: It was actually a good thing. Now he knows that his employees have other talents and hence are in high demand, even if it is in the market for animation voice overs for furry-tailed creatures.

There are other situations that make it difficult to forgive oneself or see the beauty behind the utter stupidity. Like when your fourteen-year-old asks you "I want to see the eclipse, it's on July 22, please can we go and see it?" Without a bat of an eyelid, you, the sensible parent cries out "That's not possible, they haven't even shown Twilight yet!" While the teenager is expressing a desire to witness one of the most momentous events in history, the mother thinks this is a reference to 'Eclipse' the sequel to the teen-hit book turned movie about vampires in love with humans, 'Twilight'. Here the lesson is quite clear: Stop reading your kid's books. Get your own.

Sometimes, however, there are events that are so bizarre that in no way can one anticipate, even if one was a genius or clairvoyant. They just happen as a consequence of one event and a kind of domino effect plays out all on its own. Here is an example. A woman professional gets an award from an organisation, it's an honour but she is one of those awkward-types who likes public attention as much as an errant student likes a physics pop quiz. But she must go through this task with grace. She arrives at the venue in her best and most conspicuous sari (bright orange) and intends to delicately step through the opening at the gate when Bang, she collides head-on with the edge of solid iron gate. She is seeing stars and there is a strange buzzing permeating through her head but there is no scope for howling in agony as twenty pairs of eyes are looking, some amused, others a little horrified. Just then a colleague breezes by cheerfully congratulates the awardee who grimaces through her excruciating pain. The next hour or so is spent in a daze and she even manages to receive the award, shake hands with the dignitary who presents it and walks down the stage without even a stumble.

It is when a venerable person who is umpteen times senior than her in terms of accomplishments who starts talking to her, that her brain starts to play tricks with her sanity. She is all awkward again, her head is throbbing and she just wants to disappear, she starts fidgeting and tries to find something to lean on while maintaining eye-contact with the VIP talking to her. Her hand feels something solid, it is a table of sorts and she rests her hand, trying to lean on one side. The sound of the person talking becomes dimmer and dimmer, she realises that the 'table' feels weird, perhaps it is the table cloth. A slight glance towards the object awakens her to the sheer horror of her actions. The table is not a table. It is a body part that happened to be there because some man was bending over to pick up some brochures from the corner! It is pointless to describe the turmoil of emotions that went through her although she wondered later why that fool did not say anything or at least quickly get up instead of enduring such abuse. Then again perhaps some things are better left not analysed. Here at least there is a simple lesson: When you bang your head into a semi-concussion state, go to a doctor; don't try looking for tables to lean on.


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