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          Volume 10 |Issue 08 | February 25, 2011 |


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Do You Have the Gift?


We all have fantasies about being something that would be quite impossible in real life: an ace drummer in the most rocking of bands, a Grand Prix-winning car racer, an Oscar-grabbing actor, a rocket scientist, a master juggler, a sitar maestro, a professional clown. Not that there aren't people who have accomplished these dreams and hence they are no longer fantasies. But here, we are talking about the rest of us ordinary folk, who by the quirk of fate (not to mention a slight deficit in exceptional talent required to be in the genius category), have managed to survive adulthood without necessarily performing jaw-dropping feats. Yet that does not stop us from dreaming and imagining ourselves to be totally different people, under different circumstances of course. Sometimes, however, even the most ordinary person will find, that he/she possesses an extraordinary power that may or may not be of any use, though the potency of the unexpected 'gift' is certainly worth ruminating about.

Take the editor of a magazine who finds that she has an amazing power to get people to yawn, just by uttering a few words. No matter how sizzling the gossip or how hilarious the joke, within seconds of the sound of her rather droning, low-keyed voice, her audience will be struggling hard to stifle a yawn. At first she found it a bit insulting since it indicated an inherent boring streak in her persona that she could never have suspected, being under the delusion that she was quite the entertainer most of the time. Then she became quite disheartened and filled with self-doubt. After all, how could she possibly motivate her team if they fell asleep every time she spoke? These days she has become a lot more positive and sees this ability as a rare gift. She has begun to use it to her advantage narrating an anecdote to her teenaged daughter when she refuses to leave her Facebook community to go to bed, helping with her spouse's insomnia by recounting her day and occasionally warding off unwanted attention at social gatherings and waiting areas of clinics where people are unnaturally nosy.

Unfortunately, it is not always a happy ending. Sometimes this unnecessary power can cause a lot of pain. This same person swears she has another gift - whenever she looks at someone they trip and almost fall. Now many of you may think that she is an evil character who can will people to fall and hurt themselves. But it is actually quite the opposite. It is always when she inadvertently looks at someone that this unfortunate fall occurs. Being human, she did try to trip over certain people who had not been very pleasant to her but alas, it doesn't work that way. It seems the power is triggered randomly and till now she has absolutely no control over it and despite repeated efforts not to make anyone trip, she has not been able to prevent the sudden loss of balance and near fall which in Bengali is called 'Usht-tha Khawa'.

Another power certain otherwise-quite-ordinary individuals have is to be the death of any party. They have a knack of ruining even the most fool-proof, happening, social gathering you can think of. Say it's an adorable three-year-old's birthday bash and the doting parents have gone all out with the ginger bread house cake, the blue and pink balloons and the amazing magician who thrills the crowd of youngsters with enthralling tricks. This is when Mr Killjoy will dryly remark to one bright-eyed youngster that none of it is real magic and that the coins are all inside the sleeves. Or say, at a lovely, sumptuous family dinner, the hostess has painstakingly cooked, Ms Killjoy will announce: “Oh you know I just saw a documentary today on how these kind of foods can clog up your arteries and give you a massive heart attack.” Perhaps she's just plain vicious, perhaps she's a complete idiot. Perhaps she has a 'gift'.

Another example how even ordinary people can have extraordinary powers is a woman with an incorrigible sweet tooth who, apparently when she has a strong craving for say, mint-chocolate chip ice-cream or gurer kheer, somehow or the other, has her wish granted. She insists however, that the 'power' is effective only in the case of sweets, with almost zero potency regarding other beloved items such as phuchka, potato chop or pizza although she still believes that someday even savoury items will be within reach of her ‘invisible shield’.

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