Friday, January 29, 2010

OLD HABITS

Some things, in life, do not change... our old habits, particularly.

I remember a childhood incident. Our eighth-standard academic year had just started. A cousin sister of mine had newly joined a school nearby, for seventh standard. I knew some girls in her new class, and I did not like them. So, I began to act as my sister's protective elder brother. I gave her advice - what to do and what not to do in her new school, who is good and who is bad, whom she should befriend and whom she should shun. "Those three girls are bad; don't become friendly with them... They will spoil you," I counselled her, in good faith. Then, I added those 'famous' words of caution: "But, don't tell that I told you this!"

Exactly after three days, one evening, the three girls with whom I had great allergy, gheraoed me outside my school. "What did you tell your cousin sister about us? We are bad? Not to become friendly with us? We will spoil her?" they screamed at me as other boys from my school gathered around. "No, no. I did not tell like that," I began to save my skin. "Don't tell lies, you coward," they warned me, and went away. The boys around me had good fun, as I lost all my steam.

That was in my village in Mangalore... and that was about thirty-seven years ago.

Here, in Mumbai, about a month back, another incident took place. I shared with a lady whom I knew very, very well some information about another lady whom she hated. This was done in one of our casual discussions, and all in good faith. But, then I did add those 'famous' words of caution: "Keep it to yourself... It is only between you and me!"

And, as they say, "History repeats itself," - exactly after three days, one evening, this lady, about whom I had shared a certain information, confronted me. "What did you tell her about me?..."

"Where is she, call her?" This time, I had some steam in me. "Let her tell that in front of me."

Somehow, I instinctively knew, that the lady - with whom I had such good rapport, and shared a few things so right and in such good faith - would not dare to face me. And, she didn't. This lady vented out her irritation for a while, and then went her way.

I had become wild at my cousin sister, after that school incident. Now, I became wild at this lady, too. "Damn it. One should never try to help anybody,"... This is exactly how I felt in both the situations. But, then... Yes, but then!

I could laugh at these incidents... I could laugh at myself. "Some things, in life, do not change," I consoled myself. "Particularly, our old habits. The dog's tail."


GERALD D'CUNHA

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