Premchand, he's the Shakespeare of Hindi Literature. As a kid, I read many of his short stories and long essays to improve my vocabulary in the language. One of my favorites is still a mystery in many ways as I encounter the same story again and again, every time I try to advise my innocent friend.
Premchand's story lead works at a government office in rural India. He talks about this very irreproachable peon in his office. The peon is as innocent as a cow - keeps away from office politics, never gives/accepts bribes and is a very hardworking man. He makes very little money but stays happy with his hard-earned pennies and caters a small family in a small house in the village. He never fancies big cars and pompous things because he knows, he cannot afford it. He believes "It is better to suffer the wrong rather than inflict the wrong". He is genuinely happy with the little materialistic world he spawns around him until he meets the author's lead.
The lead feels sorry (or pity should I say) for the poor peon. He knows everyone in office accepts bribes are so rich! They don't care about their job and just want to stack cash in the shortest possible time. He calls the peon to his office, and tells him, "You are such an idiot, you are so susceptible to bullying. You let opportunities pass by you." and he teaches the peon how to make more money in less time. The lead of the story thinks he is just helping the peon become a better person by equipping him with daily tricks to living a more comfortable life.
Now the lead goes to business trip for a few months and when he comes back, he is left speechless. The peon who would not utter a word when his salary was never raised, now is the head of all peons. He is suddenly no more that passive hard-working man but an arrogant, rude, fat-tummied bastard. He's crazy rich with his wealth multiplying as every hour passes. Heck of all things, people salute him! And the lead is left wondering... "Did I do the right thing?"
I have a friend, with whom I am open enough to point out his mistakes. I have a younger brother, who is such a cow himself. My dad, he must have never bitten an inch more than what he could chew. All these three men, in their own little worlds are so so innocent. So much more than me. They don't have any grudges in their hearts. They believe in hard work and nothing else. For them, to some extent, even getting favors due to being social is wrong. They have their diaries clean and don't have the "basic common sense" that I, as a smart cunning woman would call it.
To cite some crude examples, they say things like "I cannot afford it" to colleagues when they go shopping for a meager amount. Instantly, the thought runs in my head - I wouldn't buy that myself. Its not worth the price. But would I say that so honestly to a colleague? He would judge me so hard that I am buying cheaper milk. I would rather say, I don't like that brand or make up something like that.
So many such instances, when I want to hold their hand, and tell them - shut up! Don't be so innocent! Be foxy!
But then I fear, do I want to transform them into people they were not meant to be? Am I asking them to give up their niceness, their very quality of being so simple that I adore? Would it be worth the price? Sure as hell they would be hailed more social than before, but why should I ask them to adorn that mask? These are the very people who make me expose my real side to them. I don't fear telling them things shamelessly as they are. And then all the other times, I make up shit. But them, they are always so to-the-point. They have their priorities set, they don't give a fuck in the truest sense. And I am asking them to start doing pointless things. I won't deny these very pointless things are what bring me some good favors here and there but its such a huge trade-off. Selling my real self and thoughts for a thing or two? What kind of help is that? What kind of advice is that?
A dilemma that I will always have,
because that very cunning nature is instilled in me already. I don't mean any bad to anyone but I can just get away with anything.. But should I really suggest my dear ones the same? Will I be making a mistake as Premchand's lead did?
What do you think?