What If………..I could read minds?
‘Jab bhi ji chahe nayi duniya basaa lete hein log, Ek chehre pe kaee chehre laga lete hain log’. A popular song from the super hit Yash Chopra film ‘Daag’ always intrigues me.
Man is the finest of God’s creation, they say. And yet perhaps, the most dangerous. A dog wags its tail when it is happy. Snarls at you when it is angry. As simple as that. It will not wag its tail and beckon you and then suddenly, when you come close, bite you.
Even a much feared animal like the tiger makes its intentions clear. It chases its prey, kills it and devours it. No fake claims of kindness or affection there.
But Man; now that’s another story all together. Man can wear the mask of affection, love, respect and then stealthily stab you in your back. Before you know it, you are dead meat. How interesting it would be if I had the power to see through this deceit. What if…… I could read minds?
With these thoughts running in my mind, I fell asleep one lazy Sunday afternoon. Suddenly I felt someone waking me from my deep slumber. “Chai is ready madam,” said Malati, my man Friday. I looked at her with sleepy eyes and smiled, thinking for the umpteenth time, how lucky I was, to have such a loyal employee.
“Get off the bed you lazy bum, I have to change the sheets.” Who said that? I wondered. There was nobody in the room except Malathi and me. I felt then that I must be dreaming.
I dragged myself off the bed and donned my walking clothes and shoes. Time to hit the promenade. My friend Nisha joined me. “Are you coming for Nidhi’s party tomorrow?” she asked smiling. “You would never miss a chance to socialise.” I looked up startled. Nisha flashed her innocent smile at me. Who had spoken just now? And had Nisha not heard it? She didn’t show any signs of having heard anything. So how was it that only I had distinctly heard a voice? It sounded so similar to Nisha’s. I shrugged and we began walking.
“Arre udhar dekh toh mein teri bag leke satak lu,” I heard someone behind me exclaim. I turned in surprise to see an unkempt man trying to slyly do away with a young girl’s sling bag. Instinctively, without thinking, I reached out and clasped his hand. Alarmed, he broke free from my grasp and scooted. The girl looked at me and smiled gratefully. I just nodded.
In that instant it dawned upon me. I had heard the thief thinking aloud although no one else obviously had. What I had always wished for was finally coming true. I could read minds. I had read both Malati’s and Nisha’s thoughts too.
Completely baffled, I decided to further test my prowess.
On reaching home, I saw my husband Aman, lying on the bed, his face mirroring pain.
“What happened Aman?” I asked with concern. “My stomach is really hurting,” he replied. “Do we have to go to your mom’s place for dinner?”
I began to reply that it was perfectly fine not to go, when I heard a voice. “Hope she believes me, these dinners are always so boring.”
Oh, so this was just an act to evade the dinner. “Darling, I have just the thing for your stomach ache. Rita masi gave it to me.” I went into the kitchen and grated some bitter karelas, and squeezed them to remove their juice. I then took the glass to Aman, and innocently presented it to him. Amongst strong protests, I managed to pour it down my poor hubby’s throat.
He could only whimper in protest, not knowing what had hit him.I was thoroughly enjoying my new- found power.
Co-incidentally, I had my kitty party on the same day. Now this was something I was so looking forward to. Reading the minds of so many women at one go was going to be fun.
I was aware that I had to take extra care while dressing up for this pseudo set of friends. I had secretly named them ‘The LV gang’. With their crazy obsession with all things Brand, they ripped to shreds, anyone who did not adhere to their standards of dressing. Behind all the glitz and glamour, one may be intellectually challenged, but one just had to get the look right.
I reached the swanky venue, and was immediately sucked into the vortex of saccharine sweet smiles and air kissing. Everyone looked so happy to meet each other.
Then the drama began.
Shweta Kapoor came forward to hug me. “You’re getting younger day by day,” she exclaimed. As I opened my mouth to thank her, the words froze in my mouth. “Sabko Botox karana hai, Just can’t age gracefully,” I heard her think. I rolled my eyes and muttered a barely audible ‘thank you’ before turning my attention to the others.
Rhea, a friend who had recently got divorced was now the centre of attention. “How does it feel to be on your own after so many years Rhea?” asked Roma, the lady with strong maternal instincts that came to the fore, each time she saw someone from the group in trouble. “Well Roma, it is difficult, but I am trying to cope.” “Where does Amish give me time to think about my ex-husband? He is all over me, all day.” I was reading Rhea’s mind now. So all those rumours of her having an affair with her gym trainer were indeed true. All the time that she portrayed the image of the victim, she was in fact the person at fault.
The world of pretence and deceit was slowly unfolding in front of me.
Shweta, the pious one whose fasts and religious yatras were the topic of discussion at our parties turned out to be a closet kleptomaniac.
Maybe she felt that if Lord Krishna could get away with stealing butter, then it must not really be a sin.
I saw her eyeing each person’s branded tote, gauging whose would be the most loaded. Whether, she finally mustered the courage or got the opportunity to put her thoughts into action, I would really never know. But her train of thoughts was evident to me.
The cacophony had reached its peak. I could hear what was being said and also what was being thought. The disparity between the two left me baffled. Like chameleons, they portrayed images of people they were nowhere even close to being.
Where were the loyalty, integrity and love that poets swore by?
I returned home, completely disillusioned. That night, as I lay in bed, lost in thought, my loving husband engulfed me in a warm embrace. I heard him think, “How I love her!” Phew. I heaved a sigh of relief.
There was still hope in this world. Somewhere in the din and stench of human existence, Love, affection and loyalty did manage to creep in.
I snuggled gratefully and fell into a deep slumber.
Next morning, I woke up to a new day with renewed hope. Malathi came in with my steaming cup of coffee. “Madam, do you want to have your favourite biscuits too? I remembered to get them from the market last evening.” I smiled back warmly, but remembering my previous experience with her, I fell silent. I tried, once again to read her thoughts. I could hear nothing. Gratefully, I sipped the delicious coffee and nibbled on the biscuits.
Had the occurrences of yesterday been a dream? A manifestation of my deep desire to understand the human psyche?
Did I truly enjoy the experience? Or did it leave me disillusioned?
With these thoughts running in my mind, I met my friend Sneh, that evening. At the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I described my surreal experience to her. “Sneh, how does one trust anybody these days? Yet, I would never want to completely lose trust. I would like to believe in my family and friends.”
Sneh smiled her enigmatic smile, and said, “You know something? When a jeweller makes jewellery, he has to always add some cheaper metal to the gold, to be able to make it. Pure gold can never be moulded into a jewel. Yet, can you refute the fact that there is a lot of gold in that jewel? Man, too is a combination of the good and the bad. If he were to be a paragon of virtue, he would cease to be human. He would then be God.”
“But Sneh, how do I separate the wheat from the chaff? How do I judge, whom I can believe and whom I cannot?” I asked animatedly.
“Experience, my dear. Some people come into our lives as blessings and some as lessons. Either way, the benefit is ours,” she replied.
I felt a burden lift from my chest. Sneh, had indeed soothed my frayed nerves with her sensible words. I realised, that there is truly no black or white in this world. Only shades of grey.
Being careful in my interactions with others was one thing, being a skeptic, quite another. Let me believe in the basic goodness of human beings, and accept that there will be badness too.
I no longer wish to read minds.
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