The Best Thing We Never Want

Our list of wants is a long one. Sometimes there are more than one list. Often they are categorized under different heads. The list begins from the time we are born. But if you were to go further back, like, for instance, to the time you were nothing but an embryo – a gooey mass of cells and tissues tethered to your mom’s womb – our wants are not volitional at that stage. We merely carry surrogate wants of our parents. But let’s avoid that stage and keep it simple.

We unconditionally perpetuate the want of our parents of us getting into a good school. Then the wants begin coming one after another. We want good marks, good grades and to be promoted to the next class. Certain subjects of study draw extra wants – like, in my case, Chemistry – we want marks just enough to make us slip by a whisker from the clutches of a ‘fail’. We want ranks. Not just a rank, a better rank. Not just a better rank, better than XYZ rank. We want a good college to finish our education. We want to have a good time in college. We want to meet the person of our dreams in college. We want grades again. And ranks. So that our future is a clear vision with a prominent horizon. No hazy edges. We want the best first job with the best pay – matching ‘industry’ standards. We want a credit card. We orient ourselves so that we are facing the horizon with clean edges. We want to invest our earnings in a secure plan. We want to book our first car or flat. By now, most of us have secured that one want – a prospective partner. We want him or her to align their wants with our wants. Greater the alignment, more the horsepower to propel us in the direction of that clean horizon. We want a bigger house, better car, that hike, the promotion, a better job. We want good work timings. We want flexible work timings. The best holiday. We want a hotel room that’s overlooking the sea. Or the mountains. It must have a balcony. Room service mandatory. We want to be picked up and dropped from/to the airport/station.

We want that club membership. That lets us play tennis. Or swim. Or just have that subsidized peg of single malt. We want to try out the newest eateries, the fancy spa, the swanky nightclub. We want to strike up a conversation with that girl in the blue dress. Or the guy in the white shirt. We want to be dropped home. We want the glass of lime juice to nurse our hangover.

We want our wedding to be the lavishest. We want the best guest list. Hobnob with the rich and famous. Be seen. We want our photograph with our partner on our bedside table. We want it to be clicked by the best photographer. We want to buy the best leather bag. The peach lehenga. The ripped jeans. We want that Rolex. We want that Chambor matte in the shade of dull rose. Or dusty rose. Rusty reds.

We want to give birth at the right time. So that by the time we retire our offspring will be economically independent. We may want a boy or a girl. Prefer girl over boy or boy over girl. We want the name to start with an ‘S’ and end with an ‘A’. We want to give it the best education. Enroll in the best school. We want them to grow up fast so that we could be relieved from the burden of staying up late for what we have brought into this world. We want him or her to be like him or her in class. Get grades like him or her. Better than him or her. We want him or her to make us proud. We want him or her to choose a mate wisely. To get home on time. To eat properly. To not waste money. To be cultured and valued. Learn a language or two. They want that PlayStation. Or the iPad. They start wanting. We keep wanting.

We want to retire early. We want there to be enough for us to keep blooming despite brittle bones and sagging muscles. We want the age-defying cream. That appointment with the dermatologist. The last-ditch effort at the yoga class. The laughing club. The joggers’ lane.

We want our kids to marry well. We want them to marry him or her. We want them to marry better than them. We want to go on a quiet holiday. We want to go to Greece or maybe Rome. We want those senior citizens’ concessions. That bedroom with the East window. The little prayer room. The mahogany altar. Or maybe the marble one studded with LED lights that are hidden from view. “And, this is my prayer room.” We want to control diabetes. We want to have that extra-sweetened tea. Or that gulab jamun. We are chided by our children. And grand children. We want to be chided. We laugh. We cry. We want our pancreas to be treated in the best hospital. We want the suite with the big windows from where you can see the cars queuing at the traffic signal but cannot hear the blaring horns. We want silence. We want to watch television serials on repeat while the drip hangs and the monitors count our pulses. We want to see them one last time. We want to pass on in peace. “How do you want to die?” “I want to die in my sleep.” We want to be cremated by our eldest. Or our youngest. Secure that premium burial ground. We want to meet lost friends in heaven. Heaven. We want to go to heaven. We want that trust fund to continue in our name. We want to see that charitable institution operate smoothly. We want to see that orphanage built or the strays get some shelter. Or the property dispute settled. We want our children to settle that property dispute. Make peace. They want the will.

…And it goes on and on and on… over and over and over again…

The best thing that we never want is the best thing that can set us free.

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