When something (or someone) becomes accessible, it tends to lose its value. People either exploit it, or they toss it aside. Or they take it all for granted.
What happens when you give away free services?
My Dad, an ophthalmologist, has always dedicated every Wednesday towards helping the poor. India has a lot of people that can not afford to pay for the basics – we also have a lot of homeless people and no matter how you try to help, this problem doesn’t seem to go away. You can only start small and my Dad has always done his bit. And he still is. So this one day of the week, people that can’t afford to get themselves treated, come over and they get help. It’s usually a long, long day for him and his employees, always has been, but there will always be someone that’ll come over and say, “I need to get complimentary treatment because I know the Doctor personally.” And this usually happens right before lunch break or before we’re trying to close down for the day. And this person is usually always someone that comes from means.
And my Dad is a good person and always obliges.
My problem with the whole thing is this “intimacy” mixed in with a great deal of audacity that makes people feel like they’re allowed to walk in at any time of day, and demand for things, even though they can afford it. And a hundred percent of the times, they’re someone my Dad has met like once, in passing. How do you deny someone when they’re being so free treatment about it? You can’t. And India is HUGE on the whole making “everyone their relative” thing. So everyone you meet is your uncle or auntie or brother or sister. There’s no concept of Sir or Ma’am. It’s always Dada, Didi, Chacha, Chachi, the whole nine yards. This is also one of the reasons why Indian weddings are so big. The list of fake relatives is endless.
I’m probably being hypocritical at this point because my ex happened to spend a lot of money on gifts to me and I’ve taken them. I shouldn’t have, I know, but it felt nice to be pampered. And unfortunately, me giving away all of whatever was gifted to me won’t help me or the image this person has of me anyway, and it won’t even dissipate the hatred he’s got towards me but I’m trying to be a good person. At least, I’m trying to be a better person anyway. And this was one of the many reasons why I started teaching kids English three days a week.
I don’t charge any money and I also provide them with stationery and I do everything I can to help. But here’s the thing:
I feel like nobody really ever meets you halfway. Like I said earlier, when you give away something for free, people don’t value it. My problem with this whole thing is that I genuinely love to teach. I love to introduce these kids to new authors whenever I can. Because, books are amazing and there’s no end to the whole exploring journey, right? But how am I supposed to instill this whole love of books into these guys if they constantly miss my classes? They all have access to cell phones or some means of communication, and they never call or inform me via text that they’re not going to be turning up. And I cancel everything and prep my lessons and I wait like a dumb fool and the evening passes and they’re a no-show.
The funniest bit here is that it’s always the parents of my students that have approached me to help their kids. And I’m not someone that would ever say no because, I do genuinely love to teach. For the umpteenth time. The rules are simple. There’s only one rule: if you want it, be ready to accept it. You can’t expect someone to force-feed you if you don’t want to learn. And then nobody blames the students really, it’s always the teacher’s fault. It’s so easy to overlook the fact that the teacher tries hard to be sincere but the students don’t want to be taught. And you can’t refuse lessons because it’ll make you look like the bad guy when it’s not even your fault to begin with.
It’s just that sometimes I feel like maybe they would have taken me a lot more seriously if they were actually paying me. Maybe my time and my efforts and my energy would have meant a little more to them then. Not that I care about money, it’s just that a little show of appreciation would have been enough. I don’t want to be someone they’re doing favors for.
The same thing happens when you sponsor a kid’s education. Most of the times, they’re never happy or they never say thank you. It’s the lack of gratefulness that bites the most. How difficult is that? Which brings me to the next leg of my article:
“LOG KYA KAHENGE?”
One of the WORST things about living in India is becoming the subject of gossip. Log kya kahenge or “Yikes, what will people say” is something that’s solidly and steadfastly prevented every Indian, at some point, from doing something they would’ve gone ahead and accomplished had it not been for the society. Or the community.
• You cannot charge money if you’re teaching your colleague’s child. Or babysitting a neighbor’s son three days a week. You cannot.
• You cannot NOT invite your mum’s best friend’s aunt to your wedding.
• You cannot have an opinion that differs from theirs because tauba tauba, are you mental?
And the list goes on.
Also, since it’s World Environment Day today, it doesn’t make you an environmentalist to suddenly go plant a sapling and water it while posing for the Gram, when you’re going to leave the poor little guy lying around, like meh. Please do it if you’re feeling it. And if you’re feeling it alone.