Hi. I am Grateful to you for doing whatever you did to land on this page. I know how difficult it can be. Sometimes, when I find it difficult to get here, I remind myself how this is my medium of communication with Dad and that does it. Grateful, Dad. And Grateful to you too, Mom, just in case you don’t get the joke. But, coming back to you, reader – you could’ve chosen to chew on the fresh stalk of Social Media, start a WhatsApp group, click a picture of you looking into a mirror as you looked into a mirror, or stare at your navel, but you chose to come here. For that, I am Grateful. In case you came here to check if my writing continues to be mediocre or because my Dad sent you this claiming I am the second-coming of Socrates, I express my gratitude; and I presume – Goodbye! Finally, I am Grateful to all the people whose Birthday greetings read, “Happy Birthday!” for writing the shortest Murder Mystery novel.
Gratefulness is the new rage. From the Dalai Lama to John Cena, everyone’s exploding with gratefulness. Amongst other things, gratefulness is said to improve happiness, relationships and health.Personally, I feel it’s one of the few practices whose claims sound believable. With endorsements from the Crème de la Crème of the world, gratefulness is something you are compelled to try.
So, where do you start?
With waking up in the morning feeling grateful for,well, waking up — to feeling grateful that you have a family — to feeling grateful for the light breeze on a scorching day — to feeling grateful that the pigeon decided to shit on the neighbor’s car today, you have an array of gratefulness choices to pick from. Gratitude experts believe three is the number you should target and it’s best to start or end your day with three gratitudes. Not just simple, but easy too. One problem: it’s also easy to forget. Because it doesn’t quite give you the feeling that you are working hard enough to improve your life. As ironic as that is, we all need an element of effort to sustain our habits and believe in their pay-offs.
Time for some effort: It’s the thing mom would repeatedly prod you about when you were a child. No, not the one about whether you peed your pants again; that was just me. It’s the one about what you should say to the random aunt for her generous donation of 101 rupees toward your welfare: Thank You!
The Thank You is the first form of gratitude you learn growing up. It’s kind of a big deal and your potential and future welfare as a child sort of depends on those two words. And then you grow up and a cute girl at school tells you that “between friends, there’s no sorry and thank you”, and your Dad gets emo and says, “I am your best friend” and mom’s like, “5/100 in Hindi?? Also, did you pee your pants? For god’s sake, you are 10!” In short, you don’t care so much about the Thank You after a while. You’ve got bigger things like grades, girls and urinary incontinence to worry about.
Since it sounds ridiculous for mum to ask, “what should you say to Uncle for getting you an undersized baby-pink t-shirt?” when you turn 18, she lets you get away with your indifferent Thank You. The Thank You goes from a thoughtful response to a perfunctory courtesy. You reach that age when the only person you listen to is Eminem and he asks you to shut up and be Grateful. You go around feeling grateful because some kid in Africa cannot eat cheese popcorn like you do etc., and eventually the idea turns into some sort of a self-improvement exercise.
How did it come down to this? From when sitting with a notebook and writing about being grateful that you were able to take a lift to the 8th floor become more important than looking into the empty eyes of the lift-man and saying Thank You before you left? And what’s with the thing about being grateful to the farmer when you sit down to eat? I mean it’s deep and all that, but there’s this guy/gal/mum who brought you/cooked the food standing right there. I am not saying you are like this. I am saying this is what takes real effort. This is what we (I) need to do more of.
Gratefulness is great. It’s important and we all need to do more of it. Count me in as a fan. However, it’s turning into yet another routine in the self-improvement edification. In this attempt to be grateful for everything, we are losing out the importance of being grateful for what is actually important. It reminds me of that cute girl who told me “between friends, there’s no sorry and thank you” when I thanked her for not telling anyone that I peed my pants and then went on to tell the entire class that same afternoon and when asked why, said: “between friends, there’s no sorry and thank you” and walked away. I have wanted to say this for a long time: Thank You, cute girl. That humiliation spared me all subsequent visits to Dr. Kumar.
If you read so far, Thank You! I am sorry about all the pee talk. That cute girl couldn’t have been more wrong when she said there’s no Sorry and Thank You between friends. In her defence, she was 10, and really cute! There is Thank You and Sorry between friends. In fact, in the strange solitude that life entails, the Thank You makes us feel we are not all that alone after all. That for the briefest moment, in between two words, you made a friend. For each other, Thank You is the shortest prayer.