No success is too small

(Originally published on January 1, 2008.)

One seems so focused on what he wants from the future that he forgets to be thankful to the past for allowing him the life he has had. True, there always seem to be people for whom nothing is ever good enough. But there is little we can do about them.

There have been several little joys that stick to my memory to this day and will very probably go to my funeral with me. Regardless of grander changes later in my life, these little shifts in my growth were never overshadowed. I thought I would share some of them with you, on this first day of 2008.

The first major achievement came early in school. I discovered that going to school wasn’t really all that it was cracked up to be. It also didn’t help that the kid who sat beside me was the most notorious farter in class. I was good at memorising things. That was all school demanded. The achievement in school manifested itself when I moved up to standard two. I still remembered coming home and happily telling my mother that someone had called me bhaiyya. Being the youngest in the extended family, I had craved seniority all my life. That one word from an underling opened up bold new vistas for me.

Happiness struck next when I first put on full-pants in school. In a world populated by knickers and shorts, a fully clothed pair of legs made someone a man. I don’t remember when this first happened. But I remember what it felt like.

And then I started shaving. It was in the ninth standard. Classmates were so jealous that nobody even mentioned it. But I knew what they were thinking about. Some tried to hide their disappointment by trying to sympathise with me (another chore! tch tch). I also remember many who tried to accelerate the process in vain by shaving bare cheeks. (It doesn’t work that way really.)

Lastly, there is that rite of passage – tea. I never really got it from the authorities to be sure. But during my year in Chennai, I started drinking tea. To this day, it remains a mark of rebelliousness. I go to the shop around the corner and buy myself a cup of tea when I need to remind myself I am an adult (it’s hard to do at home).

There are more things that I am thankful for. They may not mark turnabouts in my education or my professional life, but they affect the whole of my worldview in small but important ways. I need them for perspective and I remain ever thankful for them.