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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 2 : Lessons in Perception

She always looked at me from top to toe, seeming to size me up with that one glance. The first time I noticed her do that, I didn’t really pay attention. But when someone does that to you almost every day, you’re bound to notice. At least, I did. And then I noticed her do that to almost every saree-clad woman moving around and somehow, that grated on my nerves because I found that look condescending. I donned my counselor hat and tried to empathize – maybe she’s mentally scanning sarees to look out for these designs the next time she goes shopping.

‘She’ is one of the admin staff working in the office of the trust that runs the college where I teach. And the ladies she’s subjecting to her scan are the faculty members of the several institutions on the campus. Every time I saw her do that, I wondered what she saw. One day, as she waited to use the washroom near my staff room, she struck up a conversation with one of my colleagues. The long and short of it was that her husband always wanted her to buy expensive, bright colored sarees that dazzled the observer. The way she described it, sounded like it was a status symbol – the costlier and glitzier the drape, the higher that person ranked in their eyes.

Suddenly, the scales dropped from my eyes. Without donning any hat, I found my previous irritation melting away to be replaced by a sort of sadness. The world provides us with so much to see, observe, notice and learn from. What a terrible waste to restrict our perception to judging people based on the clothes they don’t wear.

This incident made me even more alert to my own responses to others around me. How do I look at people? What do I perceive in them? Do I look for what they don’t have? Do I notice what they do? Am I prepared to dig a little deeper to discover the good? I’m no saint, and as much as I try to mute it, my mind cannot abstain from making a judgment. The least I can do is be fair in examining my perceptions and keep an open mind so that I don’t slot people into neatly labeled boxes from which there can be no redemption.

Today I saw this lady again. As usual, she gave me the once-over. But I didn’t see just her – in that look, I saw her husband’s value system, her unquestioning acceptance of it and her life experiences that strengthened that particular outlook. Which is why, I felt nothing at all except a genuine gratitude because, through her, my eyes had been opened to yet another lesson for life.
NaBloPoMo November 2016


  1. Her unquestioning acceptance of it bothers me more. :(
    Thanks for sharing the lesson.

    1. Some people accept because it matches their thinking, and others because it's easier to accept than fight...either way, end result not really acceptable to the likes of us..


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