Monday, April 12, 2010

The positive side of No

It has been my nature since time immemorial to bite off more than i can chew.When i was much younger i was able to manage but now all i can do is to curse myself, not for overloading but more for the indigestion it causes.Why can't i bring myself to say NO, is one fine art i'm trying to develop these days. But hell no! the first time i did it in all these years i see myself jumping into the guilt wagon. The pathetic picture i cut out is then worth seeing when i try to undo and once again that whole  vicious circle starts again ...more to do...job not done to satisfaction...hence heartburn and irritation...typical signs of indigestion.
Why can't i figure out that it's hard to please everybody and i have my limitations too? What is it that i'm afraid of ? Wouldn't it be much better to politely excuse yourself and make the parties concerned understand ? And why this guilt feeling after having said no sorry i am very occupied at the present moment and would not be of much help?
Take for instance when i hear that one of my acquaintance has been ill and has to be kept for observation in the hospital for two days i am unhappy with myself as i was unable to join the others in the colony who paid her a visit, as i was loaded with responsibilities of my own.  i felt self centered after having said "sorry i really can't go now", and questioned myself again and again as to if i am after all a good human being. Surely i could've taken time out and done something if not everything. So armed with sort of shaky confidence i dial the number of her residence and waited for someone to answer.

Hello! said the  boyish voice and nervous that i was on my tardiness i fumbled," He..hello beta  (son)  is it Rohit or Mohit?"
"Aunty Rohit here and Namaste aunty", said the courteous child who later apprised me of his mom's condition and said that his mom was on observation because her throat infection had relapsed but that was now under control and so i needn't worry.
He seemed to be in a hurry i guess maybe because of his exams as this time of the year most schools have their board exams followed by the set of entrances like JEE , AIEEE, BITS ....but i managed to offer my assistance and say "Beta ! since your mom is in the hospital why don't you let me take care of your food and other requirements ?"
The polite child declined and said "Aunty thanks but that won't be neccessary as dad has tied up with the Rest House to look into our khana  (food) and we are very comfortable with the arrangements."
He once again  said "Thanks aunty and Namaste aunty " and hung up.(Namaste is an Indian greeting term mostly that of showing respect and originally it means the divinity in me salutes the divinity in you)
That was not enough for me and now i called the father on his mobile and offered the same.The father thanked me and convinced me with a gentle tone that if any assistance is required he would let me know.
All this sounds too simple except that i know that if they had accepted my offer i would've really been in a lot of mess.

So it goes on without saying that it was a mere formality i was doing a pretense of, little realising how i would've managed it with:
a) the already 4 adults and 2 kids who at present were in my house, my atithis (guests) who had come to Chennai with their Apollo Hospital agenda plus the Chennai sightseeing plans which i had to cater to since my husband was away on official tour.
b)  My domestic help being unavailable as she had taken leave to attend one of hers who was sick. Did not have sufficient time to look for someone who could chip in.
c)  The homework that i had to do for my dad that of preparing an itinerary for him to Scandanavian countries starting with Moscow and St Petersberg followed by Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Also the hotel/hostel bookings between 25 euros-30 euros online and keep it ready as he arrived a week later.
d) That kurta (a kind of long loose Indian Shirt) that had arrived in courier from a new friend (whom i had proffered to embellish her kurta with my  hand embroidery) accused me of being unfair with the pattern traced hastily as i was not finding enough time to do justice with my creativity but had to be finished nevertheless.
e) This along with the usual domestic chores of cooking, cleaning and somehow managing all the tests that  atithis take on your patience and endurance.
Thus i want to tell myself what causes these heartburns.  i have to remind myself not to be too ambitious with my generosity because more than failing, it is the FAKING that causes the heartburn. And definitely i should not bite off more than i can chew! That should relieve me of the heartburn and irritation for the time being i suppose...


  1. Good one Shivani, I like your honesty in all your blogs. We're all victims of this heartburn. You have to do what makes you happy. If a friend is sick and you really want to visit, to heck with all the atithis. Make time, and go visit. Don't just do it because it's customary, do it because you want to. Only then you can get rid of these heartburns. This is just my take on life.

  2. @Preeti thank you for all that you had to say about this and feel good that you are the first one to comment on my blog...happy very happy :)

  3. I think there is no need to go on a guilt ride. Do what your brain evaluates for the moment given the circumstance surrounding you. One has to learn to say ‘No’ with conviction that you mean what you say. Saying ‘Yes’ without really meaning it could not only put you in a fix at times but also allow people to see through you. Be helpful at all times i.e. when you have the time, energy and the means to help. I found your post very truthful and could relate to similar dilemmas facing many of my friends and relatives.
    I was very impressed with the really courteous Rohit. Do pass my love to this lovely child next time when you meet him.

  4. @Tandarin thank you so much for more helpful tips and will surely pass your love to Rohit.

  5. It is hard to say no... maybe email and phone makes it easier? ;)

  6. @Anirban thanks for suggesting another way but i am training myself to do that and also to overcome the guilt that i face when i refuse.

  7. just remember the dhobhi and gadhe ki makes life easier.

    however I still haven't the heart to say that you say 'no' to attending a sick person either through word or action...perhaps thats one time when its alright to bite more than you could chew :)

  8. @Thanks Sabina for saying so sweetly-lady set ur priorities and move on.

  9. shivani, no need to fake and convince yurself that you did the right thing. Also when you can't do something yo can't do--you are only human. sometimes we take on ourselves more than we can handle. Don;t worry about what others think- i think it is better to say "no" than come up with an excuse and feel guilty and cause indigestion. People will understand sooner or late and as for your guest - if they are long term, then they have to understand and chip in otherwise it is hard. Don't try to please others - do things that make you happy and this I think will take care of yopur heartburns or discomfort. I like your honest opinion on life's simplest but important things...