We all have to accept it: growing up was really tough. As students we spent most of our time trying to live up to our parents’ expectations, juggling academics, extracurricular activities, and friends. Well, most parents will say that they had very simple expectations; they only wanted us to do good in our respective careers. Hence all the pressure.
We’ve all had that one particular annoying auntyji in our childhood, who kept comparing every achievement of ours with that ever-elusive Sharmaji ka beta / beti. If we scored 90%, Sharmaji’s progeny scored a 99%; if we won a state tournament, the young Sharma scion was made an international champion of some obscure sport, but yes, please take note: INTERNATIONAL CHAMPION!
This continued throughout our childhood, right into teenage, and then adulthood. Our school attendance, extracurricular performances, class of friends, colleges or universities we attended … nothing was spared. That annoying aunty, whom we often thought of as the Sharmas’ secret PR agent, had a field day particularly on the days when our 10th or 12th boards results were out. “Oh! So your daughter / son got into so-and-so university? Not bad … but you know, Sharmaji’s son got into so-and-so-better university. Plus, he’s getting a scholarship. Such a talented child …” she’d go on and on, singing praises while our parents’ faces were sapped of their smiles and pride. “You’ve got a job, really? Good for you! You know Sharmaji’s son is already handling the family business single-handedly, don’t you?” she would state while we grinded our teeth.
There were times when we itched to ask the aunty about her own childrens’ status report. However, every time our parents would shut us up with a “We should never forget our manners” or worse, a snide “Oh, so now you want to point out someone who’s not doing so well only to look better in comparison?” How we’ve all literally fumed on such occasions!
After having spent upto a quarter century of our lives fuming over the constant comparison done by such aunties and relatives, one day, we grow up. This enlightenment happens sometime after we finish our education or as we take on responsibilities of family or professional work. We eventually face one of the following scenarios:
- One day, we bump into the aunty and she’s an old woman with not a very accurate memory of the past. Talking to her, we realise that the Sharmas never even existed OR
- We bump into Sharmaji’s son himself, and one conversation with him reveals how much everyone has been exaggerating his traits OR
- Sharmaji’s son indeed turns out to be as glorious and successful as the picture of him painted for us.
However, in all the above scenarios, only one fact dawns upon us: we’ve only but wasted a good chunk of our lives driven by the comparison with someone whom we barely knew and who had no role whatsoever to play in our lives.
And, this is when Sharmaji’s progeny becomes something like an insider joke for us. Imagine! On your shopping trips to the mall, while searching for underwear in an S size for yourself, you would smirk to yourself and raise an eyebrow while a small voice in your head immitates the auntyji’s voice: “Sharmaji ka ladka tohhh … requires a XXXXXL. Such a blessed child indeed!”