I shall narrate an incident that took place last week. A family well known to us visited with their 14 year old daughter. Let me tell you a little about them. The wife used to teach at my school and is a very good friend of my mother's. The husband is well.....one of those dynamic types. He preaches what he practices and practices what he preaches. He is one of the most intense people I've ever met. He also harbours some very strong opinions and is permanantly on the lookout for someone to debate his ideas with. Dont get me wrong, I'm not trying to be negative about him. He is an idealistic man....but he tends to put his ideas across rather forcefully.This usually does not go down so well with those at the receiving end of his lectures.
Anyway, when the doorbell rang that evening, I left my room to open the door. I welcomed them in, asked them to make themselves comfortable on the sofa and tried making some polite conversation as I waited for my mother to come and join us. The daughter had just written her 10'th board exams and I was asking her how she'd done. The girl looked at me, smiled sweetly and said "Dinesh, if you dont mind, could you switch off the light and fan in your room? While you are here, there's no reason they should be kept on..."
I like to think of myself as a principled person. When someone points out a rather blatant error I've made, I do my best to rectify it. I try not to get annoyed with the person who pointed the mistake out. However the moment the words left her mouth, I could only feel indignation build up inside me. To have an outsider, a teenager, a precocious girl telling me what to do in MY house! She had some balls!
Undoubtedly the kid was right. I had left the lights and fan on when I should have switched them off. But I just couldnt hide my irritation. I grunted and asked her switch them off. She smiled and complied. When she came back, no further reference to the lights were made but I stewed inwardly. I labled her as headstrong, just like her father. She'd have a tough time making friends, she'd be a person who got results but someone who failed miserably with people.....these were the only thoughts going through my head during their visit.
Later I had to endure another lecture by the father. He feels that the Dravidian parties who have governed in the last few decades are a disgrace to the state. He wants to start a youth movement, spread awareness and ultimately form a more responsible government. He wants to spread his message using yahoo groups. He's been after me to register with his site...and I've always avoided doing it.
So why do I feel this way about them? The girl was right about the lights and the fan. The father is certainly right about the current state of TN politics. I should be admiring both of them for trying to make the world a better place.
Except I dont. No matter how hard I try to listen to the voice of reason, I can only feel irritation when I think about the two of them. I dont like to be told right from wrong by a kid and I dont like to be forced into doing something I'm not very clear about.
So I let the matter rest. I've not troubled myself like I usually do..a battle between ideals and desires. I've let the desires win this time...I must be growing up.