Yesterday, I shared a post on Facebook which said, “it’s sad how quickly people can forget about you until they want something from you.” I’m sure the post struck a chord with pretty much everyone who saw it. Because who hasn’t experienced the phenomenon in life? There’s a lovely word for it in the Hindi language – matlabi. Matlabi means purpose and a mundane translation of matlabi would be one with a purpose. But the word when used is derisory and condemning of the person categorised as matlabi.
Point is not everyone is deserving of the title. Sure there are a few who merrily use and discard people as they wind their way through life. But many others may simply have got caught up in the daily demands of life (forgotten you) and be reaching out for help at a particular time. When that happens, the reaction should be perhaps to feel flattered and not hurt. After all, it’s a compliment of sorts that you have been considered as someone best qualified or trustworthy to be of help. To distinguish genuine seeking of help, you have to be able to put your reaction aside and assess the situation purely from the other’s perspective. It does help a great deal to stop hurting when we develop the ability to stop personalising everything.
And, the former type i.e. the matlabis? Well, they are best avoided altogether. Personally, I love the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” (acknowledging whoever the author was).
Coming back to the other sort – why do we get hurt when someone who seems to have forgotten us gets in touch when in need? Could it be because we wanted a closer friendship and didn’t get it? If we think on it, isn’t it true that it is our own expectations of people which disappoint rather than people themselves? The answer to that one lies within each of us and is something for private introspection.
If the answer is a realisation that while the person may like and trust you enough to seek help, you aren’t necessarily their choice of constant companion, help should be extended as long as it doesn’t cost too much and is easily given. Why the caveat that it shouldn’t cost too much ( I use the word ‘cost’ here to imply more than monetary help)? Well, let’s face it. It’s because we each have our own life to lead and time is precious. I have often spent perhaps too much time lending a shoulder to friends(?) to cry on. I have no regrets because each of those friends added to my understanding of people, relationships, life et.al. But I do wonder now and then if that time could have been better spent on people or subjects that emotionally enriched rather than drained me. For, endlessly listening to someone’s pain does sadden and drain you. I am, therefore, not surprised when I hear that suicides are very high in the psychiatry profession.
Suicides are always sad. They reflect a failure of society to take care of it’s own. But perhaps some suicides and a lot of depression could be curtailed if people lived by the maxim “It’s rarely ever about you.” The “Or, is it” is a personal choice. To do or not to do. To accept an appeal for help. Or not.
P.S. This blog was triggered by a young man who wrote to me about the post this blog is based on.