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To this day, I take what people say at face value (in spite of the many pitfalls I have faced over the years because of it), at least at first instance, before realization dawns that I have been (or am being) duped yet again. I have a side to me that wants to believe the best of the other person, give them a chance, at least the benefit of doubt, stupidly so, I must say. I automatically take what people tell me to be the truth and nothing but the truth, because being honest is my own default setting.

For example, it never occurs to me, not the first time anyway, that when you tell me you found something I wrote really awesome, that you could be lying and in fact would in reality be grinding your molars while typing that out, all the while thinking dark thoughts of ‘Who the hell gave her the license to write anyway?!’ It never occurs to me when someone tells me ever-so-sweetly, ‘You have a beautiful house!’ that they are actually checking out the cobwebs on the walls or the dust on top of the refrigerator and thinking unkind thoughts about my housekeeping capabilities, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back.

To give you an example of my lack of empathy with the ways of the world, if you had been sitting at my table as my guest, and I asked you if you wanted more of something (You should actually be grateful that I even asked you as I expect you to help yourself to what you need and not be mollycoddled. Anyways…), and you replied, “No, thank you,” I’d simply accept your word. You will not hear from me any of the usual, “Have more!” “What? You didn’t have a thing! Take some more” and such typical Indian platitudes because I believe you the first time you say you have had enough, or that you are full. That is why in our house we have a careful division in our work. I cook, but the L& M takes care of guests. Unlike me, he will not take that first ‘No’ for an answer and will pile you with more food and drink as a true Indian host is expected to do. Anyways, getting back…

Naturally at my age I have had loads experience, enough of them to have learnt my lesson for a lifetime, that there are catty people around, also the sarcastic, the mocking and the mean ones, who coat their bitter thoughts and words with a liberal dose of honey before presenting them in public. Yet, why do I still give human race a chance? I will tell you why, because I refuse to change to a a cynical, skeptical, morose someone to please anyone. I rather repeatedly fall and bruise myself than lose my essence and morph into one of those bitter people with their mouths all drooping in a downward curve and wary eyes that will not accept joy to enter it at any cost.

This conflict between me and the majority of the world as it is, has another side to it, which is actually what I HATE the most. Those, whose default setting it is to hide behind smokescreens and tell lies for no reason at all other than the fact that they think it is something smart to do, ASSUME while dealing with me that I am one of them. Now THAT offends me a LOT when they club me with their undesirable selves and ASSUME that I sail the same boat,  think the same thoughts as them. Preposterous, the very idea.

There is a Mallu saying that in effect says, to someone afflicted with jaundice, everything looks yellow. Technically it doesn’t of course, but you get the drift of what I am conveying. It is like, Hey! What a great liar I am in this world full of lies and lying people, so obviously everyone else is a liar too. Look how well I hide behind a well constructed façade, so what others project must be a façade too. Flattery and praise are my weapons to get things done my way, so what others say must be the same too. I exaggerate a lot because how else will I prove I am right, so what’s being said by others must be exaggeration too. I am a hypocrite and don’t mean what I say, it is simply for effect, then it cannot be that there are others who mean what they say!

There you have it: A painting of ‘you’ created in the colors that the ‘I’ is painted.

It used to hurt, baffle and upset me a lot initially. Well, it does even to this day for that matter, to come across such people who are ever ready with their huge paint brush dipped in their own personal colors, to paint over your natural colors, just so they can feel better about their own selves. But at least in the present, I have the gumption to ask myself, What (the hell) else did you expect, you imbecile? and after that first twinge of terrible disappointment that they could not (and were not bothered enough to) see the ‘real’ you, be on my way.

You know what I think? It is a pity that humans don’t change colors according to the way they feel. It would have been so easy to declare effectively who you actually are and what you are feeling, as also knowing clearly in which category others fall. The world would have been a much better and simpler place to live in for people like me.