Happiness, A Transient State

11 Jun

When I was younger, I’d often yearn for the smallest of items. A music tape, some CD. A particular kind of fish or aquairum accessory, some gadget or musical instrument. Mom always told me that fulfilling materialistic desires only brought happiness that was extremely temporary. That as soon as I held in my hands whatever it was I pined for (for so long), moments later I’d start wanting something else.
Not too soon, I came to learn that she was right. That every materialistic pleasure was extremely transient. The moment of happiness hardly lasted.

Today, I came to know that it isn’t only that which is transient, but other joys as well. Yesterday, I was overjoyed with my University exam result. Today, it’s practically forgotten. The thought of it brings not an inkling of joy. I don’t wish I’d performed any better, nor do I think it okay if I hadn’t done as well. It simply doesn’t make any difference.

Instead, I worry over the future. I worry about what lies ahead. Recently, I had to let go of an opportunity to intern in Brazil. My parents quoted a million reasons. I don’t even know how many of them were honest.
I recall that moment when I got to know I’d bagged the internship. I jumped around, and wanted to scream in joy. The next day, it was forgotten. Another accomplishment, with a transient pleasure attached to it.

Mom said I should instead apply for a 6 month internship opportunity, for my last semester in college. I thought I would, but decided 2 days back that I would not. What’s the point, really? I could apply, and succeed in managing an offer, but is there any guarantee that they’d let me go for it when the time came? On the contrary, the most abbreviated glance into history suggests the exact opposite.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned growing up in this household, it’s that there is no scope for having any hope. Expectations are nearly always dashed.
For instance, a few days into my exams last month, mom called up to say that I should delay the starting date of my internship to mid-June. When I asked why, she very reluctantly told me (because she knew I would get distracted from studies on hearing it) that they were planning a trip to Spain. I struggled to keep myself from getting excited, because I have enough experience by now. Only allowed myself a mild sense of joy, and no more, because if my fears were to come true, this would be all the excitement I’d be getting from the “trip to Spain”.
2 days later, she called to say that we’d received an offer on our house, to give it out on rent, and had to move out by mid-June. When I asked her about Spain, she said that naturally the plan was off, as it completely clashed.
Eventually, the prospective tenant decided against, the offer didn’t translate into reality, and we didn’t have to move. Neither did we get to go to Spain.

There’s absolutely no point in relying on my folks for more than what is essential for survival, and I’m beginning to realise that my plans for the future must involve as little involvement or commitment from them, as possible. Which is why I decided to drop any plans of applying for a foreign internship in my last semester in college, and when I received an email from Tanuja this morning giving us GRE and Foreign Application advice, I decided that applying for a masters programme abroad, straight out of college, was not an option unless I sought more disappointment.
The next step in my life has to be to free myself from the reigns of financial dependence on a mother who tries but has no means to meet the aspirations of her children (let alone her own), and on a father who has convinced himself that he’s happy in what he has, and is in denial of the fact (or simply doesn’t care) that his wife and kids  require more from him than what he’s putting on the table.

I’m tired of having others clip my wings. I’d much rather clip my own.

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17 Responses to “Happiness, A Transient State”

  1. v June 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Unsung i think each one of us who read ur blog must have gone through moments of high and then extreme low in many facets of life ..but i dont know whether it applies to all , many situations like u told about GRE in my case it was GMAT everything was completed but at the last minute it fell like a pack of cards and blown away in the blizzard!!! However i think if we aim for something with true heart we can achieve in this life ..what u say

  2. saima June 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    awww…don’t be so disappointed.. Sometimes we don’t see the rationale behind what our parents say. Sometimes they tend to think that by virtue of being a parent they are ‘smarter’ and ‘intelligent’, and that implies that we are naturally ‘dumb’!!!
    Often a look back and realise that what mothers say is not totally baseless, but i did not realise it then.
    I know how it feels, but the best way is to sit and rationalise with them. And do what your heart wishes to do (in this case, apply for your Brazil internship), when time comes maybe they will understand, just make them realise its the best thing for your future.

  3. chandler June 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    I got through NTU, with absolute scholarship for an undergrad degree, and my mum instead made me do a flaccid engineering course in my own city, and it’s okay.
    I wouldn’t wanna be so sure that the happiness afforded by a trip in Spain, an internship in Brazil, or a GRE programme would not have had been much transient but wouldve stayed.
    In my last week of sabbatical away from home, I read The Winner Stands Alone, by Coelho. It says that man, in natural disposition, wants to grow rich, then richer, and when richest, he imagines how life would have been as poor, but never has the courage to go back. Happiness, out of character is transient..all kinds of it.

  4. Only my rants June 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Aah.. Sometimes parents dont understand the need.. while sometimes they can but dont want to accept it!
    I went thru a similar situation where in I decided to cancel my plan of doing Masters from US inspite of having a great GRE score!! But somehow later I felt proud of myself for taking this decision.. when I came to know they really cudn’t hav afforded it! Even if they cud’ve tried their best.. it wud certainly prove to b a big burden for them..
    So best is, fight for urself.. n when u acheive it, the joy surely wont b that transient! 🙂

  5. chandler June 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    also, I can bet that you’ve read your Julius Caesar welll, 🙂

  6. chandler June 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    apparenty i suck at using gprs. 😀

  7. Rani June 11, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Do not be discouraged friend… As they say, ” the best is yet to come”
    Its a passing phase i’m sure. We are all till one point dependent on our family. Times change…Just be wise and patient for the moment. Good luck to u!

  8. Orange June 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Well Unsung, how do you intend to get your financial and emotional independence if you won’t leave the house?

    Leaving the nest is difficult, but it HAS to be done. Your parents don’t realize that by over-protecting you, they are suffocating you.

    You have to wrestle your independence and your only hope to grow from your parents. It’s a fact of life for Indian households.

    Unfortunately, Indian parents think you are still a kid until the day you are married, and even after that they will want to run your life.

    At the expense of sounding blunt, I would say that if I were you, I would have stood up for what I wanted to do.

    And oh, again at the risk of sounding pedantic, be thankful for what your parents can provide you with. There are many people in the world who don’t have that luxury of parents who minimally attempt to put food on the table.

    Your parents are human. They love you dearly. And they are trying to be the best parents they can be. It’s not something they’ve had a manual for. So if they don’t understand where you are coming from, it is up to you as a responsible adult now to point out the disconnect in thought.

    Anyways, I hope I don’t sound more pedantic than I intend to be, or like I have all the answers, but these are things I have observed, they may not be universally applicable. 🙂

  9. unsungpsalm June 11, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    *V
    Regd. it falling like a pack of cards, I see you agree with me. And I know we need to want something bad enough to make it happen ourselves. Which is what I plan to do.

    *saima
    Yes, my parents do think so (that they’re smart and I’m dumb). I strongly disagree.
    The Brazil internship is behind me. Didn’t happen.
    It’s not that they have some logic or rationale behind their decisions. It’s more about not having the means to be able to make it happen for us. Maybe I’m wrong, (but I don’t think I am) when I say that I’m able to understand what’s going on in their head. Except in my mom’s case. She never talks, just drops a bomb of a decision at the final stage. She’ll randomly say, “The final decision is No” without giving any explanation, which aggravates the hell out of me. And then she’ll give me the reason behind her decision in an arbit conversation 2 years later. It’s extremely frustrating, especially because her reasonings DO make sense, however tragic they are! They’re not something I would’ve argued against.
    Dad always has an explanation for everything. He doesn’t realise how utterly useless and fabricated his explanations are.

    *Chandler
    NTU? Full scholarship? You’re a total idiot. That college is at par with our IIT’s. Far above it, actually. And your college is far below. You’re really very, very stupid.
    If I’d managed Brazil, or been able to go to Spain or whatever, I would’ve atleast had the conviction that I AM capable of going beyond the boundaries of my home and college. But presently, there’s a strangle wall that’s kept me captive.
    You and I seem very different in our goals and ambitions, kiddo. I didn’t get the bit about Coelho’s. He wonders what it would like to be poor, but doesn’t want to go back? How’s that even remotely connected to my story??

    *OMR
    Thanks babe! You totally understand what I’m going through, and I totally hear you too!

    *Chandler
    I haven’t read JC. And yes, you suck at using GPRS. Get Opera Mini browser.

    *Rani
    Thanks so much! Fingers crossed…

    *Orange
    L’Orange, My parents are neither “over-protecting” me, nor “suffocating” me. They actually involve themselves very little in my affairs.
    I’d be thankful for what I have, if I didn’t look at the rest of my family (aunts, uncles and cousins) and wish I had what they do!
    Yes, I must leave the nest. As soon as possible. And that’s what I plan to do…

  10. BlueMist June 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    When I vouch by my freedom and having taken decisions and stood by after effects of them all by myself; I still have strong feeling parents will never have bad intentions for any of their kid. Neither they act selfish or have something wrong on their mind when they deny something to their kid. Being independent is always good. It has to happen at some point of time; sooner the better. Right ?
    and usp you are blessed with the best of the parents one can have if I can read you.
    and where I stand at this point of age I crave for all that you are getting now. So much so tired of doing all my yourself. Your decisions; your life; your consequences !! For a change you need someone to force you to carry that umbrella when it is about to rain or dry that wet hair after you come home drenched ! but no one does . Irony of life as they call it !

  11. Trip.thong June 11, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    I am sure here has a ‘Deja Vu’ moment..

    I came across this line which aptly sums it up

    “Everything comes just as we desire, when we no longer desire it”- Marcel Proust

  12. unsungpsalm June 12, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    *BlueMist
    You do have a good point. They’re quite cool, even if they’re not very receptive.

    *Trip.Thong
    Sigh! Hope it isn’t true 😦

  13. Dark Knight June 12, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    everyone goes through such moments… and psalm, we make promises but sometimes we just can’t fulfill it… it doesn’t mean we always do it intentionally…. context/situation has significant role over the outcomes.
    Am not siding with ur folks though… but i too had many moments where i made promises but can’t fulfill it. Sometimes Nick too says tht i make promises to make him happy for a moment, but i never do tht… something pops out and damn…the plan crashes… and i can’t do anything.
    I don’t know wat i am speaking here right now…may be I find myself in ur parent’s position and tyring to empathize them… 😦

    but moving on is the only option.. rather than remembering which promises they didn’t fulfill… remember all those fulfilled-promises and be happy 🙂

  14. Just call me 'A' June 12, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    It’s funny ain’t it how we remember the bad times for days even years to come but happiness is like a drug that weans off and we keep in craving.

    everyone has something about their parents they don’t like or don’t have faith in. have you discuss this directly with them? I’m sure you have. There are scholarship options and loan options you could take to study abroad you know. don’t give up on that if it is something you really want to do.

  15. unsungpsalm June 12, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    *DK
    Trying to remember fulfilled promises, DK… unable to. For one, they don’t make many promises, and for another, they don’t seem to fulfill the ones they do.

    *A
    Scholarships? Ha, don’t think I’ll manage any. Not unless I apply for a PHD programme, and I’m certainly not convinced enough that I want a 5 year commitment. Loans are never a safe bet.
    There’s no point discussing anything. Nothing that is said ever gets done, in here.

  16. Paul June 14, 2009 at 8:16 am #

    Always difficult cutting the apron strings. Takes some time. Perhaps it’s time to have a talk with your mother and let her know some of your thoughts.

  17. unsungpsalm June 14, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    Oh, I think that’s the last thing she’s reluctant to do! We’re very independent and our parents are comfortable with that. They don’t interfere too much with our lives anyway, except where we’re dependent on them. 🙂

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