Simple Truths – When rainy days never come
I was taught to save things for a rainy day. So all my life I did exactly that. There was a reason why this was drummed into my head, why this ‘value’ was planted deep within us. We came from a middle class family and there were times when life was hard and every last paisa had to be stretched till the end of the month.
I was not the only one, for there was a whole generation like me that was taught to save every paisa. We reused and recycled much before it became the borrowed mantra of the western world in their effort to save the planet, ironically after exploiting it. Sheer necessity forced us to recycle everything. Cycle tyres became our playthings, milk bags became reusable containers, whisky bottles were used to store drinking water and left over food found ten creative ways to make reappearance at dinner time.
Inadvertently I grew up in a culture of fear. What if we don’t have enough for tomorrow? It is true that our generation grew up on the sacrifices of our parents but with those sacrifices and struggles we also inherited their fears. At the back of my mind the panic of the possibility of those hard days looms over every minute decision I make. I am worried to throw caution to the winds and gamble away good sense while inviting troubled times again. And so I pull back and tighten everything and every decision, from wallets to waist lines.
My generation spent little on ourselves, always with the conviction that we did not need this ‘little luxury’. Should a nice gift be presented to us it would be kept for that ‘rainy day’ or tucked in the furthest corner of old mother’s cupboard. Holidays were rare, candy and ice cream were non-existent, public transport was the order of the day, toys were a waste of money and a rare meal at a restaurant ended more with an apology that we could have eaten better food at home for half the money spent.
We slipped further into that fear of that ‘rainy day’ when disaster would strike and we would be ready to respond. While all this may seem earthly wise, it did have a rather negative consequence for many in our generation. We grew up on the border of constant fear and had to re learn how to enjoy the things we had in our life.
Make no mistake, there is but admiration and gratitude for our parents and the generation before us that sacrificed so much so that we may stand on our feet. It is thanks to them that education and prosperity came to us. However, the time has come for us to shake off the guilt of enjoying the fruits our generation while learning from the values of the past. We must learn to strike a balance.
I am by no means a spendthrift, but I still pass a hundred stores convincing myself I don’t need a treat with my coffee or I could buy the cheaper shoe when I can safely afford the one I really wanted to buy. Dead men have no pockets and while we need to spend wisely we need to enjoy that tea or diner set we have been saving for a special guest. We are that special guest in our own home.
So what if the tea cup breaks? It was meant to! God willing it will make way for a new one with which we can enjoy another nice cup of tea. Wear that great sari in your closet this Tuesday to work for no other reason except that it is beautiful and makes you happy. Stop waiting for that special day to spray the perfume you were gifted, today is good enough to get a compliment. Stop living in fear of tomorrow for tomorrow may never come.
Fr Warner D’Souza