DOMINANCE DOESN’T EARN REVERENCE

We all have relatives who love to dominate and belittle anyone who is inferior to them. For some it’s elder sister, for many it’s husband, for most it’s mother-in-law, and for me, it’s my maternal aunt, who stops at nothing to feed her superiority complex.

She’s the youngest in the family and thereby she never got the chance to brandish her impudence quite often. And here I am fulfilling her needs.

So there I was perfectly lost in my own girly world of nail colors and clippers, when she trotted towards me with an air of superiority that’s unseen even in the meanest of bosses, and demanded me to clip and colour her nails. That was not where it ended. She wanted me to decorate her toenails too. And frankly, I didn’t find that offensive at all. What’s the big deal about touching toes of a family member? But when my grandma looked at her in surprise because she never ever coloured her nails, prompt came the condescending reply, ‘This is the time when I have to make the most of her services.’

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Services? Do I look like a slave to you, woman? What the hell do you think of yourself? Tell me that you can’t reach your toes with that belly of yours hanging in between, I’d be convinced; say you are not trained in colouring your nails as deftly as I do, I’d be honoured; but you want to use my services? I mean, yeah maybe she enjoys having her smelly paw over my face but at least she can be subtle about her awful intentions?

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I would so love to get your feet off my face, Aunt Meano.

Man, I need to make sure that our dates don’t clash when I pay the next visit to my parents’ because I can’t bear the sight of her dopey grin and domineering personality.

She makes me the butt of every inane joke she cracks, trivializes every contribution of mine towards helping my mom in household chores or whatever and also scoffs at the baggy shirts I wear for my comfort, seizing the opportunity to brag about her daughter’s dress choices.

This brings me to the topic of relevance – domination.

Why do we feel the need to dominate? Why don’t we treat everyone as our equal? Does it harm? Does it lower our status? If anything, it elevates our footing and we win big time in terms of respect.

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So, taking cases I’ve heard and seen into account, I deduce that the people who like to feel strong by exercising control over others do so because they’ve never experienced what it feels like. For example, if I were the youngest in the family, then everyone expects me to pay heed to them. I have no say in anything important because, you know, I’m still a kid. Being a sidekick has boundaries. I have to listen to whatever the older ones say. After being under someone’s thumb for so long, I’d feel the urge to see what bossing around feels like. And when the time arrives, I make full use of the newfound reins and don’t care what the person whom I regard as a minion thinks.

That’s exactly what’s happening to my aunt and to most of the people who love to dominate. Take a mother-in-law for instance. She has been bossed around by her own mom-in-law for so long that as soon as her daughter-in-law arrives, her mind flashes a bingo sign.

This is not the logic for everyone of course. I decoded the workings of a dominant person’s mind but it obviously doesn’t apply to the world at large. It’s just something I’ve noticed around.

Whatever the reason may be, each person deserves respect. Just because you are older and in higher position, it doesn’t mean you can toy around with underlings as if they are puppets. It might be sadistically uplifting but morally wrong. So wrong.

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Remember, everyone is important and should be treated with the same respect you expect to be treated with.

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HOW TO DEAL WITH INSOLENCE

Rude people are not necessarily bad people. They just need a lesson or two about manners and respect. But we can’t go about philosophizing 30-year olds on how to behave. It’s their damn responsibility to treat others the way they want to be treated. Or else, someone like me would watch with eagle eyes for an opportunity to exact revenge.

I don’t let go of the insult of being yelled at unnecessarily, the humiliation of being the subject of embarrassing jokes in public, the belittlement in front of even an ant. I convert the incidents into a camera reel and replay them frame-by-frame till there’s retribution.

Movies like “Mean Girls” and “The Clique” give youngsters a strange sense of belief that being cheeky is cool and it’s even regarded as a funky trait. In reality, society views rude people as bullies. Reality doesn’t work the same way as it does in movies. At least youngsters can be taught and will learn from experience. But what about adults like my twenty-three-year-old germophobic cousin, who shouts at me for offering him a glass of water? You read that right.

He arrives at the living room, tired after a long nap in the afternoon. As a responsible guest, I offer him some water, in the presence of his parents and other relatives. He refuses.

‘Have some. You look weary,’ I insist.

‘I said no. Just leave me alone!’ he says in a mildly loud voice.

‘Are you sure?’ I say just to be polite.

‘God, just go. I don’t want your stupid water. Did you even wash your hands? Get out of here!’ he yells.

I felt the whole building shake from the sheer loudness of his annoying voice. Stunned by his hostility, I retreat from the spot without a second look at his skunk-like face. The hall falls into a cloud of silence, although they’re used to these meaningless outbursts from the thoughtless man.

Nah, he’s not mentally unstable like all of you might be thinking by now. He’s just someone who loves to shout at others with no consideration towards their dignity. If he was worried about germs, then he could have let me know in a civilized way. But, no. He chose to humiliate me.

I shrank into a corner and forced the prickling tears back into my eyes as I vowed revenge.

This sweet cousin of mine was asked to drop me at my place the next day. He whined like a sick monkey before agreeing to his mother’s order. I saw an opportunity and schemed while on my way, seated beside him in the car. He wasn’t speaking anything. I thought of several ways I could start a conversation so that I would get a chance to insult him but none of them was non-pretentious.

Finally, we arrived at the destination. My aunt, his mother instructed him to carry my luggage up into my apartment. He was especially not happy at being my porter but he obliged any way. He got out of the car to pull out my bags from the backseat. The watchman nearby was thinking whether or not to help. There was a lot of buzz around on the street with people going about their chores. As he lay his hands on the handle of my bag, I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Take your dirty hand off my bag! I’ll carry them.”

He was gobsmacked, not being used to taking an insult in public. I removed my luggage from his car and disappeared into the building. Yes, everyone around gave him weird looks and I left with a satisfied smile on my face.

From that day onwards, we greeted each other with icy glares. I lost a cousin that way. But God, it felt so good. That’s how I treat brash people. I give them the taste of their own medicine. Most of them don’t even realize that they’re being impudent because they get accustomed to treating fellow humans like doormats.

My cousin is so kind and caring; tall and attractive; stylish and sophisticated; uncouth and apelike. The last two qualities negate the former ones obviously and he had few friends and many haters.

They say, ‘Don’t waste your time on revenge. Those who hurt you will eventually face their own karma’. That’s some unrealistic rubbish. If someone slaps you, you need to show them how painful a slap can be. I’m not promoting revenge but I sure believe in an eye for an eye.

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When it comes to rude people, they need to know that they can’t get away with ill-treating others and taking them for granted. An antidote to insolence is insolence. Rude people, if not stopped, turn into bullies. Hence, they should be taught a lesson that they won’t forget.

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