A friend opened a Pandora’s box inside my head today.

At the crack of dawn (read 10 o’clock) she posted a status on FB asking why we seem to have lost the art of gracious giving- and what’s even worse- gracious receiving (compliments). To top it all, she asked for opinions.

It is my policy never to stint when being asked for my opinion. Mean people would go so far as to say I have a tendency to pontificate and be pompously pedantic. Gosh, I sound like that ghastly secretary in  the movie Mr. Poppins Penguins (starring Jim Carrey and six blessed penguins). The said secretary, in case you didn’t know, determinedly spoke in a vocabulary comprising of words beginning- and liberally interspersed with- the alphabet P.

Why P you ask? I don’t know. Maybe her nanny Polly Perkins popped in preparatory only to propping her up with a pretzel. (I defy you to say that quickly ten times and not tie yourself up in knots! Go on, I dare you!)

But I digress… as always.

Let me list out a few scenarios for you. When I tell you that these are real life example I was compelled to live through, I hope your heart will melt at the note of pure suffering in my voice. Here goes then:

Scenario #1:

Picture from Google Images
Picture from Google Images

Self: Hey, your handwriting is so beautiful!

You: Oh this? Nooo! I wrote this in a terrible hurry. Moreover my writing looks better in black ink.

Scenario #2:

Self: You have such lovely hair!

You: Now my hair is ruined. The water doesn’t suit me here; my hair is falling in clumps. You should have seen it two years ago.

Scenario #3:

Self: This is so tasty! You are a wonderful cook!

You: I can hardly cook anything. My mother/ Mother- in- law could really work magic in the kitchen. I just get by somehow.

Scenario #4:

Self: How brilliant you are! I struggled with this for weeks and you’ve solved it within half an hour!

You: Oh this was just a lucky guess. You should see my handwriting. When I write the page looks as if drunken ants dipped in ink have crawled over it. You would surely not call me brilliant if you saw that.

Scenario #5:

Self: I love your saree. It is so beautiful and the color suits you so well!

You: This! Oh but this is all faded now. You should have seen it when it was new. Moreover your sarees are far more beautiful than anything I have.

Dude! I mean, come on!! This isn’t modesty or any disease remotely close! It SO isn’t!

Let me let you into a little secret here.

If someone told you that responses of the above ilk, or a variation thereof, would establish you solidly as a modest, humble citizen, that person was the biggest, most colossal ass you’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. I hate to be the one to break it you, but the truth is that the person got the wrong handle on things entirely. I am sure his childhood wouldn’t bear looking into. Many a skeleton there, I am sure. Talk about being gross!

My earnest advice to you would be to scrape the dumb dear’s silly advice out of the farthest corners of your grey matter and to wash it out with strong soap and water for good measure. Then find find the fool and drown him, just to put him out of his misery. I mean, life can’t be any fun for the poor thing as it is.

These responses, far from being modest, are merely you asking- nay clamoring- for someone to bop you over the head with the heaviest chair in the neighborhood. Seriously. It is beyond annoying. It is enough to let me get away with ‘justifiable homicide’ from the right thinking judge. Trust me, I know what I am saying.

If my words sound to you as if I have been getting away with ‘justifiable homicide’ from right thinking judges since I was a slip of a girl… I shall keep mum with the utmost dignity. I shall neither confirm nor deny your assumptions. I don’t mind dropping a wee hint though. Just ask around and find what happened to one of my second grade classmates one evening when I went to her house to copy the homework since I hadn’t gone to school that day. Just ask, that’s all I am saying. That’s all you’ll get out me, I’ll have you know.

I would change my act in a hurry if I were you. Which brings me to the other point.

What’s with this whole modesty axis? I mean, WHY? Can you just tell me that? If I am awesome, I simply am. Why would me denying it prove me anything but a weak minded nincompoop who ought not to be let out of the play- pen for the next odd century? You know what I’m saying, yes?

While we are on the subject, will you also tell me one more thing? When you tell me my saree is awesome, why does it offend your sensibilities so deeply if I agree with you? One would think I’d snicked off your favorite ice cream cone when you weren’t looking, the way you carry on. Don’t  you think you’re being horribly immature?

Look at it logically, shall we? If my saree (or car or food processor or pen) weren’t awesome I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place. Even if I bought it because someone was holding a gun to my head, I surely would not be seen wearing it, would I? Ergo, I love the saree (or car or…. you get the point without me being obvious, right?).

Why do you expect me to pretend it is ugly just because it is mine? That’s hardly fair. If you were wearing it, I’d have admired it as much- and I would have expressed it frankly. To which you would have given me one of the fruity replies recorded above. Is it  my fault that you choose to be a basket case, eh sunshine?

I wouldn’t go so far as to sing this song below, but a reasonable facsimile should hit exactly the right spot I’m thinking. There’s a lot to be said for it. Listen to it with an open mind. I shouldn’t be surprised if the thing grew on you too.

You could do worse, you know.