Thinking cool thoughts in mind-destroying heat: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan
Two electricians toiling in 43-degree heat remind me that I’m not crazy for staying positive amid the incessant whining of the privileged.
A number of people I know, and I, fell ill last week in the heat wave.
I had planned to hold back on the air-con until May, since I live surrounded by trees at close quarters, which normally brings the temperature down by at least 3 degrees. I thought I would do a spot of eco-friendly duty this way and also keep the electricity bill down.
But the heat wave made me call the electrician in early for the annual pre-summer clean-up. ‘Be prepared’ as the Girl Scout motto has it.
But who would fix my brain? Hearing educated, entitled people complain incessantly not just about the zooming temperature but about life in general, my own fundamentally cheerful worldview had begun to get dented.
I now felt ridiculous about ‘being positive’, like an absurd Pollyanna; this despite knowing that my peace of mind would be ruined should I tip over into permanent ‘crib mode’.
An alternate worldview showed up in the form of Hunny and Suhel, the electricians. They were pleasant and cheerful. Hunny obligingly mended my favourite handfan, the one with roses on it.
As they toiled away in the 43-degree heat, fixing the inverter that had suddenly packed up and also prepping the AC for the rigours ahead, I had one of those urban nirvana moments that hits us all, to remind us of what we already know but have let get scorched by the negativity around.
In their place, dashing from house to house dealing with irritable people with depleted bardashi and sabr — endurance and patience, but our words satisfyingly convey the spiritual nuance — well, I may have lost my composure and I can’t think of anything more dreadful or embarrassing in everyday life. The horror, the horror!
This abrupt realisation of how my gradually grown inner landscape of sada vasantam or ‘always Spring’ was being parched by always-grumbling ‘society’ made me rush out with tall glasses of cold water with rose syrup. The star-shaped ice cubes floating on top amused the boys. I felt as though God in the form of two cheerful, hardworking electricians had just rapped my knuckles.
So this is my (hopefully sustainable) summer strategy, thanks to Hunny and Suhel. I’m resuming my childhood ‘glad game’ like Pollyanna in the American children’s story from 1913. It means putting a positive spin on everything, even sad or annoying situations. Some laugh at it as ‘unrealistic optimism’. But Hunnys and Suhels may keep me on track.
The views expressed are personal