Are You a Nobody Too?*

Ministhy Dileep | May 23,2011 10:22 am IST

When the world gets too much for me, I take a scented bath. I simply spray my favorite perfume into a bucket of warm water, add a slice of lemon (Remember, when life gives you a lemon….

.) and invoke the Spirit**. A dash of medicated oil for the befuddled head is wonderful too, in this particular routine. By the time the aromas of the multiple herbs seep into my brain, I no longer care that Mr.Smartie Patel has got a PhD and Ms. Gorgeous Nadia has gone to Alaska (on her wild, wild trip). I am just blissful. I don't think, therefore I am. 'Corgito ergo sum', undergoes a herbal revamp.

(And Mrs. Descartes would have cheered).


Now, when doesn't the world get too much for an ordinary soul? (The one, to whom Emily Dickinson asked sympathetically, "Are you a Nobody too?") In B-School, those were the days of Finance assignments. When one couldn't make head or tail out of the family of numbers assaulting the senses. (And the superior grins of the intelligent ones who did, added to the heartache). Then there were the winter days, when the world bedecked out in all its finery, looked askance at one's oversized sweater and outdated jeans. Not to forget the confidence blues, when people rated one another on the number of beaus they had. (The past, the present, the simple future and future perfect included in the list).


And mostly, after dinner, one felt horrible, period. It was when the Southie appetite met the Northie dal, which seemed to have been cooked in gum. (From the tree that gave us Quinine). Those were the trials of ordinary days.


The world knows enough already of the tears and tribulations of Placements/ Pre-placements. One can never forget the vicious bitchings and character assassinations that followed when the ill-favored one won the coveted offer. The irony was, no one realized it at the time that the heartbreaks and aches of varied magnitudes were all meaningless. (Except to the medico next door, who made a quick buck prescribing Valium and Prozac).


Most of us would shift gears in life pretty soon - change partners (99.99% probability), change jobs (99.98%), change careers (90%), change friends (85%), change the world (50%) and get changed completely (10%). And to think that one banged the poor head on the bathroom, because of:

The Prof whom you will never again see in your life.

The smart aleck who will get divorced in two years.

The beauty who will become a beast in a month (by marrying into the said family).

The dream job that went to the Most Hated (and she quit in an year).

The messwallah who made you feel like a 20th century Oliver Twist*** on the Non-Veg days (He died of a dal overdose soon after). 

Well, Nobodies usually are too dazed in B-School, to try such pragmatic vision statements. They wander through the corridors and the library like lost souls. Generally feeling overwhelmed. Not that the future gives them less trouble.


The workplace specializes in making pizzas out of the Nobody. There too, a stream of Somebodies and Some Special Bodies dominate - even inside the company transport. There is, for example, the Somebody who will read Jhumpa Lahiri****, when the rest of the Nobodies are hanging on for dear life in the overcrowded bus. He is reading it, with one hand suspended in mid-air, catching the lifeline.


And there is this Special Body, who carries the laptop on one hand and the cell on the other. He barks aggressively into the cell, as he brushes past you with nary an apology. An epitome of walking the talk - literally. An expression of "Look world, I have arrived." He is making that statement to the Nobody, and damn the fact that his wife is yelling at the other end.


And most of all, Nobody is bemused by the Full-of-Self Body, who believes that to ignore others is the height of achievement. Politeness is anathema to such exalted beings - she thinks respect is the name of a deodorant. She will ignore Nobodies who dare wave to her for a lift and swish by, on her Skoda Octavia. Amen to that subliminal vision.


As Nobody totters back home, she remembers the rest of the lines of the poem:

"How dreary to be Somebody -

How ordinary like a frog!"


Somehow that cheers her up inexplicably. And she hums all the way to the bathroom where a luscious 'sage and lavender' hot bath awaits her.

* Emily Dickinson, lines from a half-forgotten poem.
** For more exotic stress busters-check out "Romancing the Ordinary" by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance Press, 2002.
*** Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens' dearest orphan character - He dared to ask for more food and was kicked for that.
**** Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer for her work, " The interpreter of maladies".


Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....