Only jealousy

It is only jealousy. Just a little liquid sensation that fills up your tissues to perk up the senses, you know? I first became a ready and keen practitioner of this emotion when Anita showed me her collection of glass gems and brilliant stones. I was a collector myself, but realised (or so I thought) that the ones I had weren’t half as brilliant as the ones she’d so painstakingly gathered from here and there. We both kept them in our separate plastic boxes. Mine was lined with a sumptuous layer of cotton (my mother had told me this would protect them from scratching each others beauty dim). Hers wasn’t. But they still glimmered beautifully. I had a dull green one I loved best. Yes, I know it was dull and not brilliant, but still. There was something very devil-may-care about it. And something elegant. Anita’s box had a deep purple one I wanted to steal. Each time she went out of the room, I felt my fingers inching towards it, as if they had motor senses of their own. Each time, a little girl perched in the withins of my heart threw a heavy stone that fell right to the depths with a thud. It hurt.  And to add to the trauma, this heartless  connivance somehow defuncted the motorability of my fingers. They had to limp their way back to where my cotton-lined box was. She would come back with lemonade or orangeade, and some biscuits. And we’d discuss the glass gems against the incandescent bulb-light of her room. The drink invariably melted the stone the devil-girl had dropped, which  helped me lift myself up without a heavy stone grinding me to the ground. I’d get up and go home. After just a little glance at Anita’s collection. Oh the purple, purple dream!

Once home, I’d open up my box, ask my mother to come and look at the coloured treasures with me. She’d help me look at the various facets, the play of light, pointing out how each was differently beautiful. “But Anita’s purple one is the most beautiful..”

“Really? But how about this pink one here? I love the tens of sides it has.”

“But that colour, Mummy.”

“I like purple, too. It reminds me of the peacocks we had at home.”

“See? She has a better one.”

My mother usually allowed me time to find out just how I wanted to deal with feelings that made me unnecessarily adamant about stressing the unfairness of the world. And I usually did.

But jealousy, the green, green feeling is something else.

The beauty of this emotion is that you usually get enough opportunity to cover it up with seemingly plausible excuses, and give yourself a chance to feel like you simply must catch up. Of all the emotions I have written about in this category and the ones I  intend to write about, this one makes me feel like I really know it, inside out. I can dive into its icy hug and feel the cold grip me enough to say “I do not have this. And she/he does.” For those moments, it’s as if nothing I have counts. No, I am not an envious witch, who  isn’t happy with what she has. But like most of us, I feel a desire for things I know I do not have (and probably don’t really want). If a small voice inside me says there’s another gem I could stash in my plastic box because She/He has it, I see green. Sometimes it lasts a few seconds, sometimes even a few days. But eventually, thankfully, the stone-dropper drops the stone.

Ours is a world that readily provides easy-to-acquire models with which to mould ourselves. Everything is within reach, the best looking eyebrows, the hottest pout, the coolest car. And the most amazing book ever published. Or that tinkling laughter coming from the other end of the room, reminding you that just this morning your son said your laugh made him nostalgic for Shrek. In this deluge of things you’ll never be or have, you forget that your child painted you a picture for Christmas, your wife once told you how she loved the feel of your fingers against hers. Or how the letters you write to friends make them keep asking for more. What is it that you have that the world doesn’t? A dull green glass gem that may be dull, but shines with brilliance nevertheless. And everyone has a devil-may-care stone-dropper.


14 thoughts on “Only jealousy”

  1. Yet another coincidence, Priya. We wrote about very similar topics today, although we each went in our own direction. Yours beautifully illustrates, over and over, how distracted we are by what we do not have — and how that distraction keeps us from enjoying what we do have. Excellent writing and thought-provoking themes, as always. I really like the phrases liquid sensation and heavy stone grinding me to the ground, as well as the photograph and its caption.

    1. The ‘over and over’ sometimes makes me nervous, Charles. I fear losing my foothold on the ground of moderation. That said, I do feel strongly about looking at the pasture next door more often than required.
      About coincidence, it is quite an exciting thing to happen, right? I noticed the importance of a bulb in your post. It is an important part in mine as well, though mentioned vaguely. It is amazing how thousands of kilometres do not make a difference in how minds work.

      Thank you, as always, for your kind words.

  2. Lovely Priya. I’m sure we’ve all coveted a friend’s “purple stone” sometime in our childhood. You’re lucky your Mom could help you sort out your feelings.

    by the way, how did you set up the email notifications of your posts that its just 2 lines long with a “Read more of this post” link?

    1. Hmm good question, Rosie. Except that I am not sure I know the answer! I visited my Dashboard to check, and here’s what I think: The Reading settings under the settings tab has a provision for setting specification for the email feeds. There are two options: Summary or Entire text. I have selected Summary. Possibly that’s the reason why. Why don’t you change yours (if Entire text is selected) and see if it changes? If not, I’ll look for another solution!

      Yes, having a mother who didn’t question my ills until they became downright evil was a blessing for which I am very grateful.

  3. Priya, without these feelings, when would we look at ourselves? How else do we discover our protective stone-droppers?

    These feelings are friends – as long as I don’t act on them. They take us to our wisdom and to a place where we discover who we are. I find these negative feelings last less and less over time. Thanks to many experiences (!), I can more quickly catch myself hosting a negative feeling. I acknowledge the feeling, feel it deep in my being (remembering it is a part of me) and then let it go with love. Sometimes that is a visualization and sometimes, if it is a tough one to release, I actually write it down and burn it.

    Priya, imagine a stringed instrument with no stress on the strings. Imagine the sound. I imagine, due to your depth, that when your string is plucked the resonance, clarity and beauty is unmistakeably profound.

    1. You have it so right, Amy. That’s the key to all the joy in the world. Accepting the virtues. Nothing comes without a virtue.

      As for dealing with negative emotions, I have a trusty stone-dropper, like I said. And there is of course your method of writing and burning for the ones that carry heavier bulk. And yes, one needs experiences to be able to weigh responses. An isolated and pristine life can be as boring and imperfect as Utopia itself!

      I love the way you put concepts into words. Does it really have to do with your experience? Or were you born with it?

      Thank you.

  4. It’s a curious emotion. I wonder, really, what it’s actual purpose is, in our basic survival? Presumably, when times were different and life was more basic, when humans were like animals and had to steal from each other to survive (a bird steals another bird’s – apparently bigger, better – nest and wins dominance over the vanquished one), there was need for it. What was there in the purple stone that would have made your survival better? Possibly nothing, but also possibly something. I know this is just one example out of (presumably) many, but what does a purple stone have that a green one hasn’t? It belonged to someone else and you needed it for some kind of inner survival. You didn’t get it. You’ve lived with that.

    The post reminds me of a few things in my own life, mostly in childhood. One, a friend’s ability to sew clothes for her dolls. I had a lot of dolls, she had a lot of dolls clothes. I wanted her ability. Eventually I let my fantasy world make up for it by tearing and glueing paper tissues into ‘fashion garments’ for my dolls… Then another memory – of desperately wanting a camera in a ‘grab’ machine (I’ve no idea if these still exist: one would put a coin in a slot and a mechanical grabbing device would randomly close around an object below and deliver it to one. Sometimes there was nothing as the grabber only grabbed thin air. Often there was a comb or a bauble of some sort that one didn’t want, but the thing that I really really wanted – was a camera. Of course, a friend I made there (it was a hotel when I was on holiday one year with my parents, I think I was about ten yrs old) won the camera on my last day there. How I felt about that was not a nice emotion… I wanted, wanted, wanted that camera!

    But, Priya… there’s something else about this for me and for you too – these are strong emotions and they keep a part of our lives intact. So, it may be an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s a strong emotion and it defines a part of you, a part of your life, and your own experience will never, ever, be quite like anyone else’s. It’s part of what makes you individual, all you.

    1. How very well put, Val. I firmly believe that there is no single thing in this world (except maybe Botox) that does not have a positive objective, in one way or the other. Particularly these emotions that are actually as old as we are. Like everything else, one needs to stop if it begins to harm any concerned/involved person.

      You mentioned how pride is a taboo emotion in many cases. But we know better than to seal it in a box and hide it. It must the case with jealousy as well. Although most of the times, it does incite very unwelcome feelings! And perhaps that is why we are ashamed of admitting it. But like you said, each of these things makes us who we are, unique in our own ways.

      Thank you.

  5. hi P, this is one of hte most secret emotions for many. it starts too early inc hildhood. so is it instinctive/inherited/taught? what a feeling is jealousy. when a book of a classmate hidden/thrown/torn what was it? why was it? all of us get out of 100 but refused ato believe, thought i lost from mine if he got it.
    good, p, enjoyed reading..

  6. This brought tears to my eyes Priya, thank you for the Public service, this is an amazing piece!
    “… you forget that your child painted you a picture for Christmas, your wife once told you how she loved the feel of your fingers against hers….” So gentle, so compassionate..
    So true, thanks to my mother who keeps reminding me that my children’s golden childhood days and my youth are way too precious than any gem in the world – and now you reminded me this important lesson.
    Well written honey..

    1. Thank you, Rachana. I am glad you liked this post and it, in a way, reminded you of your mother’s recommendations. It serves us well to remember what our mothers said. Most of the times. 🙂

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