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.