Hypocrisy: The pretending game….A slightly edited version of an article published in The Review (Dawn In-Paper Magazine).

I was reading a book around mid-afternoon, a daily ritual I perform before my afternoon siesta, when my seven-year-old grandson came and announced, “Nafisa Auntie’s call for you Amma”. Oh no, I groaned inwardly! Always at draggers drawn with her daughter-in-law, my friend often calls with her (new) list of complaints. And I am forced to listen to her rants, although I am least interested, plus I do not have such a bad opinion of the poor girl! But I do not have the courage to give my views to my old friend, as I do not want to annoy her.

 

The book was getting interesting and I was in no mood to be disturbed, so I told the little one to tell Nafisa that Dadi is sleeping. “But you are not sleeping Amma!” Looking a bit confused, he reminded me innocently, “You always tell me that I should never tell a lie”. “Run away and do as you are told. I don’t need your sermon,” I scolded him. He left the room, but not before giving me a reproachful look. I returned to my book without having the slightest idea that I had given my little grandson his first lesson in hypocrisy.

 

How many of us go through similar experiences in our day-to-day life? Majority of us are hypocrites as we love to preach what we ourselves seldom practice, conveniently molding our rules and principles to suit our moods and whims (and sometimes convenience).

A hypocrite can be defined as a person who pretends to have virtues, principles or moral believes which he does not actually possess. He is also a person who feigns desirable attitude when in company, although this behaviour does not conform with his true personality. According to Bertrand Russell, “We have two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.”

So, what is the real cause of hypocrisy? For me, the most important reason is the fear of disapproval of the people with whom I interact in my day-to-day life. I am scared that my true feelings may annoy or hurt them, or have a lower opinion of me than what I would like them to have! So, I take refuge under the cloak of hypocrisy. Also, as I am so obsessed with myself, I usually do not think that something is wrong if a nice person like me is doing it. At times, I lie so sincerely, I cease to perceive my deception, forgetting that I am not deceiving people but only myself. Although, according to Socrates, “The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be”.

Let me explain. I go to the wedding of an acquaintance’s daughter and after greeting and congratulating my hostess I exclaim, “Wow! Salma, you look so beautiful in this maroon dress. One would never guess you are the bride’s mother”. Salma blushes as she guides me to a seat and moves away. “What a terrible colour to wear, looks so loud for her age!” I whisper to a common friend sitting next to me. “But you were complimenting her for her dress just a moment ago.” She looks surprised. “Do you know she is the principal of my grand- daughter’s school? I can’t take the risk of annoying her,” I reply with a smug smile.

Umar Adil, a young businessman, believes, “Hypocrisy has become a second nature to most of us. In today’s world what matters to us the most is what other people think of us. Even our opinion about ourselves is based on those views. I am a real man living in a real world and trying to prove myself. Yes, naturally I am a hypocrite. What I say and preach is rarely based on what I practice and most of the time I do this to create a cool impression. The remedy to this issue is accomplishment. Once you prove yourself a successful person, you find your actions speak better than the hollow sermons you never tire of giving. I know I can get over my hypocrisy (i.e. if I want to do so), but the time is not ripe for it yet!”

Freelance writer and journalist Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam gives her views, “Hypocrisy, to me, is a form of lying. Unfortunately, we all end up indulging in it as there are contradictions in our personalities, our lifestyles and our beliefs. We often portray ourselves to be something that we are not. I think true liberation comes with being one’s true self under all circumstances. People who don’t accept us the way we are don’t deserve to be in our life.” When asked if she is a hypocrite, she replies with a smile, “This question actually teaches me to be less judgmental. Commenting on others’ actions should be avoided, as at times we may end up doing the same thing in similar circumstances”.

I know many people who can be called hypocrites, but I have never been able to muster enough courage to tell them so, as I myself am a hypocrite. There are times when I really feel ashamed of my hypocrisy and wonder what measures I can take to minimize it. Maybe this can be achieved by trying my best to always do and say what I believe to be right and not changing my values to justify my actions. On other self-righteous moments, I overcome my guilt by reminding myself that I am an honest hypocrite and unlike most people, have the courage to admit my weaknesses.

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ENOUGH IS (NOT) ENOUGH!!!

24-3-13
I posted this blog last year, but the situation and my feelings have not changed! Frenzy about branded lawn is on the rise and new designers are mushrooming to make the most of this mindset! What if political instability, religious intolerance, inflation, illiteracy, crime and uncertainty is on the rise! Who cares for it as long as I can pay for what I want and whenever I want it. Whether I need it or not is another question, to be ignored and brushed under the carpet!

The lawn season is on! To be more accurate it was on even when we were still braving icy winds from Siberia and pulling closer our woollies to stay warm! The designers were racing each other to be the first to launch their lawns and exhibitions were being held on prestigious venues as early as in February! The city was painted blue, green and red as (semi dressed) smiling beauties looked down upon us from hoardings everywhere! Was there a faint look of disdain in their eyes or my imagination was playing tricks with me? This is a question I still find difficult to answer.

Try as I do to resist to the exhibitions, at last I give in to temptation (Sigh)! Although I know that my cupboards are over flowing with dresses, some of which I have not worn for months, and I have clothes enough for a life time, still I compelled to go to at least three or four exhibitions. After all, all the rich ladies I know are going and buying lawn suits to their hearts fill. I try to satisfy that inner voice inside my head which keeps on troubling me by always speaking the truth! Ok, Ok I will not buy much, may be a jora or two, at least I can boast to my friends and acquaintances that I am also one amongst the privileged class who visit and can afford the designer lawns inspite of their staggering prices.

So, hushing up the voice which perhaps is my conscience, I call a friend and pompously ask her to accompany me. And I am careful to choose the one who has a big mouth and loves to gossip! I know that if she goes with me, the news would be spread among my circle in no time!  Logon ko pata tou chalna chaiye ke mein bhee designer lawn pehnti hun! Because most of my friends from the lesser privileged class have to be content with wearing copy suits of the branded lawn suits!

And at the exhibition, I simply give in to impulse! How can a clothes lover like me resist when the material is so soft, the colors and designs so vibrant and when my wallet is full of five thousand rupees notes?  Who cares about the prices? I am buying the suits only because I can afford them. Again I hush up the voice in my head which is now protesting loudly. Remember? It reminds me, only today the maasi was asking for a couple of thousand rupees to buy the syllabus of her daughter for the new session in school, but I had flatly refused. And my driver complained today that although it was only the 20th of the month, he had nothing left from his salary so his family would have to do with roti and onion for the remaining days of the month! And the sabzi wala was asking for some monetary help as the canopy over his theila had broken down and he had to face the burning sun as he moved from one lane to another selling his sabzees. He had even offered that he would adjust the money in the vegetables my cook bought from him daily but I had flatly refused all these people.

Ok, ok I again try to shut up this troubling voice; now don’t spoil my shopping spree. I tell it angrily. I will give 500 rupees to Maasi tomorrow and she can get the rest of the money from the other houses she works for. Theika tou nahin lya hua uska mein ne! I am angry at the voice which refuses to shut up! As for the driver, there are still some packets left from the meat with which I had stuffed my freezer at Baqraeid. The kids don’t want to eat it any more as the meat smells a bit stale. Only yesterday, when my cook prepared a delicious beef roast, they refused to have it for dinner and had insisted that I order for pizzas to be delivered at home! But the meat would be good enough for the driver’s family. At least it is much better than having only onions with roti!  I console myself further. Sabzi wala can also have a thousand rupees as a loan. I am sure the cook will recover this amount even before the week is over! Now, thankfully, my mind is absolved of all the troubling thoughts!

Back home with my treasure, I try further to justify my unnecessary shopping! Tomorrow I shall give away some suits. I open my wardrobe and in a fit of generosity (and somewhat guilt!!), I pull out six suits one after another. These will go out to replace the ones I have bought today, I soothe my ruffled conscience.

But by the time morning arrives, I have changed my mind! This blue dress is as well as new. Why! I bought it for 4000 Rs only last year! Or was it the year before? I try to remember as I fold it and keep it back in my wardrobe. This pink one was a birthday gift from Mummy; so it has an emotional value for me! The third one is my favourite color. Ah, black has always been my weakness and I can not bring myself to part from it. And the hazel brown has such a pretty print, and my friends always say that it compliments the color of my eyes to further beautify them (Blush)! So, four out of the six suits I had vowed to give away yesterday find their way back to my wardrobe and I have the heart to give away only two! What if one was a bit faded and the silly dhobi had torn the doppatta of the second one. Both the suits are still much better than the one my Maasi is wearing now…. At least they do not have patches on them!

Although my inner voice always troubles me, but luckily I am smart enough to find a hundred and one ways to quiten it.!

Life has become one rat race for me as my foremost aim is to excel my friends in material goods! I keep on piling dresses, shoes, bags, jewellery, furniture, crockery, show pieces; anything I can get my hands on, all of which are far more than my requirements for a comfortable life. Even when I do my grocery, I feel happy to pile the trolley with luxury food items, some of which will expire even before I will get to use them. If my friend, Ms X has got a new sofa set and matching carpet and curtains for her drawing room, just to fix the envy that I feel, I can at least have the upholstery of my sofa changed.

The only reason I can give for my extravagant expenditures is that I have money enough to afford them! Enough is simply not enough for me! Shopping for things I hardly need, gives me a high and I do not give a hoot to how this mindset is deepening the wedge between the rich and the less privileged class. And then, I sit in my drawing room with my like minded friends, dressed in my beautifully stitched designer lawn suit, showing off my new sofa and curtains; and as we sip coffee from the quaint china cups I got myself last year from France, we sadly discuss the barhti hui mehengai in our poor homeland!