behavior

Ms. Buksh, my psychology professor was a nice lady. Very firm but polite. No nonsense type but friendly too. And if you did well in her class she would look at you with a twinkle in her eyes and reward you with that rare, angelic smile, saved for special occasions. I wonder if she is still alive. No I don’t think she is, but if she is then she is the oldest living person on the planet Earth.

She took my philosophy and psychology classes and made me fall in love with the subject. For quite some time and for some reason I had decided that once in college, I would get a degree in psychology. I remember being told by my family that it was a dry and boring subject and had no practical value. But I was adamant. “It has a great value. If nothing, at least it would help me understand my self better and the people around me even better.” My mother was horrified. “Do you think people around you are half wits?” I laughed and told her that that was not what I meant.

I knew why my mother was suspicious. Because she was upset with me.

I was the Editor of my school magazine and a regular contributor also. One of my articles published in the magazine was about people having two faces. One for the family and the people you don’t have to impress, as they are not a threat to you in any sense of the word. This is the real you.

And the other face is a fake one. that you show to the world to impress, impress with false pretense. This kind of stuff coming out of a 15/16 year old… I mean young and inexperienced girl was just not acceptable. My mother was angry and reminded me that I was being overly smart. That same week I had already had a falling out with my mother.

We were at a wedding reception. It was actually my maternal uncle’s son getting married. Everybody was laughing, talking, gossiping and having a good time. At one point, when I was looking for my mother I saw her standing at the edge of the party with a group of people, actually the group was the groom’s sisters, who were my mother’s nieces but nevertheless almost the same age.

I went and stood there to be noticed. We were trained not to interrupt when elders were talking. And not to talk until spoken to. So I waited. And listened. They were talking about another set of cousins, who also were my mother’s nieces but neither rich nor very educated. Two minutes into listening and I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Thats not nice,” I blurted out. “Not fair to talk about people who are not there to defend themselves.”

There was a deathly silence. “What? What did you say?”

I could feel the steel in my mother’s voice.

“I came here to tell you that Mami jan is looking for you.” I said hurriedly and ran away.

My mother didn’t talk to me for two days after that. It was the usual clash of generations. An asserting teenager behaving like an ‘aflatoon’ (Plato, the Philosopher) and a mother yet not ready to accept an independent, thinking on its own two feet, mind.

Throughout the four years of my college (in Pakistan) Psychology remained one of my subjects. When I finished college, Mrs. Zakaria had replaced Ms. Buksh. Why? Because we moved to another town. It was here that I decided to do my Masters in a different subject. (This is a post in itself for another time.)

I hadn’t thought about Ms Buksh for years now, but recent events in politics reminded me of her and her lectures.

Once we did a workshop on behavior – how and why people behave in certain ways in certain situations. One can win or lose one’s argument depending on how one behaves presenting it. This includes body language along with the choice of words. A person who knows what he is saying is not correct but does not want to admit it, shall resort to using insulting language to unsettle his opponent. He shall become belligerent to impose his superiority. He shall be rude, and belittle the person he knows little about… only wanting to hide his own shortcomings.

I listened to Mr. Bollinger’s speech and wondered about her impact on him had he been her student once!

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