<b>Slice of life:</b> Sense of entitlement
Take any close relationship you know, not necessarily a romantic one, where two people genuinely love each other and their love for the other person is beyond question and cannot ever be doubted. It could be a parent-child relationship, a relationship with a friend who is more like a sibling, or a relationship between distant cousins who are very close. No matter what ‘slots’ these relationships fall into — after all society does like to fit relationships into neatly defined boxed by giving it names — at some point or another, a sense of entitlement does creep into them.
You tend to take liberties with those you love. You expect certain things. You even demand things at times, as you do not see it as an encroachment. It is ‘no-big-deal’ as after all you know that other person so well, and you are certain that they will not mind. However the line between ‘minding and not-minding’ is very thin, shifts easily and is highly dependent on the past few interactions. If you land up unannounced at your close friend’s place they may not mind the first time. But do it many times over, and it definitely will cause friction.
The same goes for keeping in touch. We all have those friends, who get in touch only when they need something. When you need something, they are always busy or unavailable. Then there is the friend, who vanishes for months together. When they do resurface in your life, there is no apology, no explanation as both parties are genuinely happy to reconnect. I have many friends with whom I can pick up right where I left off, even if it has been years since either of us spoke a word to each other. Mostly these bonds forged in childhood, are so strong that passage of time doesn’t weaken them.
Then there is the ultimate relationship — the one you have with your parents. Most people take their parents for granted. Adult children presume it is okay to not be in touch with their parents on a regular basis, as they expect that parents would understand if they were submerged in their careers. There are hardly any phone calls, and if at all, it is only to convey an achievement or an accomplishment. The parents welcome the phone calls even if they are sparse and far few. Parents know no other way, and I am yet to meet an unforgiving parent, no matter how ornery the child’s behaviour is.
A wonderful movie that I watched last night called The Fundamentals of Caring elucidated this. The movie is about a wheelchair-bound teen and his caregiver, and how a road-trip helps them overcome their deepest fears, pushes them to go beyond the limitations of their minds. The teen has a nasty side, is angry and upset — understandably so — and yet his mother deals with him, firmly and kindly, with a large dose of dark humour. He strikes a friendship with his caregiver and the relationship is close, symbiotic and life changing.
Any relationship — even a parent-child one, needs nurturing. If the children constantly keep taking from the parent, the parent at some point is bound to snap. If the parents are too domineering, then the child gets stifled.
Whatever be the nature of your relationship, at what point do you know you care for someone? It is when you put your conveniences aside, and care for them to the extent where you make their dreams, their hopes and their aspirations your own. True happiness comes only when you do something that YOU find fulfiling. Living someone else’s dream is never going to bring you real satisfaction. For sometime you may delude yourself that you are happy. But deep down you know. It goes against the fundamentals of caring. For any relationship to be successful what has to go is the sense of ‘entitlement’. People do not owe you their time or their affections. You have to earn it though your actions and constantly making an effort to show them that they are valued, loved and cared for. Only then will a relationship bloom and sustain. Else, it will be superficial, where you pick up the phone and make small talk, telling each other what is going on in your lives, and then moving on only to reconnect over another call months or years later.
Genuine love is when you are grateful to have the other person in your life. And you constantly remind yourself of your good fortune, and they too feel the same.

(Preeti Shenoy is the author of eight bestselling books,the latest being a fiction titled It’s All In The Planets)
Preeti Shenoy