I am a rather thoughtful person who believes in doing special things for people who I am very close to. I remember special days, I think of little things that can brighten the day for people I love and I can be sweet if I choose to be, not just on special days, but even on any random day. As a person who does not believe in materialistic pleasure as the perfect gift, I send people notes about why they are special, sing songs I know are their favourites and go for similar gifts that are not always valued for their price, but the emotions involved. Those are things which make me the happiest too. So obviously, I am a person who is touched by gestures of love provided they come from people who know just the right amount to make me happy without overwhelming or suffocating me. I don’t like it if people try to buy me too many gifts because it becomes an obligation sometimes. But when I am bestowed with a gift that comes with a lot of love from someone close to me, I think of it as an honour that he/she wanted to make me happy or give me a surprise. I know how much they would have looked forward to seeing my reaction on receiving the gift. Like Chandler says in an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S., “I want to see the look on her face when I give her my gift.”
But there are many people who are not sensitive enough to understand or appreciate the feelings behind a gift. They neither see the amount of time or the thoughts put into deciding the perfect gift, nor do they see the disappointment or heartbreak in the other person when their gesture of love is belittled.
I remember my mother digging up photos of my father from different stages of his life, starting with his baby picture and getting a framed collage of it all for his birthday a few years back. My father opened the gift, gave a 15-minute-long speech on what all was wrong with the selected photos, their alignment, size, the background etc. with a look of strong disapproval and concluded that it was not worthy of being hung on any wall that people could see. He missed the simple point that it was not a product that he ordered with specific customizations and delivered in a faulty condition. It was a gift – something that my mother didn’t have to get him; nonetheless she did, that too by putting in a lot of efforts. My mother was crushed by this display of insensitivity of course. I could empathize very well because only a couple of years before that I had gifted him a phone which I knew he would love and found myself at the receiving end when he refused to even touch it. These are only two of the many similar ‘happy gift’ moments in my family.
On Hari’s side, the specialist in breaking hearts is his mother although everyone else there follows close behind in the race. I remember him spending hours before flying back from the U.S. trying to find the perfect gifts for his family. His sister-in-law never wore the earrings we gave, his brother made fun of the wallet he got as well as the clothes and toys bought for our nephew, his father thought Hari shouldn’t have bought the watch he bought for him; but his mother went one step ahead by saying scornfully that she had to soon find someone who would use the watch she was given so that she could give it away, explicitly saying why she didn’t like it. Because of a number of times of ‘heartbreak ritual’ we went through by doing something special for her (taking her out somewhere, buying her things), we chose to buy a simple cake for her to cut at teatime on her birthday a couple of weeks ago. It was, in our opinion, the safest gift. But she proved us wrong by refusing to cut the cake and declaring that she was not going to taste it at all because apparently cakes are bad for health.
As I said earlier, there are so many people like this. It need not necessarily be a sadistic pleasure that makes them do it. Sometimes it is simply an inability to think about others and their feelings. Not all of them are even aware of the hurt caused in the other person’s mind by their act. They do not understand that a sincere smile is all we expect in return when we hand them whatever we got for them and wait for them to open it. I don’t know if they even notice the smile on our faces fading or our eyes welling up. But there is only so much that you can do to make them understand how bad you felt or what was wrong on their side. These are feelings that should be there inherently and we can’t really force it out. So if you are the ‘giver’ who’s had your heart broken multiple times – stop, think and decide whether you want to go through this over and over again, feel a definite sense of resentment at some point and throw away whatever relationship that exists or pull back a little and simply preserve the relationship by being there and not showering affection in ways that will not be accepted.
Don’t worry. For every person like this in your life, there will be a number of others whose face will lighten up when you do something sweet for them. If you can’t think of anyone else, inbox me. I’ll send my address. 😀
Also published on Medium.