I went to a public school four kilometers southeast of our house in Allahabad. Our school was never too many kids. There were no “sections”. It was only 40 to 50 students per batch. We had “sections” in our batch twice in my 15 years of schooling; that is an unclear memory.
You know how every school has some kids who’s either (or both) parents decide to work at the same school? These kids fall under a privileged category. If allowed to grow in the same school for nearly a decade, they come out to become what C. S. Lewis called Bloods – a special class of school elites. Every school has bloods.
As fate would have it, a blood was enrolled in the same batch as me. She was one fair fat girl. Most of my classmates, somehow at a very tender age, became aware that it was good to be in her good books. She would pick her friends every once in a while. Everyone wanted to be picked.
One fine day, I and a couple of other girls were picked together by blood just before lunch time. I believed I must have become likable in her sight to be picked by her highness. We accompanied her and her companion to the playground, where we used to have lunch.
Lunch with blood was an event. We would carefully tuck our pleated skirts and sit in a circle. Everybody spoke less around blood. One by one, we would present our lunchboxes to blood and she and her companion would eat as they chose from the food-offerings. My lunchbox seemed to please the lords since I did not get to eat that day. But in return for the food-offering, I had formed “friendship” with blood. To be honest, it felt worth.
Soon after lunch-break, blood sent for us and apparently “broke bonds” with us commoners and went to the classroom. I was too young to understand. But I didn’t mind much.
The next day, blood approached us again before lunch-time and forged friendship with us. We were again pleased to have her highness and offer our food to her. The pattern repeated for three days.
By the third day, I became convinced that blood had become fat because she ate other kids’ lunches all the time. After having to go three days without lunch, I had forsaken all desire to be lunch-friends with her and rejected her offer and went on to have lunch on my own. A bunch of other commoners did not. Especially a close friend who went on to be in crisis for identity for a long time from then. I left blood to become friends with a girl given to runny nose and skin allergy. But unlike blood, her heart was a heart of gold. As of today, she is one of the chicest girl I know.
You see – offering our lunch to bloods did not make us bloods. But it made us feel significant for some time. Feeling significant was quite a need, even at that tender age. But that self-acclaimed significance was gained from food sacrifice (or some sort of sacrifice), and was not imparted from bloods‘ end. A blood would never think in a thousand years that a commoner was special.
The parameters of elitism change for every generation in every half-a-decade for every race in every country. To feel significant, one feels the need to conform to fit in. The battle to become “cool” or “chic” has been fought for ages. But, the secret that nobody says out loud is: if you are not intrinsically “cool” or “chic”, nothing external to you will make you that, at least in the long run.
Sacrifices to conform are not always made in lunch-box-terms. Sometimes these sacrifices are less evident and cost much more. But associations that demand such sacrifices never last.
Does it mean I have never given in to wanting to feel significant? I have. I have compromised on my morale. I have fallen from my place to meet the standards of a bunch of people. I have realized on the third day that the lords demanded more of sacrifices, and less of me.
I know because then, I met Love. And, Love was different. Love was pure-blood. Love said, “I desire mercy; not sacrifice.” Love’s friendship was different. To Love, I mattered. A lot. Love was not interested to have my lunch-box. But Love was careful about what I ate. As I spent more and more time with Love, I became more and more pure-blood like him. Love slowly transformed me.
Love said, “I desire mercy; not sacrifice.”
Love slowly transformed me.
Now one would say, “It still changed you, right?” It did. The battle is not against change. We cannot battle change. Because what does not change is stagnant. And life is not stagnant. As long as we live on this planet, we will change – for good or for bad. The tryst is with changing for good – for transforming our hearts to become our true selves, not conforming our exteriors to fit in.
So many times, we meet people in life we think love us – people who would want to change so many things about our exterior selves and would still be incapable of loving us. But love does not work on such low grounds. Love fulfills. Love says “I come so you may have life in abundance”. There is only so much we can do to obtain love. We can never earn love or be wholly worthy of it. Love comes as a free gift. It offers before it can even remotely demand. When Love is wholesome, we begin to walk like bloods.
Social elitism is mostly facade. Attempts to conform to fit in with people are deep-seated rejections from our own being. The more we conform and kill our uniqueness, the louder we announce that if I were you, even I would not love myself.
Celebrate yourselves. Build upon your uniqueness. Let Love come around. Love will teach you higher ways. Love will prepare you to walk like blood according to his original purpose.
Love is awesome when it is patient and kind. When it neither envies, nor boasts. It is amazing when it is not proud; when it does not dishonor others, when it is not self-seeking, nor easily angered. Love is awesome when it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love is awesome because LOVE NEVER FAILS.
Picture by Shalom Christopher