I looked at my Dad’s face. He looked crest-fallen. As he caught me looking at him, he quietly muttered, “Thank you bhi nahi bola.” (She didn’t even say thank you). It was familiar sight for me.
My mother was the pivot of my father’s world. Everytime he went on a tour out of the city he would squeeze in time to get her a gift. He had great taste in sarees, and very often he would pick the best hand-crafted saree from the town he was in. When it came to good things for my mother, he would splurge without a second thought. When he returned, excited about his purchase, he would look at her face expecting to see a reaction.
My mother belonged to a completely different school of thought. She would look at the saree and murmur a hmm and keep it aside. It didn’t matter how stunning the saree was. The reaction was the same. At the most she would ask how much it cost. But he hardly got the feedback he was looking for. If my mother ever heard his complaint, she probably said a forced thank you, with a smirk on her face. She never quite understood the need to say thank you to your own people. She thought it was too formal.
I am completely my father’s daughter. So proclaimed my mother. Thank yous matter to me. Even at the work place, a word of appreciation or a thank you fills me with new energy and can get me working super hard. And you always know when someone genuinely means thank you, and when someone is saying it for effect. Research shows that employees value acknowledgement of their work more than material benefits. Unfortunately the number of bosses who understand the implications of this behaviour are far and few. And you can see the quality of work suffer in organizations where people begin to work mechanically. After all if mediocrity gets the same response as the drive for excellence, why should one sweat it out? A lot is said about internal motivation, but without the external trigger, that motivation doesn’t sustain forever.
At home, I fight another demon. Cooking was something I learnt after I got married. Initially as a compulsion, but later to prove that it wasn’t something I couldn’t do. I taught myself using the internet. Now I am not scared to experiment with new ideas and churn out new recipes. But the lack of genuine feedback gets on my nerves here far too quickly. When you have racked your brains, and sweated it out in the hot kitchen you at least expect a nod of approval. But it has required years of training to let the hubby know that I’m not cooking the next time if you simply wolve down the contents of the plate without a decent response. As for people who only criticize, they are not welcome to taste my cooking at all.
Even more infuriating is my nephew. I churn out novel recipes to suit his palate. And he will fill his plate, and chomp on the chow, while staring unblinkingly at the television screen without a word. The husband, now familiar with my seething temperament, tries to nudge him to speak. But he doesn’t take the hint. Or maybe he does and doesn’t care. So he gets a lecture from my hubby on how he must appreciate the cook’s effort.
The next day at dinner, he says: “Awesome, wow, how tasty!” all in one breath. All before even putting a morsel of food in his mouth. If I could wring his neck and beat him into pulp, I would. Most definitely.