The advertisement appeared just right for someone who wished to develop a pleasing personality through effective communication. Even though the fee was a little exorbitant for my comfort, 1 thought 1 could persuade Smitha, my young and beautiful but arrogant and self-opinionated, daughter-in-law, to attend the programme. It was, after all, being conducted by a foreigner in a five-star hotel.
I deliberated almost for a week on how I should mention it to Smitha, fearing her strong reaction to such a suggestion. Finding her in a congenial mood one day (which was rare), I ventured to mention the advertisement, saying it was a programme worth giving a try and gingerly looked up to see how Smitha took it.
“Mama, why me of all people? You must be out of your mind! 1 don’t think I need to develop a pleasing personality because I already have one. As for the ‘effective communication’ part, I think you will agree that I am the only effective communicator in the whole family.” (I dared not tell her that personality did not mean having only good looks and effective communication was not one-sided conversation.)
Not one to accept defeat easily, I tried the next best approach and hoped it would work.
“Smitha, this is the first of its kind to be conducted by a foreigner, someone who is very highly of. And they are organising it in one of the five-star hotels in the city,” I ventured, knowing her obsession with white skin and five-star food.
Smitha fell for the bait faster than I expected.
The programme commenced in right earnest and I noticed that Smitha was enjoying every bit . She woke up earlier than usual, paid extra attention to her clothes and dashed off with a glint in her eye in the only car we have, leaving my son to make his own arrangements to reach his office.
On the penultimate day, I asked Smitha what the whole course was about and whether she was finding the programme useful.
Oh, yes, Mama, it is fabulous, Smitha enthused: “I am glad you chose the right one for me!”
Feeling inwardly happy, I waited for her to continue, but she said nothing.
So, how is the director and how is the participation, 1 asked.
“Ms. Young is fantastic, so good-looking and charming. All of us just adore her,” she said.
“Adore her for what? Did you all learn something new, something you did not know already?” I could not help asking.
“Yes, I think we did,” she said hesitantly.
“Then why don’t you tell me something about the way she went about conducting the programme?”
Smitha thought for a while and said, “Mama, we had a lot of role playing to do, share our experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant. We had to change partners at least four times in the course of two days.”
“That must have been very interesting, finding a new person and learning all about him or her in the process,” I observed.
“Yes, you:re right, Mama. It was very interesting. For instance, my first partner had a problem with his wife who was more educated than him. Obviously, it was an ego problem. The second partner, a woman, had a tyrant for her mother-in-law. The third was a bachelor who had difficulty in proposing to a girl as he was a very shy person. The fourth was a young man who had no staying power in any job.”
So, how did you handle all of them, I asked curiously.
“I did extremely well,” Smitha said very confidently. “Our course director reiterated all along the importance of listening in communication. In fact, she over emphasised this aspect. Therefore, we all listened to each other very patiently, though sometimes it was an effort to do so. Also, she told us how we could overcome indecisivensess and procrastination,” said Smitha all in one breath.
I congratulated myself for my decision and looked forward to the young woman turning into a good listener for a change and doing things in time without procrastinating, as was her habit, and become more decisive in things that mattered.
“So, Smitha, it must have been a good experience for you, getting the maximum exposure in the minimum time,” I said when a smiling Smitha came back late in the evening on the last day of the workshop.
“Yes, it’s been worth every moment of it, I must say. Thank You, Mama for sending me to the programme and paying for it.” (I knew I had paid through my nose, but thought the money was well spent.)
Then Smitha’s next words almost made my heart stop.
“Mama, now I have learnt how not to procrastinate and delay decisions. I made up my mind to move out and live an independent life.”
When the words sank in I ventured to ask, “You mean live all by yourself?”
“Well, it depends. If your son Raju wishes to join me, he could do so,” Smitha replied without batting an eyelid.
I noticed my son standing mutely on a side with a helpless look about him.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao