Spice of life: I have a complaint to make

  • Pallavi Singh
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2015 10:18 IST

Guy Bellamy is a little-known English writer whose tongue-in-cheek humour, deft way with the language and cheeky innuendoes make for light and delightful reading. His book ‘I Have A Complaint To Make’ is one of my favourites and although what I have to say here has nothing to do with it, I just loved the plaintive, melancholic tone of the title because complain is what we do, day in, day out. The state our country is in, the ever-growing population, the chaotic traffic conditions and miserable roads, the good-for-nothing politicians, children who pay no heed to us, all provide fodder for our whining and we can drone on all day, wallowing in self-pity.

There is the hypochondriac, beholding a pained and perpetually martyred expression. Given an inch, such people will take a mile, and with morbid pleasure recount a detailed inventory of problems, starting with early-morning ablutions and then continue in minute detail to the rest of the day. I begin listening politely, determined to be nice and supportive, but soon the complaints become embarrassingly graphic and a little unsavoury. I start getting queasy. Soon, the litany becomes so monotonous and boring that my eyes start to glaze over and I zone out.

Of course, the proverbial mother-in-law is always a cause for complaint and her misdemeanour towards the miserable, longsuffering daughter-in-law is legendary, but here I put a gentle stop to the malicious flow by a firm reminder of mine, who is a sweetheart and a gem.

Being overworked and understaffed is another seemingly valid reason to catch hold of a willing ear to pour your troubles into, irrespective of the fact that the poor recipient of your unwanted attention — albeit, complaints — is no longer listening and is heading furtively for the door!

A very common sight is a pompous, opinionated, slightly inebriated patron at a restaurant who will harangue the waiters, the manager and the chef and let loose a barrage of complaints, finding fault with the quality of food, the air-conditioning or even the conduct of guests at the neighbouring table.

Summers are always awfully hot and winters are bitterly cold, but we must whine and carp at the start of every season, knowing fully well that in the future too, weather conditions would, in all probability, remain unchanged.

Complaining constantly requires energy, lots of spare time and some imagination. Why don’t we make a conscious effort to celebrate this glorious gift of Life that the Almighty has bestowed on us? A beautiful life, with its highs and lows, ups and downs, sorrows and joy? Like Helen Keller, the deaf-blind American, who went to be a role model for a positive life, said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see a shadow.”

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