"Hey man, your stomach is hanging out. Where did the abs go?" Critical Chopra threw that line at me, pointing to my almost flat stomach. Ever since...I could imagine mountains of fat, and was running on the treadmill determined to prove a point. Forty five minutes... One hour.. One hour 15 minutes.. I could feel the treadmill complaining and wanting to throw me off, but I would run till eternity. After all, I had to show Chopra I had the best abs in the building.
I could sense my sleuth Pleasing Patel doing spot jogging next to my treadmill. In fact, it was more like a soft ball bouncing leisurely. He finally stopped and stood next to my groaning treadmill. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it, Confuscious?” he said. “Can you take your criticism somewhere else Patel. I don’t have the time.” I snapped.
“Hey man! You can’t get the ball anymore.” It was Catty Kapoor shouting as we played our weekly soccer game. Suddenly I was transformed into a raging bull, determined to prove her wrong. I was kicking, punching, throwing everyone around. It was not a game anymore. It was a battle, and I was a warrior — in my head — battling with Kapoor’s words. “What has gotten into you, take it easy Confuscious,” it was Patel again.
But I just shoved him aside. I turned around to see Chopra and Kapoor laughing their heads off from the bleachers, munching on their buttered popcorns. And here I was, their ‘popcorn entertainment’, exhausted, sweat stained, frothing at the mouth — I felt like a loser! Patel came and sat next to me, as I wallowed in self pity and remorse. I didn’t have the energy to shoo him off this time. He offered me water and said, “Can I say you are an idiot. You break the treadmill to make them see how fit you are and now you behave like a wild boar to show them you are tough! You’re not leading your own life! It’s good to take criticism well. Even healthy. But it’s important to differentiate between positive and negative criticism. If it helps you grow, take it. But if the intention is to put you down, discard it! Or you’re just going to end up being a circus monkey, with the critics as your ring masters.”
As he got up to leave, I realised that he difference between good and bad criticism, was simply, the intention behind it. I got up and hugged Patel. “You know you and your criticism are the best things that have happened to me today!” I laughed as I left the stadium. Happy to have my ‘well intentioned critic’ with me.