I was visiting my aunt, one of my mother’s sisters with my one year old daughter. On the way from my in-law’s home to my aunt’s place I asked the cab driver to stop at a particular local sweet stall. The driver told me that he could take me to a better sweet stall and I went along with his suggestion. The moment I saw the shop I hesitated but the driver assured me that the sweets would be good and I bought them. I presented the sweets to my aunt, had lunch with her and her husband, spent some more time in her company and went straight to my in-law’s home.
The next day I get a call from my aunt who gently lets me know that the sweets that I bought her were of bad quality. They were made using inferior quality of oil. They were so awful that she had no option but to throw it away. She felt bad about wasting all that money. She wished that I had just showed up without feeling compelled to bring a gift along.
I was embarrassed and mortified at my own stupidity. I was also worried about my mother-in-law’s reaction as she would have heard my side of the conversation and guessed who and what was being discussed. Her words of advice to me were: “ Stick to fruits, it is the safest and traditional way of gifting an elder.”
My initial concern was that soon the story of my stupidity was going to circulate among my relatives embarrassing not only me but my parents too! I berated myself and wondered how I could so easily get duped by a stranger, the cab driver? Why didn’t I decide not to buy the sweets the moment I wasn’t impressed by the shop? Even if I decided to overrule my initial judgement why didn’t I have the sense to sample the sweets before buying?
I analysed my behaviour and came to the conclusion that I would have not acted this dumb if I were at ease. I was stressed out because I had underestimated the time to reach my aunt’s place and I was hell bent on impressing my aunt with my punctuality at the same time I didn’t want to turn up at her place empty handed. I had let my in-laws know exactly when to expect me back home and I wanted to keep up my word at any cost.
It took me a while to turn my attention from feeling like a total idiot to what my aunt would have thought of it. I think she felt totally hurt and insulted by the quality of the gift (I don’t blame her). I made her feel unimportant and worthless. I think she called me mainly to let me know that I had slighted her and that I had better learn to treat her respectfully from then on.
On the personal end, I learnt that I need to learn a lot about prioritizing and organizing.