Life - The circle of influence
by Suma Varughese
We continue with the saga of the sathe family (see lead story, september 2010 http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/Life/Sweet_solutions_to_lifes_little_troubles92010.asp) through a regular column exploring sound solutions to everyday problems
It was dinner-time
one sultry November
Sunday at the Sathes’.
Mom had produced a
and paneer biryani.
The flavour was redolent
with the smell of
fried onions and spices,
mingled with coriander
and pudina. Ashish was
frankly drooling and trying
to pick up some of
the cashews on top, hoping
no one would notice.
Too bad, Alka did and gave him a smart
rap on his hand.
But why was no one eating? Oh, oh,
that empty chair gave away the answer.
Dad was missing.
“I ’m hungry ,” moaned Alka,
pretending to fall over into a faint
over her plate.
“Where’s dad?” clamoured Ashish
for the nth time, craning his neck to
check if the said personage was anywhere
“He’s talking to Ramesh uncle on the
phone about politics,” said Mom significantly.
Everyone around the table
groaned. They knew what that meant.
A cold dinner. Dad loved discussing
politics with his best buddy, and that
too at length.
Ashish kicked Nisha under the table.
“Go and get Dad,” he told her. “You are
his favourite. He won’t say no to you.”
Nothing loath, Nisha slid out from
the table and ran
to the study where
a voice could be
heard holding forth
with great fervour.
The family listened
as Nisha smoothly
took the receiver from
her father’s hand and
spoke on the phone,
“Sorry, uncle,” she said
firmly, “but Dad has a
date with us, and he
is very late…” Down
went the receiver. Soon
they could hear two pairs of footsteps
“Neatly done,” said Ashish approvingly.
“The girl is getting quite assertive,”
said her mother with delight.
Nisha appeared, leading Dad by the
hand. “Sorry, folks,” said Dad, looking
shame-faced at the circle of accusing eyes
facing him. “I got a bit carried away…
Wow, biryani. Let’s eat!”
After the family had sated their first
pangs of hunger, the conversation
Dad had a thoughtful expression on
his face. “I must have had that conversation
with Ramesh a hundred times at
least. And nothing comes out of it ever!
The state of our country troubles me,
but this is not the way to go.”
Ajoba put his left hand gently on
his son’s right arm. “Why not discuss
something you can change?”
“Yes, like getting the society people
to sort out the garbage into wet and dry
heaps, or trying to get more buses for
our area. Earlier, we used to have a bus
every 10 minutes. Now we have to wait
for half an hour,” said mom.
Dad brightened “You are right,
baba,” he said.
Ajoba continued. “Stephen Covey,
the man who wrote about the Seven
Habits, talked about two circles – the
Circle of Concern and the Circle of
Influence. The Circle of Concern relates
to all the stuff that interests us and bothers
us – the Commonwealth Games, the
Babri Masjid issue, the corruption
in society, or SRK’s six pack. Obviously
this is far bigger than the Circle
of Influence which nests within it
for it relates to what we can do something
He added, “The more we stay in our
Circle of Influence the bigger it gets and
if we stick with it, it can soon get closer
and closer to our Circle of Concern.”
Dad looked fascinated, “You mean
if I focus on issues I can do something
about, I may get to a place where I can
influence national politics?”
“If that is what you want. How did
Gandhi get to where he was? He started
out protesting against discrimination in
South Africa and he ended up getting
our country its freedom.”
“Hey, dad,” said Ashish slyly, looking
at his father’s excited face, “Better get
your Gandhi topi ready!”
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