Competition by Navina Anand

“Why can’t you take down notes nicely like Ramya” said Shilpa’s mother when she saw Ramya’s notebook. Shilpa had borrowed it from Ramya at school to copy down some notes for the days that she had been absent to school. Ramya sighed. Should have hidden the notebook from mom’s sight. The next day as she walked up to school, she saw Chetna getting off the school bus. She eyed her enviously. Chetna, in her perfectly ironed uniform without a pleat out of place, her yellow hairband to match the yellow skirt, her blindingly white canvas shoes and her socks which didn’t fall to the ankles because it was out of elastic like Shilpa’s did. Shilpa could not help gawking at Chetna.

Viraj was eagerly awaiting his IIT JEE results. Everybody around him hailed him as a genius and his coaching academy professor was confident that he would do exceptionally well. The results were out. He looked at it stunned. He thought his legs would give way. He found a bench, sat down and wept- the students around him looked at him with a little concern. He was ranked All India #2 in the National exams. He had missed #1 by a whisker.

“Can you input these salary package numbers in that promotional letter for Sonali” said the HR manager to Priya handing over the document. Priya was the HR associate at a band 7 level and Sonali was being promoted into the same grade as her. But her salary numbers were higher than hers! How can they do this! She has been doing a fabulous job for the past two years and is earning less than a newly promoted person! She must be a ‘pretty little thing’ who has her boss wrapped around her little finger.

Aditya was crestfallen when his name was announced as one of the winners. He was the runner up in the “Mr. Olympia” bodybuilding competition. He struggled to plaster a smile on his face as he gracefully congratulated the winner. The success was bitter sweet. He stood with his plastic smile trying hard to be happy as the winner walked up to the front of the stage and preened.

Diya started looking at YouTube videos for the best recipe. It was a relaxed Saturday morning and she decided that today is a good day to impress her family with her culinary skills. Growing up as an only child she was pampered. She hadn’t even fixed herself a cup of tea before her wedding. Making Maggi was the extent of her cooking prowess. But, today, Diya beamed as the aroma of the pulao wafted from the Kadai. It looked and smelled perfect.  She proudly served it for lunch when her husband said “Wow Diya. Yummy! Tastes just like my mom’s “. The beaming stopped.

So many events in our life that are by themselves satisfying, seem to lose their lustre when compared to something else. There is always competition in every sphere of life. We are only as happy as the other person is sad. Why do we always feel like it is a zero-sum game. Why do we feel that we can be happy only as long as the winner takes it all? Should we see it as something that drives human innovation, inspires human achievement? or is it the bane of our existence?

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