Monday, January 18, 2016

The plight of the favourite

I know someone who dislikes her boss (true, that’s at least half the world), but is favoured by him. She receives due acknowledgement for her work, opportunities for more productive work, and some aid in negotiating administrative hurdles in her professional life. She didn’t seek this special attention, and doesn’t really revel in it, although the availability of opportunities and the absence of hurdles are not unwelcome. What’s unwelcome, and not entirely fair, is the inexorable envy of her colleagues.

I know someone who through chance events (X-Y pairing, and originating in the family of a particular person) became the favoured grandchild of a certain grandfather who held a good deal of sway. The grandfather, despite being well-supplied with grandchildren of either sex, chose to demonstrate his adoration of this child flagrantly, with visible gifts and special privileges, in full view of the other grandchildren. The favoured one is reputed (by his irate cousins) to have had his head turned by this coddling, which, even if true, lays the blame at the parents’ and grandparents’ feet rather than the child’s. In any case, he earned a great deal of bullying in his childhood, which turned to private scoffing and aloofness as maturity intervened.

I know someone who is a decent, insightful, intelligent, responsible and fun person, deserving of most of the popularity he enjoys. In addition, he is a light-complexioned Indian male, of a fairly privileged community, and holds the positions of son-in-law, brother-in-law, etc., which grant him special status more or less automatically. He has to contend with the annoyance of his less-advantaged peers, of either sex, who cannot dismiss all the adulation he gets as unjustified, but chafe, all the same, at the moiety of the adulation that is (unjustified by his character, skills, or work).

Persons in power – relatives, friends, bosses – often pick one or a few of their ‘subjects’ to favour, and to unabashedly and insensitively shower with attention, gifts, and opportunities. The ones bypassed are rightfully aggrieved, and often demonstrate their displeasure in resentful silence, plentiful gossip, complaints through ‘proper channels’, if any, or all too often, in mistreatment of the favourites. This last is an unfortunate, and seldom justified, recourse.

Not all favourites are sycophants, diligently sucking up to the authorities to ensure a smooth and undeserved ride for themselves. Some certainly are, and this is not about them, the *$#@&%! Others are simple souls, wending their way through life in all rectitude, neither seeking nor enjoying the glare of the authorities’ attention. That they do not shun the opportunities that come their way does not automatically make them undeserving. And the fact that some of them merit at least some of the favour they enjoy, making it tough for a fair observer to summarily dismiss their popularity and detest them whole-heartedly, is not their fault. This is more or less a ‘poor little rich boy’ situation. Many favourites even experience a measure of self-doubt at intervals, when contemplating the smooth path that stretches out before and behind them. It can be tough to negotiate the intricacies of these social associations, various combinations of fair and pleasant.

Not having had (or at least, not admitting to) first-hand experience of such favour, but having observed representatives of both the favoured and the envious subgroups, I speak from a point of detachment and empathy!

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