Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pity

"What a pity that he was taking a leak when they were distributing brains", said a friend of me in the sort of sotto voce comment that is meant to be audible to the person being discussed.

Pity! Now, someone said that pity is merely sympathy clothed in bad manners. It was no use consoling myself that I ought to pity the speaker for his bad manners since it did not seem like there was any sympathy involved in the equation at all. It was more of a 'Thank God I am not he' sort of tone than anything that felt in the least bit sad about the fact that I was shy a few grey cells.

I do not know whether it is exclusively my experience or whether it is generic. This word pity is probably the one word that is used in conversations most pitilessly. Whenever someone says,"What a pity ....." about something related to me, it has invariably meant that that person was feeling superior about having something that I lacked (Or lacking something that I have - like verbal diarrhea). Sympathy is probably the 'There, but for the grace of God, go I' feeling where the speaker understands that he could have been in my shoes but for the grace of God (I know! I know! It is sort of difficult to imagine yourself, under even the most calamitous of circumstances, in my shoes but still...). Pity is invariably the 'No matter how bad I am, happily I am still not Suresh' sort of feeling.

So, it is not merely bad manners but something that arises from the mind. Feeling kinship with me (yes, it is difficult but life is not supposed to be a bed of roses) leads to sympathy; feeling contempt (It is oh so easy but, then, you need to steel yourself and take the difficult path like a human) leads to pity - or, more to the point, to "What a pity....."

I am sure you have understood why pity is, normally, abhorrent. You have not? What a pity.

40 comments:

  1. Yet again, you manage to humor us with your pitifully written post :D

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  2. Ha ha Suresh. Now I will be more conscious whenever someone feels pity for me. That means I am in a set of deplorable shoes :)

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    1. It is the one who pities who needs to be pitied :)

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  3. I liked it very much and enjoyed it. Nice write up…
    Just visit us at www.sureshotpost.com
    Yours
    Shashikant

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  4. What a pity that pity does not seem pitiable enough for thee. Ah, for pity's sake . . .

    Pitifully,
    A sympathiser!

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  5. hmm yes..life is not a bed of roses...we tend to go soft on life by pitying at times..sometimes on others, sometime on our own selves...

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  6. The one line that kept coming to mind after reading this post is - 'Enna Kodumai Saar Idhu'! Just don't know why!

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  7. I pity myself for never having read your first few posts. One day, I am going to sit and read all your posts. I like it when someone writes about such varied emotions. Err, I guess you can call "pity" an emotion. :)

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    1. It is, Pooja! And that is music to any writer's ears to have someone expressing the intent to read all that he has written. Thanks!

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  8. It's a pity that I have not thought about this little word to the extent that your piece made me do! When I say this, am I being sympathetic to myself? As per your advice, decidedly not! Hehhehhe. :P

    Charming little piece.

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  9. But sir, Man (and women too, as much, if not more) is an animal which needs self-glorification, at the cost of others. Moments of others' despair make us naturally feel good even if we try to avoid it(why else are we following, say, the Fillipino tragedy with great interest?).

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    1. It is a sorry sort of person who needs to feel good only in comparison with others' misery, Adarsh! And it would be a sorry day for the world if all people felt it was normal to feel happy in others' misery.

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  10. I'd say, "What a pity!" if you were cured of "verbal diarrhoea"!!

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  11. I think i missed to push the public button.
    Pithy post-got to be wary of those showing pity now.

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    1. Hmm - Distinguishing pity and sympathy is difficult for the recipient - the one who shows it however knows what he is up to.

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  12. Only the sensitive and the sensible know the finer nuances of pity, sympathy and empathy. But there are some people who thrive on pity. God bless the souls.

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    1. As the recipient, yes, it is more difficult to understand these nuances, Purba! The speaker knows how he feels - superior or in tune with the recipient. Only thing is most people have developed lying to themselves as a fine art :)

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  13. In words I would say the words are used sarcastically. But yes in spirit it is often bathed in ulterior motives. I would still continue to use these words in jest but in spirit they will always be harmless. "I shapath" :D

    Richa

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  14. Lovely x-ray vision, SC. Capable of turning someone's feelings of superiority, er sympathy, to discomfort and then bitter gall!

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  15. That was a pithy article indeed.

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  16. Replies
    1. Some internet black hole seems to have swallowed it FiF! :) Not in spam, not in comments awaiting moderation.

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  17. Oh really? because I think I must be the first one to comment as I read it within like 5 mins of the post went out..anyways, never mind..you got this one...so, you didn't ignore me...heheh just kidding :)

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  18. Suresh, I have a feeling the best brains are disbursed under pee-shades. It's a pity I wasn't there!

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    1. If that is true Uma you were there all right and ahead of me in the queue :)

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  19. And here I thought that only obnoxious and old British ladies use the word.

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    1. Use the word or not, lots of people feel pity rather than sympathy, Amit!

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