Anjali called me to play a new game that Amar mama had gifted to her (actually Aditi did). It was a square composed of letters on one side and numbers on the other. One goes about picking the scrabble like tablets with numbers and alphabets on them until the words or numbers on the board is done and then the game is over. Being adult like I instantly started taking all the alphabets that came my way and started to build my words and numbers, keeping a wary eye of Anjali’s progress. She seemed to be doing better than me.
She also seemed to be paying the game differently. Firstly she did not have a concept of waitng for her turn. She happily went about flipping all the tablets to find what she needed. ‘I need an A nanna!’ she announced and started looking for it. And then she found that I had an A which I could not use. ‘Nanna, I need that A!’she exclaimed as if I was hoarding all the As in the world. I let her have it. And then she noticed something she had that I needed and she passed it on to me. ‘Nanna, here is a P’ and so on. The game was moving rapidly with these new rules and I noticed that she was almost done. She saw me looking for my alphabets and numbers and decided to postpone her game altogether and help me out. So came the alphabets I wanted. ‘Here is an A, a U…hey even I need a U..’ and so on. And while she did mine first, she finished her words as well. And it was time for high fives!
I could not help noticing how focused I was on finishing my words to the extent of ignoring hers. But she was open, doing her thing and also noticing that nanna also needed some. And when I had something I needed, which she also needed, I realized that it was only in the third game that I gave it to her first, something that she had been happily doing all along. If she needed a letter (and I needed it as well) she would give it to me first. And she gave, again and again, until I got over my fear of losing, my fear of lack, in other words, and started reciprocating. And she was as happy at my finishing as she was with hers.
I learnt that we can all win. Not necessarily only one. Or the other. And I also realized one thing. That when I consciously helped her find the N that she so badly needed, I found an N that I needed instantly as well.
Competing hard is one thing. And competing to win by pulling the other down is another. Anjali's was a completely different strategy. You compete hard, you also help the other because you think he is not able to figure it out. Something up there, then opens doors to you too, and well, we can all live happily ever after. We can compete hard with ourselves, to better ourselves. We can make this a better world for ourselves. So we can celebrate together. We can compete with one another, within our own team.
We can compete to help each other out as well. Which is what we ended up doing. And feeling good about it all.