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Month of August began and brought the ‘Tension of the Month’. It’s no ordinary birthday. It’s special, not because it comes only once in a year, but because it does not affect age of the person; my beloved wife. She is yet one or two years to reach 30 (but that is not the tension I am talking about). It was something which is very obvious.
Like every year, I initiated my research on birthday gift. Her demand is always simple. It should be unique, must make her happy, and should not be costly. This time, I changed my approach towards the research. I took a short cut. I went straight to my wife and asked, “Dear, what do you want for this birthday?” This question (no matter what the answer is) had a unique impact, just like; the keto-diet has on the weight of the person. I felt light at heart, feathery weight on legs and victorious smile on face. But all those feelings were short lived.
She gave a very obedient answer which looked simple and I had a doubt that it was readymade, “As you wish. Anything you like.”
I was back to square one, I felt like being bitten by the longest snake in the ‘snake and ladder’ game. With a bleak hope, I reopened my research project.
I chose another woman whom I knew and loved as much as my wife; my mother. She said,
“Don’t worry. Do what your Papa always did for my birthday. Buy something useful for the family. Like a dining table or a washing machine. Think about what is needed for the family and give her as a gift”. I felt relieved. I appreciated myself for my choice of the guide.
On the way out of my house, I dashed into Papa. Out of curiosity, I inquired about the gift.
Father innocently said, “What I did was possible during my time. Now it’s difficult”. The statement was as difficult as solving Rubik cube.
Understanding my plight, my father continued, “Your mother always demanded gold ornaments for her birthday. I could somehow manage to buy small ornaments as gold rate was low at that time.” Father paused and said, “Now gold rates are too high”.
My scrambled Rubik cube face continued. Father got confused and left the place without any clue. My puzzle was about my mother, “Why did she say that?”
My next bet was on my sister. She said, “Dear brother, plan a whole day program. Make it memorable. Gift is not important. What is important is to make the date unforgettable”.
The principle was laid down by my sister, but, how to make this principle work? When I was looking for a practical solution I was slapped with a theorem. The million dollar question was still hanging on my head.
After being disillusioned by these responses, I met my younger brother. He said, “Bro, she is your wife. Not a girlfriend. Why gift? Take her for dinner. I think that’s more than enough”.
My brother had grown by a leap year. He looked elder to me. Such a young age, so much of maturity. I fully agreed with him. But I lacked daring to implement his suggestion.
I kept all suggestions on the back burner (rejected mother’s advice, still could not understand her suggestion but it looked obvious for all, but for me (may be because love is blind as well as stupid) and decided to consult people of my age. I asked my colleagues. I got different suggestions ranging from ‘gold ring’ to ‘platinum pendent’, from ‘isolated evening’ to ‘week ends’.
As a final attempt, I called my mother-in-law. She said, “My daughter is not highly demanding. Give her anything out of love; she will accept it without complaint”. This proved the fact that (only) parental love is blind and I was not inclined to believe it (therefore, spousal love is not blind that is the statutory caution, which I didn’t read, but learnt painfully).
I called her friends. They looked more interested in having a party and most importantly involving them in the party.
It was late evening. Exhausted, I leaned back on my chair thinking about my fate for remaining part of the month. Finally, I decided to throw all my research work into the dustbin. I sat quiet for a long time. Tomorrow was the ‘judgement day’.
I went to sleep and was sure about opening my eyes in the morning. However, I was not sure about the state of my eyes by the evening.
Morning was usual. According to her expectation, I wished her in the bed. And beyond her expectation, I had fixed breakfast for her and the first bite made her give away a million dollar smile.
On the breakfast table, I narrated my journey till this morning. She laughed her heart out. She complained of painful cheeks and jaws, her eyes filled with tears, she continued to laugh and said something which I remember till today.
She said, “This is the best of my birthday celebration ever”.
Negotiation Principle: Involving more than necessary parties causes confusion and will lead to complications. “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, is applicable verbatim to negotiation situation also.
In the earlier story of “Tree The Hero”, the tree failed to identify all the parties in whom his interest lay. As a result, it paid heavy price. It was a mistake to ignore important parties for mediation. In this story the central character involved too many parties without understanding their role and importance. It is to be understood therefore, too many parties can complicate the mediation unnecessarily.
The success lies in maintaining fine balance between “Tree, the Hero” and “Happy Birthday”