JournalismPakistan.com September 9, 2013
I have a rich friend…or I think I do. The friend bit, not the rich part. Very rich. He is bored. All rich people seem bored. Like what kick can you have in life if everything is coming your way?
You must be in the wrong lane.
Even his friendships are suspect. He thinks everyone loves him for his money. They wouldn’t like me half as much if I wasn’t loaded, he moans. This is true. But then he wouldn’t be same person so it all becomes academic, doesn’t it, your wealth and your style and your access are an integral part of you.
But he wants people to like him for himself. Been like that since he was 16 and used to get out of his chauffeur driven car at the gate and walk with the rest of us. Often, he’d hide the fact that his father was a millionaire (when we were kids they were not a dime a dozen, believe me) and once he deliberately broke his expensive watch just to be ‘included’ in the magic circle.
Hell being rich, isn’t it. And kids are funny. They let him into the group on a ‘suitable’ basis but he was never quite accepted. The rest of us sensed he was kind of different and the awe expressed itself in distance. He was poor at sports and the lack of athleticism made it hell for him.
Oh, we went to his parties and used his train set (a whole room full of tracks and engines and sceneries) and ate all the grub and played cops and robbers in his huge compound but we always shied off when it came to being a pal. If he was invited to parties it was because he brought nice gifts.
I guess he learnt young that he’d have to buy his way into every relationship or upstage the world to get noticed.
Tough, having all that money, isn’t it. By the time we got to college he’d become a lot more manipulative and he could suss out everyone’s price, especially those who turned into hangers on and he now had his own group. I am sure he was still very lonely but he wouldn’t ever admit that and the bought and paid for soldiers gave him enough visual confirmation of his self- worth.
After all, if he couldn’t do it, he could buy it. I remember he wanted to buy a basketball team or something equally inane and when he finally went into business, I believe he made even more money.
He never got married because the rich, for some other reason that I can’t quite explain, see women as objects rather than as partners. There must be exceptions I am sure, but the fascination with money saps all their energy and their affections, there is none left for any person. Besides, every woman who comes close wants the money, doesn’t she, so the defences come on up… I am not giving it to her, no way.
And then we slipped out of each other’s orbit and it was nearly 20 years later that I met him at a dinner while on a trip to India…just by chance. He was now about 27 times more pompous than he had ever been. He didn’t spot me so I listened to him shooting off about some inane subject with an authority that only echoes in those who are paying the bill and don’t worry what the figure is.
Finally, he caught my eye and this is the beauty of it…he deflated, literally squirmed and grinned sheepishly as if seeking approval.
For a moment we were back in school, he was as lonely and bewildered and hurt and wanting to be liked, wanting to be accepted for just being him, seeking peer approval, something so conspicuously beyond his wealth.
Then the façade fell back into place, the vulnerability was concealed and the rich bossman was shaking my hand and the act was on.
I was strangely moved by him, convinced that nothing had changed, he was still the kid ready to pay the bill if only you’d let him play.
Looking inside a man…never a very pleasant sight.
Me, I’d rather look at the wreck of my domestic budget and stick to the self- esteem. Because one thing is for sure…no one could possibly like me for my money. What money?
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
Daily Times, December 22, 2016
You know that time has done the dirty on you when you sound like your parents and their parents as you go about switching off lights and other sundry appliances and talking about money growing on trees.Read more... | Archives
A study conducted by JournalismPakistan.com and Communications Research Strategies on the economic situation of slain journalists' families and journalists displaced due to security threats.