It’s 6:30 am… a groggy me opens the door for my overly decked up maid, aka “chamak challo”. Hair ruffled, night suit crumpled, eyes swollen, I look like a “bell bajao” victim, while she walks in with a gait and attire fit for a marriage party. I have often wondered how she manages to dress up each morning at an unearthly hour and come to work; I have also often resisted myself from asking her whether she goes to sleep that particular way! Aah well but that’s not important now!

She walks in and announces that she’s quit work in two houses in the building. She rattles about how ill treated she was in their place, how she was served spoilt food, how she was paid peanuts …. And other rattles which I chose to ignore as I brewed my cup of morning coffee. She looked at me for comfort, for a clicking of the tongue; she even showered praises on me to get that… but “Didi aap jaisa sab koi hota… “didn’t particularly make my chest swell with pride for I knew the other side of the story. One of people she was bitching about was an acquaintance whom I had met in the lift only yesterday, when she had briefed me about the entire fiasco which this particular “chamak challo” had created at her house, owing to which she was sacked. But ya, I did turn to her and stare at her face for time enough to make her feel as if I was grasping each praise she was showering on me.

As she went about her work, I sat down to put my words together. I wonder why each time even when we are wrong or at the receiving end, instead of admitting that before the world, we try to portray a complete opposite scene? I see a co-worker of mine handed over a pink slip, after two months I bump into him in a party only to overhear how he left the job because he was bored, despite his boss ready to revise his pay package to make him stay. I was shocked then, but to look back it’s normal.

Somewhere the urge to come out strong, the urge to show that the decision taken was completely our own, that the stand taken was ours makes me look up in awe at Sigmund Freud and his analysis of the the organised realistic part of the psyche known as the “ego”.

Frued wrote in his book that Ego comprises that organised part of the personality structure that includes defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions and helps us to organise our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us. In modern English, ego has many meanings. It could mean one’s self-esteem, an inflated sense of self-worth, or in philosophical terms, one’s self. However, according to Freud, the ego is the part of the mind that contains the consciousness. Originally, Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality-testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory.

It is this consciouness about the social image that makes us put on a glorified defense where we shall be seen as the decision takers rather than as individuals who are bowing down before others.

It was perhaps David Meyers, who describes this situation as best, by explaining the strong urge in the human mind to appear as “decision takers” rather than “decision acceptors” that the ego strives to convert all situations into a win-win one. He says that the ego is personified, it is like a slave to three harsh masters: the id, the super-ego, and the external world. It has to do its best to suit all three, thus is constantly feeling hemmed by the danger of causing discontent on two other sides. It is said, however, that the ego seems to be more loyal to the id, preferring to gloss over the finer details of reality to minimize conflicts while pretending to have a regard for reality. But the super-ego is constantly watching every one of the ego’s moves and punishes it with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inferiority. To overcome this the ego employs defense mechanisms.The defense mechanisms are not done so directly or consciously. They lessen the tension by covering up our impulses that are threatening.

That is why perhaps even today when we call off a relationship, an engaement or a marriage, before we express our anxiety or repentence on the mis-happening we try to squeeze in the basic knowledge that “we have called it off”, lest the world thinks that we are capable of being rejected!

In the war of the egos, the only one who is tainted is perhaps the “truth”, but then again I feel it has learnt to accept its twisted fate.

P.S: Thanks to Wikipedia for the Freud inputs.