My friend Sunil suffers from what some people call `obsessive, compulsive disorder`. You may call him fastidious and finicky. But he considers himself to be a perfectionist. He cannot stand disorder at home or in the office. He is paranoid about ensuring that everything is in the right place. You can see him constantly arranging & re-arranging things in his office . His table will be always spic & span. At home he will ensure that every piece of furniture and artifact on display is in its rightful place. He cannot a stand even a speck of dust on any of the objects - you will find him with a small duster with which he will be constantly cleaning the objects on display. Very often visitors to his home or office will find themselves in embarrassing situations.
If any guest picks up a paper weight on his table and starts fiddling with it , you can see him becoming tense. He will not hesitate to snatch the paper weight from the visitor and put it back in place. He will be horrified if the guest starts moving around the office to pick up anything without his permission.
I was at his home one Sunday evening. A friend of his dropped in with his three year old son in tow. Obviously Sunil was not expecting them. The moment he saw the mischievous looking boy he became anxious. When the boy ran to pick up something that caught his imagination from a table nearby, Sunil became edgy. He rushed to the boy and gently removed the object from his hand and replaced it in its rightful place. When the boy started running around the house Sunil became panicky . He started screaming at the boy. `Don`t run.. you will knock that vase down… please don`t touch that… you will break that glass`. He was restless. He pleaded with the boy`s father to keep his son under control. The boy`s father and I were speechless at Sunil`s behavior. We could not have any conversation with him as his attention was totally focused on the boy. Realising the stress that he was causing to Sunil, the father of the boy dragged his son and left the house without even bidding goodbye. Instead of feeling guilty I was surprised to see the sense of relief on Sunil`s face.
My father was also fastidious in his own ways. He had earmarked his dinner plate, drinking glass which he would store in a particular place in the kitchen to be accessed only by him. If his children or grand children inadvertently picked up his plate or glass, he would flare up. It was customary for him to wash the dinner plate & the drinking glass several times before they were used- even if they had already been washed before being placed on the dining table. Anyone who tried to disturb his carefully stacked unread books and magazines on his table would have hell to pay.
I am sure all of us have come across people with some quirk or the other. While many of them can be categorised under the harmless category those who are too fastidious tend to hurt people easily with their nit picking ways.
Published in the Adyar Times issue dt. 14th-20th May,2017 under my column `Rajan`s random reflections`