On a recent day we were at a popular electronic store to drop off some old electronics that had to be safely disposed or recycled. As the husband went about the task, the children and I hovered about the store checking out gadgets that we had no intention of buying.
It was about then that my curious daughter happened to eye a family buying a Fitbit for their son. This was quickly pointed out to her brother and after a hushed exchange, she came to me and asked, “Why does that kid get to buy a smartwatch and not us, is it because they are rich and we are not?”
Her question caught me off guard. Trying to keep my expression guarded, I peered at my first born who was trying hard not to look my way, pretending not to know that I had figured that he had dared her to ask me this question.
With time at hand and little to do, I decided it was best to take the philosophical route as I explained just loud enough for my son’s ears to hear and slowly for Little Princess to understand.
If someone has a Fitbit to tell the time, their blood pressure and heartrate, then they own a smartwatch. But if you use your time wisely, have enough time to exercise and keep fit to have a healthy body that has stood strong during these COVID times and more importantly a healthy mind that has withstood the test of these times, then you are rich.
If you have a box-full of toys and a room-full of cool electronics, you are a cool kid who have enough to keep you occupied. But if you have a mom and dad who love you dearly, you are rich. If your parents love each other enough to tease one another, laugh and still respect one other and together you all make one happy family, you are richer.
By now I had two pair of eyes and ears tuned my way.
If you often enjoy the best meals at fancy restaurants and have never known what it is to go to bed hungry, you are well off. If you have a family with whom you enjoy at least one meal every day, sharing your thoughts, the day’s events and laughs across the table over a simple but hearty home-cooked meal, you are rich.
You are richer
If you live in a big house with a stunning view, you are rich. If you have a family that makes your house a home and friends in the neighbourhood, you are richer.
If you have been able to live your life, travel as normally, comfortably and healthily as one possibly can during these uncertain times, you are both lucky and rich. If you have been able to afford a travel to visit your family back home, spent time with grandparents, uncles, aunts and still got back in time, healthy and fit to attend school and work, you are richer and the luckiest.
If you have five hundred friends on social media who ‘like’ your post, you are active on social media. If you have even a couple of friends who call or message to inquire if you are OK if they don’t see your posts, are willing to give a helping hand or their precious time to lend a listening ear, even from afar, when you need one, you are definitely rich.
I looked their way and asked them, “So, what do you think?”
Little Princess having understood most of what I said looked her brother’s way and said, “I think we are a little rich,” as my son was quick to agree when she continued in a loud whisper, “But then you were right, we are not going to get a smartwatch.”
I had managed to drive home the message. For now.
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha