“Problem” is such a loose and common word that even an illiterate uses it off and on. But, problem is not always a problem, most of the times, it is a perceived one. While genuine problems have solutions, perceived problems do not have any. In our day to day life, we have been encountering a number of problems and also, finding out plausible solutions. However, if any problem persists for a long time, it becomes a chronic one and in absence of a pragmatic view / approach, such a problem transforms into a ‘Perceived’ problem. As already told, perceived problem does not have any solution and as a result, it affects not only the person(s) having such problem but others also who are associated with the former. Let me now explain this with the help of an example / a story based on my real life experience.
This pertains to my In-Law’s house and my experience goes back to the year 1987. The place was Pakur in Bihar (Now in Jharkhand). The problem was scarcity of water. There was no water supply in or around the house, a rented one. From day 1, I experienced the acute water crisis in that house. Only source of water to that house was a well in a neighbouring house. I had two unmarried brothers–in-law and one sister-in-law. I saw them grappling with the problem of water. In the morning, only one word was heard on a regular basis, ‘water, water,water,…’. They used to start their day before sun rise and as a matter of routine, used to bring water from the well. I also found my wife to participate with them as she was also habituated to that activity. Seeing the plight of youngsters, I also tried to help them in their work but in vain as my elders did not allow it to happen. The main point of consideration was that I was a ‘damad’ i.e., son-in-law. It needs no elaboration that I used to feel bad whenever I used to consume water for my daily chore. We visited a number of times to that house as per social and family requirements and every time, experienced the same situation of water crisis. No doubt, the problem was serious and real. As such, it had the solution, albeit with hard labour.
Time passed away in its own way. Incidentally, my father-in-law who used to work in State Bank of India in Pakur, retired from service and the family got relocated to Bolpur Shantiniketan in West Bengal in the year 1996. The house was owned by him and the source of water was a dug well in the campus. So, apparently there was no question of carrying water from outside though water can be collected from the well manually by using a bucket and rope. When we visited the house for the first time, I expected lot of changes vis a vis Pakur residence. Changes were visible in a number of areas but what really surprised me was that the anxiety level remained the same as regards storing of water, even though the source of water was in the campus and water was available 24X7, albeit with a little effort. However, I had no occasion to feel guilty as I was drawing water from the well according to my need. Observing the prevailing situation for 1/2 days, I was forced to think of the saying “Old habits die hard.” I also started thinking, “Now when there is no problem of water why the family cannot overcome this issue from mind. What does it call? etc.” Anyway, with that thought, we left the place after three days.
Time continued to pass as usual. After almost 2 years, myself along with my wife and two children went to Bolpur to spend 2 days with them. Things were perfectly well. However, as my subject of discussion was problem / perceived problem relating to provision of water at my in law’s residence, I shall confine myself to the same only. It will be pertinent to mention that there was some development in that area. A pump was fitted to the well to lift water to the storage tank on the terrace of the building. So, there was absolutely no problem of water and I was expecting not to hear that particular word, ‘water’ in the morning. Despite that, I remained alert in the morning and you believe it or not, I found my mother-in-law to tell someone to start the pump and fill the tank with water. She was afraid of power cut even though the manual process of lifting water was still in vogue. Again, that left me with the same thought i.e., while problem had gone, perceived problem still persisted.
Over the time, lot of changes had happened and time had passed in its own pace. We were in Mumbai at that time. We came to our native place as well as our in law’s house for a week. Going by the title of this Blog, I would like to stick to the issue of perceived problem. When we reached my in law’s house, I found certain very tangible improvements towards provision of water at the house. Apart from the existing facility, provision for water supply from Public Health Engineering Department was made available. It used to supply water three times during the day – morning, noon and afternoon. Even after using water at the time of supply, some water used to get stored in another tank. In all, what was once a huge problem, now found an easy and adequate solution. Accordingly, I was absolutely sure that I won’t be able to hear that very fondly word, ‘water’ in the morning. But, alas! It was not so. Around 6.30 a.m. i.e., when the supply of water starts, I heard my mother–in–law telling someone, water had come. So, please store it in the empty buckets as otherwise we had to face the problem of water during bath. Instantly, it occurred to me that my mother–in–law had been suffering from perceived problem as the real one ceased to haunt her long ago.
The above will certainly help the readers to understand the difference between ‘problem’ and ‘perceived problem’. However, my intention is to tell the readers that they should not suffer from any perceived problem instead they must face the real problems as and when encountered.