A couple of days back I came across a beautiful quote, ‘Life is like a fraction. The numerator is what you are and the denominator is what you think you are‘.

Immediately, a smile broke on my face. In a mental survey of the landscape, I spotted so many fractions with some large denominators. Somehow, many of us would see our bosses too in this category. Do you? Social media has significantly helped in increasing this population.

After having derived pleasure of putting these people with inflated egos in a cohort, my thoughts shifted to those where the fraction is greater than one. The numerator here is much larger than the denominator. What a pleasure to meet such people! Adjectives will pour out for them. Humble, down to Earth, approachable, stalwart, institution of a person, and so on. Though very few in number, it is immensely pleasurable to meet such persons. Meeting them brings about positive changes and at times it can be life changing. I am sure you would recall a few wonderful teachers from your school and college days falling in this category.

My train of thoughts went on. What about those fractions greater than one where persons are quite capable but have a low opinion about themselves? Maybe, some unfortunate circumstances or persons with smaller fractions around them have compelled them to recalibrate their denominator to a very low value. They have very low self-esteem and self-worth. Helping even one such person to increase the denominator would be such a fulfilling experience.

Is it always good to have a low denominator or a denominator lower than a numerator? What do we do with the kids or for that matter with older persons? We know their actual numerator but would boost their morale and make them feel that they have a big denominator. Give them a pep talk. Boost their morale. If a person with a low denominator actually starts believing in a big denominator then possibly her numerator can become equal to or exceed it. This is the power of motivation.

Then came the time for introspection. Where do I stand? Is it that while I was deriving sadistic pleasure of bracketing those with large denominators, I was also having a large denominator too? Is it even possible to assess your own fraction? Everyone would have a genuine belief that their numerator is equal if not more than the denominator. Perhaps that is why Kabir said – “Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye; Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye.” which means ‘Keep your critics close to you, let their hut be in your courtyard, that way you would not need soap and water to cleanse your nature’.

This is perhaps the right way to evaluate your own fraction.

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Sharad Saxena


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