The chanciness of chances!

chanciness of the chances Loading

Why do we give people second chances? When I started this piece, it was more about, why do women give second chances (second represents multiplicity here) to their partners in relationships. And then, I realized that it is not just women. Men do too. Maybe not as many, but do, nonetheless.


And not just in romantic relationships. But life too.


It’s a cold winter morning out here in Bangalore. Maybe, I’m in a mood to be philosophical because of the weather. Or maybe, I have more yesterdays than tomorrows, so I’m chewing the cud.


Coming back to my poser, why do we give people second chances? The first time your maid dips into the wallet on the dresser, why not send her packing? More often than not, we blame ourselves that we left it on the dresser, and poor woman, we tempted her! Our way of addressing this issue typically is to lock up the wallet in the cupboard from then on. Not fire her.


Why? Ladies, I can almost hear all the excuses you are making. Oh, she makes sambar exactly the way my husband loves it. She is most punctual and never takes off without letting me know before hand. I have trained her so well, I don’t have the time to go through this whole process with another. She is clean, doesn’t talk back and does whatever I tell her, and more.


Yes, female Jeeves indeed except that she seems to be flighty fingered too. In your head, the good somehow outweighs the bad.


Except that this bad is so bad that it can debilitate your life. But we are so myopic that till it actually debilitates our life, we continue to give her chances.


Same story in relationships. You’re dating. And everything is going swimmingly. He then asks you, what does your day look like, tomorrow. So you tell him, tomorrow is my dad’s death anniversary. He grew up poor in a boy’s hostel, where he stayed from 5th standard till he completed IAS. Every anniversary, I arrange to feed all the boys who are staying at the same hostel. It is a gesture but it makes me happy because I think it makes him happy.


It’s a poignant story. Not easy to forget. Even if your date didn’t know that you thought the world of your dad, the story in itself has unraveled so many layers about you. So many sub stories.


  • That your dad was a self-made man.
  • That you come from a socially high value family.
  • That your family gives primacy to education.
  • That you cherish the values of diligence and performance because you were brought up on that diet.
  • That you looked up to your dad for these very same qualities.
  • That your way of celebrating his death anniversary was aligned to his values and his story.


I could go on and on. Plenty of narratives here. My point, even if your date was so lost in your physical charm, he could not possibly not have registered the significance of this story.


Next morning, he wakes up in his house. He makes some cheesy small talk on Whatsapp. You are somewhat clipped in your responses. And somewhere around nine, he says, so babes, what’s your plan for the day.


That’s when the ball dropped for you. Or at least should have dropped. This innocuous query is loaded with every possible warning sign. It is such a pathetic reflection of his character. Look at all the sub stories here, but the sum and substance of them all is simply this:


That you don’t matter.


You don’t need to be on a couch to figure this out. Yet, what do most of us do in similar situations?


We make excuses. Maybe he forgot. He didn’t sleep well last night, so was disoriented. He had a do-or-die meeting at work, so it slipped his mind. It’s too early days in the relationship, so may be the story didn’t register.


How about, may be he is a jerk?


And instead of lungfully yelling at him: skedaddle out of my life this very instant, you miserable insect!, you end up marrying him.


And spend the rest of your married life wondering why he changed after marriage!


He didn’t, darling. You were so hell bent on summit-ting your Everest that you missed all the avalanche signs, all along the way.


If not missed, misread at least.


So, back to my poser. What is it about human beings that makes us give second chances to others at our own peril?


More ruminations on this may be in my next column, but would love inputs from all of you, dear readers.




Nandini Vaidyanathan is the founder of Carma Connect ( which mentors entrepreneurs, teaches entrepreneurship in ivy league business schools across the world, writes on entrepreneurship (has written two best sellers), climbs and treks. She loves to live life on her terms, using her discretion and not someone else’s.

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