It was a few days after the results of the Annual Examination of the school were declared. A mother stood wiping her tears silently at a corner of the room of the Headmistress. Her son had failed to pass Grade V, the second time. As she wiped her tears, she lamented how her children could be so (her elder daughter had to leave school a few years back when she was unable to clear Grade IX). She was not so much worried for their academic performance, as she was for their behavior. To second the list of complaints that the teachers had against her son, she shared how badly her son of 11 years behaved at home. She said that they were God-fearing parents who could never think of behaving rudely or causing harm to anybody and that they had so many expectations from their children (the parents were not much educated and belonged to the Economically Weaker Section of the society). But, it all seemed in vain now!

A young woman of 28 years – having all the rights to take the decisions of her life by virtue of being a sane adult – in love for twelve years with a person from the same religion, but belonging to another caste (a great Indian social set-up that one is born into and can get out only when one dies – that is the belief among those who denounce the caste system, but are unable to do much about it) – expected her parents to forget the societal boundaries and give their consent for the marriage because of their love for her – had her dreams crushed only to realize that for her parents societal prestige is much more important than parental love. As she faces the possibility of being forcibly married off and her beloved’s family being killed, all she says repeatedly in between sobs is that, “How stupid was I to expect that my parents would love their child over and above every other thing!”

A young couple was eagerly expecting the birth of their first child. The mother-to-be was admitted to the village hospital on an emergency basis days before the date given by the gynecologist. Her husband was away at work in the town and couldn’t reach to be by his wife’s side at the time of delivery. A healthy baby boy was born. Photos were clicked and sent to the beaming new father. By evening, the baby’s health deteriorated and he breathed his last before seeing a new day (owing to medical negligence). By the time the father reached, the baby was already cremated. He could not even hold his first-born in his arms! The couple’s expectations were brutally crushed.

Well then, who is to blame – the people who expect or those who throw cold water on the expectations of others?

To expect is human. We can’t live and thrive in the world without expecting things off others. The level and intensity of expectations may be small or big – but none can deny having expectations. It’s only robotic not to have expectations! Our desires, thoughts, dreams, situations, people – the very way we are made – cause us to expect.

Can we control our expectations? Controlling expectations would mean killing them. While we cannot kill the expectations within us, we can sure do two things well. One, control our over-expectations. When we expect things, it is wise to bear in mind that others are not infallible. Each person or situation has its limitations. Hence, keeping expectations tied low to the ground would save many a heartache. Two, try our best to fulfill the expectations of others. It hurts to have an expectation overlooked and unmet. The same applies to others too when we are at the giving end. To ensure that we cater to the expectations of others to the best of our abilities is the least we can do for them.

In moments of solitude and introspection, so many times we would have shaken our heads chiding ourselves for the folly of our expectations. Some indeed would have been foolish because either they were unrealistic or mere over-expectations. But, some would sure have been sincere expectations which were left unmet – the joys of marital bliss, satisfaction at job, success in exams, the blessing of a child, healing for self or loved ones, and so on.

Reasoning, logic and explanations would simply be placebos. The truth is that we can’t really fathom why certain expectations were left unfulfilled. But, the only consolation is that even these unfulfilled expectations are not hidden from the God who has created you and me. He chooses to draw closer to us and gain glory even through these phases of dejections.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”