I was returning home from office the other day when I met this old friend. It had been some years the last time I had seen him and we got into talking. We spoke of our work and how we have been doing. More than the work or the technologies we were working on, what actually caught my attention was the shirt he was wearing. It was a neatly pressed white full sleeve shirt, but, very clearly one size less. Maybe he had put on a lot of weight after he had bought that shirt. Having known him since my engineering days, I took liberty and asked him why he was wearing that snugly fitting shirt. He put a faint smile looking at his shirt and said “this is my lucky shirt. Everything I do wearing this shirt has been a success”. Seems he was looking for a different job and had been for an interview earlier that day.
Having known him from my engineering days, I do not think he has to depend on his “lucky” shirt to get through the interview; still, fair enough. Many of us treat some things as lucky and treasure them. It can be a watch, pen, an earring, a currency note, shirt, trouser, belt; pretty much anything that we had, or worn when something worked fine the first time. From then on it becomes a habit and slowly turns into a “religious” belief. I do not clearly remember but I think even I had a lucky pen or shirt or something during my high school and college days. I do not have any now, or at least for the moment I do not believe in any lucky things.
I wished my friend luck and started back home still thinking about these “lucky” things. Though these things start with an individual, it can slowly influence and draw more people into it. Take the example of gifting green colored sarees to ladies in one of the south Indian state some years back. They say it started as a word of mouth that every brother should gift a green colored saree to his sister and the sister should wear it on a particular day of the week, to ward off evil. Slowly it turned into a huge saree gifting event across the region with men gifting sarees to every lady they knew. Shops carried different shades of green colored sarees and made a killing sale during that time.
Once home, I told my wife and my parents about my friend and his lucky shirt. I know my father doesn't believe in these things and he did not say anything. But both my wife and my mother told about things which they believed brought them luck while they were in school. I asked them if they still believed in these things and both said though they don’t have any lucky things they will still not write off if they found something brought them luck. Now my mother has a major in Science and Mathematics and my wife has done her Master’s in Business administration. Yet, both still feel there can be things which actually can be lucky even though there is no rational explanation to this.
My wife gave a very beautiful answer to this question. She said, if carrying a particular pen has always helped her clear her exams in college, why should she risk not carrying the pen? Even if she doesn't believe that a pen brought her luck, she will still take the pen to the exam rather than not take it, fail in the exam and lose a year.
Now that is an excellent point. Why take risk? What are you trying to prove? That a nonsense is a nonsense?
~Narendra V Joshi