Apparently, using the watch, the Green Lantern can do pretty much anything. Which is really cool because the super heroes I used to know had certain definite types of skills – like flying, super-strength to bash up the bad guys or to stop trains, thought-reading, crawling up walls, swinging from spider webs, manoeuvring a flying car, and so on. These days a watch is enough for all this and more.
Anyway, a few years ago when I was asked this question (in a public forum, no less), I said, “I guess I would like to be invisible.” Clearly an answer that was delivered with no thought behind it. I assumed that if I gave some answer then they will move on. They didn’t. “Everyone wants to be invisible,” they said. And within a few minutes, my “dream” super power was reduced to a creepy idea that I wanted to be invisible so as to overhear what others are saying, see what they are doing and so forth.
Actually the answer is (then as well as today) that I don’t want any super power. Think about it. I am a Mom who loves her tea and writing and books and movies, and who needs to hug her son and listen to his tales and yell at him everyday. I don’t want to be out in the sun with my very own super strength to bash up bad guys. (Though, I must admit, a little Taekwondo training for self-defense is a good idea these days; just in case.) No crawling up the walls, no flying cars, and I definitely don’t want to be overwhelmed with everyone else’s thoughts in my head, à la Superman.
I would like to vanish into thin air only when I have royally embarrassed myself in front of someone.
I would also like to erase some memories from some people’s heads while I am at it.
I certainly don’t fancy flying over Bengaluru with my hands outstretched and my cape flying behind me, just because I am stuck in the traffic jam and there is somewhere I need to be. Or swinging from one building to another over the heads of people. (I won’t mention the outrageous costumes here.)
I suppose it would be politically correct to say that if I had some super power (i) I would try to bring all the criminals in the world to justice and (ii) I will fight for global peace and (iii) I will try to reduce global warming and close the ozone hole with my very own fingers, and (iv) I will put an end to poverty and suffering and illnesses, but if we really think about it, even the known superheroes have been able to do nothing much about poverty or illness. (Most of them haven’t even seen real poverty or suffering, as far as I can tell; they being generally confined to the other side of the globe.) Besides, if all the human evil in the world was eliminated, what would organizations like Human Rights Watch do? Heck, what would the superheroes themselves do? See the massive lay-off looming in the horizon that will bring in more problems, more unemployment, more poverty, more starvation? (Oh, how in the world can a poor superhero rest in peace!)
Putting all those powers (and jokes) aside, let us look at what we dream of every day. Yes, there are certain things that we all wish would happen to us. Put a thought in someone’s mind (someone who is influential enough) to show us a bit of kindness. Push our file / email to the top of some important person’s inbox at the right time. Allow a critical someone to accidentally see our work. And if we are less talented, make them think highly of us for no reason. Ever heard of Bruce Almighty?
We might like to call it a miracle – such a coincidence! – that we were noticed by The Someone. We would narrate it to everyone – she saw it just by accident! I was so surprised when he called! I had no idea my work was this brilliant! Oh, I am so darn lucky.
But deep inside, we would know. It’s called cheating. Maybe it will be smooth sailing for a while. But then we would need more such miracles if we are to keep up the show. Do we really want that? Think Bruce Almighty again.
Mothers are usually known for juggling too many things and trying to be SuperMoms, and for feeling guilty despite everything. We would certainly appreciate it if Superman could go get the groceries or look after the baby or do the chores while we rest our backs, but I’m afraid he might consider those tasks beneath him. We merely need some human support (sometimes as little as a kind word!). Or some magic wand that erases the misplaced feeling of guilt.
So the answer is that there is no real super power that can really help me the way I want to be helped. When a person is given a superpower, he is not expected to use it on himself (think Bruce) but to help others. How selfish of me to think only of myself.
Maybe this can’t be called ‘super’, but I would really like to have a power that helps me with my son’s studies. I mean, it was one thing to pass my own exams, but now half a lifetime later to be confronted with the same old questions? I could really use some super-human help to keep me from going insane, as I struggle to first understand the stuff myself and then explain to him.
What? That kind of super power is not in the market these days? That’s a pity. A real pity.
I guess I will have to tackle life as it is, then.