Thursday, September 12, 2013

Healthy Talk

What happened to the writer who fell short of words? Well, they just got written off. That's for the cursory fling with blank spaces. Do people ever fall short of words in their everyday communication? Barring an awkward situation or two, people generally like to babble. It's a communicable disease the world over, the only known antidote being a stifled yawn and a vacant expression in the listener's eyes. But the antidote actually works only on smart -talkers who keep a keen eye out for their listener's responses. For others, it is a flash-flood of thoughts that generally tends to sweep away the innocent and the unprepared. The very concept of gossip emerges from the urge to talk even when there's nothing to talk about. And willing, cooperative listeners make the activity organically productive.

As a child, I was quite a motor-mouth. Verbal diarrhea may just as well be a polite euphemism for my jowl-movement. The only complaint (I'd like to highlight 'only' but being the modest gabber that I am, won't do so) that my teachers ever had on PTM days was that I was a compulsive chatter-box. It was difficult to put a lid on my expression, with little or no reaction-time for my audience. I'd say audience because as a child, even a groan about the humble tiffin-box packed by a sleepy mother at 5:30 in the morning, holds the possibility of advanced physical theatre. I guess that's the reason why children hold us in rapt attention even when they are sleeping because there's language oozing out of closed eye-lids with rolling eyes beneath, snoring nostrils and twitching of fingers. Anyway, back to the point. Teachers, in our times, had the special ability of dousing a good spark if they saw one. One was encouraged to aspire more towards receiving stars on the personality chart for being quiet for twenty minutes, than for learning to talk one's way out of a sticky situation.  Parents, being parents, would never forget to remind me to cap it.
Initially, only in the house and later, when it became embarrassing for everyone to be around a girl who is verbose and uninhibited, at social gatherings too. Consequently, the eloquence found its way to the debating platform. I could argue and declaim without giving a sorry a** to anybody's reaction. Fortunately, that attitude worked wonders. Invariably, the winning trophy would be mine. Unfortunately, it was a disaster in the real world where the driving word for communication is 'diplomacy'. And then slowly, that slogan in the library unfurled its meaning to me. Silence is golden. Better still, silence keeps you alive and loved. Free thought and free speech belong to the land of books alone. Thus came new learning: 

Talk if you must, 
but only just, 
to please or appease
and certainly not,
to flare or combust.
And if silence means,
to hold your beans,
then let 'em rot,
but air your bags out first.

The gift of the gab often landed me among people who wanted to use my free speech to kick up a free storm. Politics beckoned where action need not match words and my words were pricelessly persuasive. However, it is ironical that a field where free speech is the goon, diplomacy of inaction is the king-of-the-ring. And never the twain shall meet.

Anyhow, the point is that, thanks to well-meaning teachers and parents, talking became more of an internal activity than a mode of communication with the world outside. And when that internal chatter becomes incessant, it becomes de-rigueur to write. The world called it upon itself. It's not my fault anymore. It may have been easier to hear and bear than be dead as you read.

Therefore, world, do not rejoice when you find me silent. Prepare, instead, for the print-sprint.

Parents, let that kid talk. If you can’t make sense of the non-stop questions, observations and remarks, then perhaps you’re the ones who need to air out those bags (lungs, incase, you didn’t understand earlier). And teachers, you’re paid to speak, aren’t you? Go eat your words. It's all healthy talk after all.

Cheers and burritos!

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