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Life is full of misunderstandings with disastrous results. You only have to step back and listen to hear people talking to each other to realize that. At times it is so funny listening as a third person to a conversation where neither have spotted they are on totally different platforms to catch the same train. At times it is terribly sad, especially when they miss that all-important train, but still continue waiting at the wrong platform for the right train to come along. Only if you are a true listener do you get a chance to see, how most of the time people talk at cross-purposes to each other. Parents and children, husbands and wives, friends, acquaintances, strangers….. They all do it. Only the true listeners among them are capable of being discerning enough to ‘hear’ amidst the blabber.

There is an oft repeated joke about two women who were neighbors. Both of them were slightly deaf in their old age. In the old days the bathroom used to be separate from the main house in almost all the houses. One day, the first old woman, lets call her Narayani Amma, was ambling along the verandah, her hair duly oiled, incha in hand for that refreshing bath. Across the yard she espies the salt and pepper hair covered head of her close friend and confidante Saraswathi Amma, the second old woman. They smile warmly at each other and the following conversation ensues between them.

Saraswathi Amma: Narayani Amma kulikkaan povano?? (Are you going to have your bath??)

Narayani Amma: Alla, alla. Jnan kulikkaan povanu. (No, no. I am going to have my bath)

Saraswathi Amma: Ngaaa.. Jnaan vicharichu Narayani Amma kulikkaan povanennu. (ohhh, I thought you were going to go have your bath)

Oh yeah, we find it funny. Right?? Two old and women have given us reason to laugh by their inability to ‘hear’ what the other has said because of their physical disability. But…. how many of us, not deaf in the least enact the same scene in real life?? Over and over again?? It is not funny in the least, but heartbreaking and downright sad and demoralizing.

Languages, with the many words each contain, are means of communication. But many of us use those words not to communicate, but more to listen to our own voices speaking. All very well. We are ALL doing it. So what’s the problem any way?? There IS a problem for those among us who want to use language and the words there in to convey what they want to, not enjoy the sound of their own voice. Unfortunately, they are not heard or are misunderstood or disbelieved because of ears being used to listening to meaningless jabber. Words no longer register in brains as it should. The brains have been processing too much of hollow chatter.

In books and movies misunderstandings are sorted out towards the end and life goes on happily enough. But that is through the express effort and capabilities of the story/screen-play writer. There is no such person in real life to set things right. We are our own story/screen-play writers and write our own lines for ourselves. How can we avoid unnecessary misunderstandings unless we listen to hear (not our own voice) and also speak to be heard (not for the sake of impressing)??

Addendum

I wrote the above yesterday, ready to post it today. This morning, I found the message given below in my in-box and thought how fitting an example it is to prove my point, if it needed proving at all.

“…..But ironically, the Devil in the details (your profile) reveals that you are too CLOSE to Self Admiration. You are too Loud in your Profile……. Seems you have got yourself a nice new Trumpet….. It will do you a lot of Good if you TONE down your Laudation…….

Happy Writing…………”

This is not the first time I get such a response from strangers, to what I have written about myself. Of course there is no law against being loud or too CLOSE to self admiration. So I am entitled to be both if I so desire. So tchah to the fellow who sent it to me. But I do resent the unasked for advice on what would do me a lot of good. Oh really?? Says who?? What the poor souls such as him don’t realize is, though the words they read and comment on are mine, the meanings and intentions they attribute to it are all theirs. Period. So what does that say??!

Once a few years back, I had a face to face meeting with a fellow lady blogger, and she said to me,

“You are not cynical at all!”

Cynical and me??

“You come across as a hard person, making fun of others.”

Hard and me?? Wouldn’t be more like pulling their leg??! Ahem… its okay if you think otherwise.

“You are not like your online persona at all.”

And pray, what’s my online persona?? *mystified*

As far as I am concerned I have always been myself online or off it. I clown around; I write tongue in cheek blogs/status messages. Ohh yes, I am aware I come across as rude and pompous to many people (including my extended family). You know something?? It tickles me pink when that happens. If someone forms a picture of me in their own minds, which conflicts with who/what I really am, doesn’t it reveal what’s lacking in their powers of perception?? I wouldn’t for the life of me try and correct them. It entertains me immensely and makes me smile secretly to myself. It is also an easy way to know the wheat from the chaff.

To be fair to the lady concerned, and much to my amazement (coz I did not expect her to be as perceptive) and amusement, she wrote a totally accurate description of me post our face-to-face meeting. Of course I am not going to reveal what she said. Do I want to spoil the fun in getting such mails or hearing the Ohhs of surprise and confusion??