Thursday, December 23, 2010

Soft-spoken versus Outspoken

I am a soft-spoken person. I don’t subscribe to the theory that a loud rasping voice and stern words can help you accomplish what you want. That might work many a time. Also a gentle voice might be mistaken by some as a sign of weakness but I do strongly believe that polished words will definitely fetch you respect.
I am also a person of few words – but only during tangential discussions or judgmental conversations. What I won’t be a part of is heartless gossips – as you know these are back-stabbing exercises where the targeted person doesn’t get a chance to defend himself / herself. Then would I take a person head-on? No way – I make a conscious effort not indulge in point-blank salvos. Even rare outbursts threatening to explode are redirected within as ‘inbursts’! How? By suppressing the urge to be tongue-in-cheek, by keeping my tongue in check, keeping guard while mouthing words and downing the shutters of my lips to prevent them from rashly jumping out. We are all aware that words once spilled can never be recalled – just like the paste once squeezed out cannot be put back in the tube.
I refrain from expressing my opinion unless specifically asked or genuinely sought. I have to admit that even in these days when advice and opinion are not welcome, there are some of my good friends who rely on me for support or approval. Of course I lend them a piece of my mind willingly and share my views. But not otherwise. There are chances that even suggestions made with the best of intentions on my part could be misinterpreted and given the wrong connotation. Rather than getting hurt at being misjudged, it’s wise to maintain one’s reserve or resort to diplomacy.
It doesn’t imply that I’m an introvert – no, far from that! I do fool around, indulge in light-hearted leg-pulling and share a good laugh at my expense – with company who share my wavelength – age no bar - and when the mood is chirpy.
I have this friend of mine – young enough to be my daughter – very outspoken, ready to call a spade a spade – not rudely but cloaked in humor, irony or sarcasm. In spite of our intimacy I still held on to my proverbial reserve to a certain degree even with her and never uttered what was best left unsaid. When she’d try to extract words from me I’d ask her to make her own inferences from my very expressive face or tone. But I did approve of her boldness, her genuine spirit and sincerity and forthrightness. May be I could and should try to be more transparent, more outspoken in my conversations. By nature I wouldn’t divulge my plans / intentions unless I have the complete blueprint ready in my mind at least – for fear that it might not take off or crash land – after all there is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip! What I now feel is that if it is shared with like-minded well-wishers, it can be implemented better with helpful inputs from them.
A simple incident has given birth to this change. This same young friend of mine had gone to Kolkata and returned with gifts for friends. She called me up first and informed me that she has set aside a nice sari for me. As an afterthought, she added, “Do you want a sari or dress material?” Actually I had too many saris and not as many dresses. Should I or should I not reveal my option? The prude in me tried to answer "Anything..."but my friend’s frankness rubbed on to me and suppressed it. I expressed my preference for dress material. She gave me a choice of colors to which I again went formal with, “Anything, dear, anything you like.” When she persisted, I relented and gave my choice. She felt good, I too felt good.
Then it was my turn. I went shopping to get her a sari for her birthday. Choosing a color she didn’t already have and which she would like – choosing by stepping into her shoes - was like squaring the circle. After pondering for long, I bought one and left the shop. Then I decided to call her, “Do you have a navy blue sari?” She didn’t expect this abrupt question. She asked me in turn, “Why, ma’m, do you want me to wear it for some occasion?” I spilled the entire truth. Then she said, “Ma’m, if you are really getting me a sari, get me a black one – been planning to buy one to wear for a get-together this weekend. If there is no problem…” “Of course not”, I replied and I walked back to the shop, and exchanged the sari for a black one – the job was a fuss-free matter. Of course if I hadn’t gifted her the black sari, she would have got one for herself – no big deal. But now both of us had satisfaction. So I once again realized that shedding my reserve and opening up with intimate / like-minded persons does indeed work well!
Now I also realize there is much more fun and mirth and intimacy if I disarm myself of ‘prim-and-proper’ prudery and reply to informal queries with gay abandon. Next time you ask me, “Kya piyoge?” I may not as usual reply, “Oh no, nothing.” I might surprise you with, “Coffee ho jaye, kyon?”
 © Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

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