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Any social gathering, be it a wedding, a party or even a small family get together has a dangerous tendency to turn into a buzzing hive of gossip as long as there are enough people and delicious food to fuel stray sparks caused by snide remarks and incessantly wagging tongues that seem to have snapped free from the wiring that links them to the brain respectively. These meetings are the perfect times for people to catch up on each other’s lives, being “busy” at all other times. So it is quite natural that questions that prod, pry and probe into others’ lives are shot off at random, amidst the zillion interactions that happen over food and drink.
What I find absolutely amusing, is the ability of people to spice up even mono syllable answers and comments of others into emotional epics of melodrama and serve it to others. For example, a “well-wisher” asked me if I was pregnant, to which I answered in the negative. News spread that we as a couple had decided not to have kids and soon every other person in the crowd wanted my mother to “speak to me (and my generation of selfish youngsters)” to throw light on the folly of our decision. Talk about (bungee) jumping into conclusions!
At another function, someone passed a “well meaning” remark that my husband and I were saving money by eating less (both of us happen to be thin). Some others went to the extent of judging my culinary skills. Such remarks filled with malice defeat the whole purpose of getting together. Instead of going home with pleasant memories, one is often left wondering whether theses forced relations hold any meaning at all. Why make an attempt to keep in touch with people who eagerly try to bring you down all the time, no matter what you do or say?
Once, during a wedding someone went on and on in loudspeaker mode about how ugly the bride looked. I could only pray that she hadn't heard those rude words, for doesn't everyone want to think they look nice on their wedding? If only it is possible to press “mute” when some people talk! Now when I think of it, more instances surface to my memory. People commenting on the colour of your skin, your attire, your diet, your lifestyle choices, career (or the lack of it), how you choose to celebrate, where you go on a holiday, how you spend your wealth and so many other matters which I think are too personal to be dissected in public. People have their opinions, I know. But why air them all unnecessarily? Why is there a deliberate lack of connect between the tongue and the brain?
Of course, one way out is to shut these people out by giving them and their comments a cold shoulder. Sometimes it is not that easy, especially if the person is a close relative. Some people are sensitive and can easily get hurt by these bullets from mindless mouths. I don’t mean to say that we should be hypocrites and shower praise without meaning a word of it. But if we don’t have anything nice to say, isn't it better that we keep quiet. That’s what I do. Remembering the words of Mark Twain: If you have nothing to say, say nothing. How true- if you don’t have anything nice to say, golden is the colour of your silence.