The Things People Say
My friends and neighbours are wonderful people. But the most amazing thing about them is the way they provide moral support and understanding when something goes wrong. Their language on its part, conveys in full measure, all that they intend ( and don’t intend) to say. It isn’t the fault of the speaker or the language—Oh no! It’s just that they’ve been saying the same things for so long that they’re absolutely unaware of the shocking meanings or messages their well-intentioned words often impart.
For instance, take the day my son met with an accident and broke his left arm and had to undergo surgery. I heard things like...
“That’s good, it could have been worse.”
“Oh it’s the left hand, then it’s fine. If it were the right it would have been bad.”
I’m not sure what this person meant when he said,” Chalo bahut achcha hai. Now he will become a man.” ( come on it’s very good. Now he will........)
Of course I know they all meant well. There’s never been any doubt about that!
Then there were those well-wishers of mine who helped me through my post-operation days with gems like these.....
“Thank God it was only cervical cancer...”
“You’re so lucky, you have no more worries.” A rather short-sighted conclusion, I thought.
But the remarks that were truly bizarre were the ones spoken to comfort my sister who lost her son, a young Army officer. How does a bereaved mother react to....
“ It’s good you have two sons, one is left for you.”
“It’s good he died in action, now you’ll get a sizeable compensation.”
“It’s good he died before getting married....imagine how it would be....”
They were all friends and genuinely concerned, but they did not choose their words carefully, and came across as rather insensitive people.
I’m sure these are not isolated cases. Everywhere and all the time sympathy and empathy are conveyed in similar fashion. In an effort to encourage and pour out hope and comfort to the family people put not only a foot but both feet in their mouth. Call it faux pas or whatever you may, my friends will continue to flock around me in times of distress and need, with their support fortified with ill-placed words and phrases.
I’m not complaining. And I’m not expecting them to change because they just can’t. Their way of looking at things and expressing their grief may not be my way. They think they are being “positive” and would be hurt if any one even suggested that they were insensitive. They bring me loads of comfort wrapped in mis-placed vocabulary.......but who cares if their words aren’t in place when their hearts are!