You must speak up

I was in Class VIII then: in my hostel. One sunny afternoon in winter, our chief hostel warden and the warden summoned about 5-6 students to the dormitory roof, apparently for a little 'chat' with all of us. I was there on the list, and somehow the conversation drifted to which students were 'goody-goody' nincompoops who could only study and were otherwise butter-fingered monkeys, etc --- a pithy expression for whom in Bengali is 'Nadu Gopal'. There was some fun being thrown around: why someone does qualify and someone doesn't, who is a Nadu Gopal, and such. Suddenly, the Chief Warden asked, "So, who do you think among you here is the most suitable to be called 'Nadu-Gopal'?" There were some mealy-mouthed 'Yes', 'No'-s and then he asked me straight, "Sudipta, who do you think?". I took a look around, picked one fellow and pointed fingers at him and said, "That person: him!" Upon hearing my answer, the general silence that had engulfed us as soon as this question was asked disappeared into sudden mirth in the entire group. The said person didn't seem so happy about being pin-pointed, and the Warden was shaking his head in a silent grin. I thought it was funny, too, until at night the Warden summoned me to his room alone and told me, "You shouldn't answer questions like that".
"But YOU asked!!", was my reply.
"Yes, I know, we will ask such questions. But you must know what to answer and what not".

That moment, I'll say, redefined a lot of things for me. I used to inherently and implicitly trust all elders, used to respect their opinions and easily answer things to the best of my knowledge and belief. But somehow the fact that they too could trick you, lead you into false situations and have fun at your expense was a shock. Why, why couldn't life be straight? Why couldn't people speak directly what they meant? I don't think I'll ever understand that.

I guess this problem with me still persists. I really cannot feel what someone is missing or what he/she wants me to do: you have to tell me explicitly. Today I will never walk into a trap like that: there is some amount of cynicism that has crept into my psyche I guess. But I still am a person who asks once, and believes your answer. And I do give straight answers myself --- I love brutal honesty over implicit expectations that I cannot meet because I don't have a clue to what you really want. I remember when I came to this place about having a conversation on splitting the food budget with my room-mate: who pays for what, etc. He had told me that he had never had to have a conversation like that with his former room-mates: they sort of implicitly split it. I had to apologise, but I needed it straight. In fact, I think we get along well together now because we had had that conversation.

How good or bad this is I don't know. Sometimes I wish I had the power of intuition of my sister or my mother. But sometimes I think I am better off without it. I rarely guess about things --- and my guesses about what people are thinking usually turn out to be deadly accurate. But then: these moments of truth happen very rarely; I am very dumb most of the time regarding these things. I have to know what exactly you want, even if once, to interact easily with you. You must speak up.

Comments

  1. I kind of get mad at this kind of thing. "Social" behaviour places a lot of restraint on us and makes us pretend to be what we are not. Hypocrisy... bah. And the way we're expected to "know" all this...

    Implicit honesty is a rare thing and people do their best to discourage it. I don't care how they dress it up: it's still bad.

    I'm not saying go out of your way to be rude to people by being honest, but do not sacrifice honesty for the sake of being nice.

    That's why most people prefer not to say anything at all. I personally feel uncomfortable with lies of any kind myself.

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  2. My dad used to say, "think before you speak...and then don't speak."

    Truth or Dare might be a game for a lazy hostel afternoon, but it throws up a lot of questions about life and such...ah well.. my 2 cents. :) How've you been, Babu Moshai?

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  3. You couldn't have echoed my feelings better....

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  4. Hari, heh-heh, surely you're joking, Mr. Hari! :)

    You raise an important point here, though: one shouldn't go out of the way to be rude to be honest, but we must also know where to draw the line.

    Phatichar, hmm... that is a good saying from a man who knows what he speaks. I'm good: just these crazy exams are breathing down my neck!

    Raman, thank you! :) There must be something we share at least, wouldn't you say?

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  5. Most men I know like everything in white and black. Yes or no. Binary. No complications, no confusions. It's definitely a good way to deal with most people but then many a times its important to understand implicit things too. Everything cannot be spelt out, somethings are to be understood with intuition too, just my 2 cents :) BTW, finished your tag.

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  6. Being straightforward in opinion helps a lot to deal with people who can get on your nerves.But very few people have the sensibility to relate to why we may act in a frank way...that is to make our lives easier..and most end up taking you as impolite..so judging the person first and then reacting is the best thing to do.-Ms NMA

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  7. Life Lover, yeah well some things need to be understood implicitly. Thats maturity. But sometimes (or most of the times, I'd say) I prefer spitting things out than namby-pamby sweet-talking. Can't help it!

    And yes, I liked your post on my tag! Thanks :)

    Miss NMA, very true, ma'am. As Hari said above, I don't like to be honest to the point of being impolite unnecessarily. But sometimes: whoever it is, we need to talk out straight. Can't let myself be trampled upon for something I don't care about.

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  8. i guess some of us are meant to stumble through life. it does make it pretty interesting :D

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  9. When I left college, one of my classmates wrote in the autograph book that I was straight as an arrow. That is when I realized why people use the opposite word to that - crooked, to describe some people. Only much later in life did I realize how much of one's personality determines one's success (or rather the lack of it :-)). Hope you got the drift ;-).

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  10. Dee, welcome onboard! Yeah well life does get interesting with all the stumblings and all: but it is not for just some of us --- it is for everybody. Maybe some of us stumble a little more, thats all!

    Thennavan, I get the drift, yes :) But well, in whichever sense you mean, being straight and honest is something we or at least I treasure. ;)

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  11. I'd say we share many a thing.... only their different manifestations make different personalities. It's a difference of degree, not of kind, as Swamiji said, don't you think?

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  12. I completely disagree with u.Sometimes u r short of vocabulary while expressing ur deepest feelings...and it is at those times that silence speaks louder than words.The very very fast life that u have lead (i assume) has made u to believe in such brutal honesty.If u just take sometime and think backwards..may b u'l repent for many comments that u have made in the past.I feel words hurt more than arrows and u cant take them back once they r out.So if u just take some seconds to think b4 u speak...
    u must not confuse this with hypocracy...it is just that we r humans and not machines and sometimes even a harsh truth can be said in a better way so that it has the desired effect and not the undesired side effects :-)
    ps:no offences meant..just my way of thinking

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  13. Raman, yes... well said!

    Bristi, no offences taken, lady! But as I reflect back on my past life, I think I have remained silent more than I should have. Sometimes, yes, brutal honesty has been detrimental: perhaps I should've kept my trap shut then. But such occasions are much less in number than the times when I've been taken for granted.

    Besides, I guess my friendships with my guy pals has been defined on this straight-talking honesty. With girls, well, rarely have I had situations where brutal honesty was necessary. But if need be, I have been honest. Just my way of life, ma'am: can't help it!

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  14. Hi Sudipta,
    All the best for your exams:)

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  15. Bristi, hmmmm.... :)

    Manasa, thanks a lot! :)

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  16. i guess there is a fine line between brutal honesty and just avoiding hurting others..both are values close to my heart..But during the incident u were just a kid after all ..u werent supposed to know the difference.. :)

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  17. Di, hey, welcome! Thanks... it is a fine line indeed!

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