Let’s Get Talking: Part 2
I let my gaze linger at him in a very decided fashion until he noticed that he was the subject of my fascination. Ten minutes down the staring contest, he smoothly pointed towards a not so crowded part of the café, for me to meet him there. Fair enough, he was alone while I was in a group, it made sense that I should meet him halfway. I excused myself to use the ladies’ room and made my way to the section with a giant red horse. Introductions were made and after having exchanged the details of what either of us does for a living, he went quiet for a minute and then said, “I’m not sure if I should ask this… But since I always speak my mind, I’m going to ask anyway.”
Guy was in the business of fashion, more specifically buying and supplying apparel and accessories to the European markets. In the five minutes of conversation so far he had only spoken about his work, that too in non-specifics. He went on, “I have a show in Amsterdam and we’re doing a catalogue photo-shoot over the coming weekend. My friend who usually models for us is currently out of town.”
He paused, seemingly indefinitely. So I had to ask, “And?”
“I don’t think this is appropriate.”
At no point in this conversation so far had I been curious. It had all been so painfully obvious, his pauses, the ‘I’m not sure if I should asks’, the ostensible cliffhangers. I’ve never understood why people can’t be more original than trying to pique curiosity by the rugged-by-overuse phrase, “I’m not sure if I should say this…” If you weren’t sure, you could’ve just saved me the trouble of acting like what you’re about to say interests me by not saying anything at all. But I had to go through the motions; it’s only polite. So I replied, “Since you’ve already started, you might as well ask whatever it is that you want to ask.”
“I was wondering if you’d model for us.”
I’m surprised at how easily my heart breaks, each time, every time. I thought that Guy was interested in getting to know me. But his words so far, even though they were perfectly articulated, sounded perfectly rehearsed for getting something specific out of the interaction.
“I’m not a model,” I said, flatly and then added, “besides, we don’t know each other, at all.”
“I know you’re not a model but you meet the criteria,” he reverted. “This is why I didn’t want to ask,” he added, looking disappointed.
The potency with which language wields an influence in the lives of those who have learnt to read beneath and in-between what’s said is remarkable. It’s curious how it makes its presence felt both when it’s used badly and when it’s used cleverly. It’s exciting how much it says about the position, the power, the intellect, and the intent of the person who is using it. For instance, the words of the prominent world leaders following the massacre in Nice were telling. While Obama chose to emphasize on the feelings of solidarity and the strength of spirit of the French people by saying, “On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world”, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thought it was a fitting occasion to play sufferer and said, “Being the front-line state in the war against terror, Pakistan itself has suffered immensely and has seen a series of tragedies.”
All said and done, I’ve experienced that language has the power to say so much more than what is said, in every sphere of life. Enough had been said for the night. I took Guy’s leave, telling him that my friends were waiting for me. Victorious, even if a little disenchanted, in the secret war of words, I danced my way through the uproarious crowd. The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down played loud as the night was just starting to grow old.
Aakanksha Tomar is a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Delhi. As far back as she can remember, reading and writing have held a special place in her heart. She is trilingual, with a fourth language somewhere on the way. She can frequently be found in a café with a cup of coffee and a great book.