Meeting people, talking to them, exchanging gossip about all possible things comes easily to most of us without trying hard. May be because it’s all routine where one doesn’t have to think too much before speaking. When a group of ladies meet they are mostly seen discussing their children, movies, TV serials, clothes and not to forget, recipes. Men are often seen talking about sports, politics and work related topics.. Women have a bad reputation of being very talkative but let me tell you that after sometime most women sit quietly waiting to get up and go home but the men don’t seem to stop talking. They talk tirelessly standing all the time. This is true about most fauji parties – ladies are sitting and officers are seen standing and talking. Even after 29 years of attending these parties regularly I fail to understand why they prefer standing throughout the party.
What I want to say is that when we don’t have to plan what to talk we can go on and on. But there are some occasions when even the most talkative people become tongue tied. At such times people are at a loss of words wondering what to say to the person in front. That moment, that silence is the most awkward for both the people.
When we hear that a friend or a known person has lost a dear one the first thought is to rush and meet the bereaved person to offer condolences. But I’ve often heard people confessing that they don’t know what to say in such situations. So, most people stand in silence watching the grief stricken person they’ve come to meet. I think people feel comfortable in giving a tight hug to the person which conveys everything better than words can. On a second thought I feel sometimes silence is better even if it is awkward because if there are people who don’t know what to say, there are also people who don’t stop once they open their mouth. I’ve seen some people talking so much about the dead person ( be it good things ) that it makes the person who is already grieving even more sad. No amount of good words or philosophy helps here.
Also, when somebody is in the hospital with some serious illness people come in large numbers to look them up. They come with good intention and definitely want to say a few encouraging words to keep the morale of the patient up. But sometimes on seeing the condition of the patient they get lost for words. Some months back my mother was in the hospital owing to a stroke who is recovering at home now. During that time I saw a number of people coming and just standing there, not knowing what to say. My mother would be looking at them but they would just stand awkwardly. Not able to bear the disgusting silence I used to start a conversation and saw that it made them feel better. But some people who didn’t have any problem conversing would keep asking so many questions as to how did it happen and what is the doctor saying, all major and minor details right in front of the patient. Insensitive people!
Third most awkward silence occurs when one has to indulge in formal conversations. Spontaneous conversation is always enjoyable but formal ones are not. There are always lull periods in such conversations which become embarrassing. Such things usually happen when one is stuck with a senior person (not age wise but otherwise) one is not familiar with.
The silence between a husband and wife after a fight or a harsh argument is the worst. It may be short lived or a little long one but totally unbearable. It’s irritating and both the parties wait for the other to break the gruelling silence, not wanting to do it themselves. So, one wants to talk but doesn’t, owing to ego problem or ‘why should be the one doing it always’ syndrome. Living under the same roof and not talking to each other is really difficult and the most awful thing to endure.
The art of conversation and the art of saying the right things at right time is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some people are born with the gift of gab and some are not. Silence, sometimes is more welcome than words uttered without any sense. At such times awkward silence also becomes the most solicited one. Don’t we all at some point or the other say, “Oh, why doesn’t she just shut up?’ about somebody who’s going on and on? Unwanted blabbering is worse than awkward silence.