Ruffled feathers

Factors like social etiquette, status, and situation can be obstacles to one's thoughts.

The question that bothered me constantly may not be as existential as that of Hamlet’s, nevertheless has nagged me effectively. What does a person do, when he or she knows something for a fact and finds people mouthing the contrary with confidence in public? I know that the simple and straightforward answer to this question is to correct the error/s. However, the process is not as uncomplicated as it appears to be. Factors like social etiquette, status, relationship, time, place and situation can prove to be obstacles for articulating one’s thoughts. It is certainly not a great idea to ruffle feathers of complacency, bruise the egos or jeopardise associations over trivia. On the other hand, donning a poker face on such occasions can cause considerable mental strain.

Since it is a Herculean task to opine without coming across as conceited, I learned the art of keeping my opinions to myself, unless it is sought for. Yet, I must confess that there have been occasions when I have spoken out of turn, much to the chagrin of others.

Once I happened to enter a hall where some people were discussing a poem animatedly. We acknowledged one another and they continued their dialogue on my pet subject. Their interpretation seemed to be off the mark. My latent antenna picked it up. I interjected unceremoniously with my eager elucidation. Stoic silences and stolid stares punctuated the place. Though the situation normalised subsequently, I was disturbed for a long time. 

This time around, I vowed to find an answer to my dilemma. The universe sent me a response through an authority on mythological paintings. I broached her with my prize question. She recounted an incident. Long ago, she had attended a talk on the Tibetan art, culture and cuisine. Soon after, they were shown a mural of a goddess and were told that it was Saraswathi. Our lady recognised it as goddess Manjushree.

 She gently whispered her finding to her husband. The suave, westernised fellow guests were put off by her temerity. The speaker, who patronisingly encouraged her to talk was embarrassed when she identified the painting correctly. An awkward silence prevailed till the crowd dispersed. Her knowledge landed her in a quandary.Then, she realised that it was not in her power to change the mindsets or responses of people during a short association. So she decided to adhere to the Gandhian principle and “be the change she wanted to see.” and accept her mistakes gracefully and make corrections wherever necessary more conscientiously than ever before. Her resolve clarified my predicament and has hopefully left me a better person.

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