When peace prevailed

In recent times, politicians, film stars, sportspersons and sundry others air their opinions with or without provocation. People are quick to take offence even when none is intended. The result: open the mouth, as wide as possible (as if on a dentist’s chair), only to put the foot in. At such times, people tend to lose sight of the fact that the arguments are purely academic in nature and assume they smack of personal attack.

This doesn’t happen only in public life. On a much lower scale, controversies occur on the home front too. Opinions differ on everything from choice of colour to food preferences, from items of clothing to political affiliations, from favourite authors to different genres of films. There are times – few and far between – when views concur, taking the participants themselves by surprise.

With seasonal changes becoming more and more erratic, allergies and illnesses abound. Ambika and Venkat fell victims – the former had an ear infection that hindered hearing and the latter a bout of laryngitis that literally rendered him speechless. Ambika made the most outrageous remarks about everything Venkat held dear and smiled with devilish glee at Venkat’s frustrating inability to hit back. It was taking unfair advantage of the adversary but she wasn’t the least bit bothered about such scruples, her motto being: all’s fair in love and war.

Venkat was not one to take things quietly, quite literally so. He retaliated by watching loud, action-packed movies with more sound effects than conversation. Since Ambika’s ear was blocked, she was not really subject to the auditory assault. All the same, her expression registered her disgust much to Venkat’s cruel satisfaction.

Ambika read aloud parts from the Wodehouse book she held, laughing heartily at the author’s subtle wit. Venkat, a grouch by nature who lacked a sense of humour, walked away, his stiff back oozing resentment. To get even, he began to play a video game which Ambika abhorred. From the disapproval writ large on her face, he silently gloated over his success in needling her.

The battle of wits went on for a few days. After a while, Ambika’s barbs went unheeded and Venkat’s ruses were largely ignored. The temporary handicaps prevented verbal duels for a short time. Peace prevailed. It led a wag to remark, “If one half of the world had a speech problem and the other half was hard of hearing, there would be no wars. And I hope my made-in-jest statement will not spark off a controversy. Then I will have to take refuge in protesting that I was quoted out of context!”

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