Silence is golden

The truth is finally out in the open. My shrink, with the help of controlled medication and hypnosis, has concluded what my wife had long suspected. I suffer from ‘foot-in-the-mouth’ disease, which has over time become chronic. The first episode goes back to my days in the air force some 50 years back. I was a young bachelor officer living in the officers’ mess. We used to have regular mess meetings presided by a senior officer. We, the officers could air our grievances or problems about food or other mess activities.
Bravado, being my middle name, I stood up and complained about the unappetising food and let go a massive tirade against the food member. “He is no good and he needs to be disciplined,” was my impassioned plea. The presiding officer asked me to stand up and state my name. Believing that commendation or a big award was on my way for being for my frank statement, I got up and said with the chest expanded and with full military lung power, “My name is flying officer Kumar, sir.” Pat came the order, “Flying officer Kumar, with immediate effect, you are appointed as the food member of the mess” and he closed the meeting.

The shrink said that being an obsessive compulsive personality, I have nurtured the habit with great intensity.

I am part of a group where we learn the art of making speeches before large audiences. The other evening I complained to the president that the speeches in our group were turning to big bores because most of the speakers delivered some very serious stuff or the other. The president readily agreed with me and asked me to take over the task of making humourous speeches.

When I mentioned that to my wife, hoping for some empathetic response, this is what she had to say: “I have read somewhere that with age comes wisdom but in your case, age appears to have come alone”. To rub salt in my wounds she added, “I don’t think you have heard the famous quote of Oscar Wilde, who said: “It was silly to give advice; but to give good advice was absolutely fatal”.”

During my second visit to a psychiatrist, I asked him whether there was any remedy from the disease because I found myself landing in trouble too often for comfort. He said he did not know of any sure remedy. As I got up to take leave, he said looking very serious the way only shrinks can look, “See, if you can strictly follow the credo ‘Do not speak unless it can improve upon silence’.”

I am still trying to figure out his advice.

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