Seven Sentences of Communication

The Saturday Club at Dombivali invited me to address them at their conference held last weekend. I used to stay about a kilometer away from the Savitribai Phule auditorium and the area was known to me well. I moved out of it in 1978, so it was after thirty years later that I was visiting it. And that brought back some memories.

The area in front of our house, a small bungalow, was very green and a lot of trees. Moving away into the Industrial Estate I used to look at big sculptures made by Mr Rajabhau Sathe in his foundry. The silhouette of those statues used to frighten me sometimes in the evening, around sunset. The Industrial area was full of effluents, even a tenth part of it will not be tolerated today which is a good sign.

And I remember accompanying my father, a doctor, when a group of workmen came to invite him to attend to an unconscious lady. He examined her and did not say much except engaging in a talk about her family. The woman was married and her husband, a poor unskilled worker, became a ‘suspect’ in the eyes of his friends. Some of them tacitly suggested that he must have ‘done something’ that made here unconscious. The couple spoke Malayalam and they hailed from Kerala. They were married just a few months earlier. So the mystery deepened. Everybody waited for the Doctor to give some medicine but he seemed to be in a mood to chat with the men, about six or eight who had assembled in the small hut of the poor family.
Suddenly turning around the Doctor asked the unconscious lady, ‘Per yanda’ [What’s your name?]. To my shock the lady opened her eyes and told him her name. All were surprised. My father told her husband that the lady feels terribly lonely, she cannot speak any language except Malayalam, and she cannot communicate with anyone other than him, so it was essential to get somebody with whom she could converse while he was away to work.

On my way back he explained to me that it was a case of hysteria. I have always wondered what happens to people who go abroad to a land where they do not understand the language the locals speak. And when Osho says so aptly that you communicate all the time, it is impossible to do otherwise, to quote him, ‘You can not not-communicate,’ how much of communication we must be missing in our daily life!

I mentioned this to an elderly lady. She said [in lighter vein] that she and her husband speak seven sentences at home. He gets up and asks ‘Paper aala? [Has the newspaper been delivered at home?], then he has his cup of tea while reading newspaper and then asks ‘Towel kuthay? [Where is my towel?] before going for his bath. He then asks, ‘Aaj breakfast la kay aahe? [What are you serving for breakfast?]. He then picks up his bag and says ‘Jato ga’ [I am leaving for office]. When he returns home [in Mumbai people are out for about 12 to 14 hours] he asks, ‘Kay patra-bitra? [Any mail?]. Then he asks ‘Aaj jevayala kay aahe?’ [What have you made for dinner?]. And when he hits bed he asks ‘Main darwajyala kadi ghatlis ka’ [Have you locked the main front entrance door?]. I found this interesting and narrated it to many and surprisingly many of them told me that it was their story too!

So much for communication and dialogue between husband and wife. I remembered all this on the valentine’s day!!