A season of words

Let’s celebrate our words in their brevity and substance

Candid Corner

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” —Denis Waitley

- Advertisement -

There is a time to speak, and there is a time to be silent. It is not always a profusion of words that help you convey your message across. There are occasions when silence can do so more effectively. One wonders whether, in our mad rush to occupy space, we have conveniently forgotten that art – the art of silence!

Our television screens are an apt reminder of this infatuation to push in with words irrespective of whether they are serving the desired purpose or not. There is this impatience with barging in with your bit irrespective of whether it is your turn to speak or not. Why this gratuitous and remorseless obsession with the spoken word which is mostly shorn of meaning and substance? They just create noise and, at times, quite unbearable.

Words can have substance, but words can also be empty. Words tell a story, but words can be misleading. Words can elevate your soul, but words can plunge you in depths of despondency. Words can make you fly, but words can deprive you of your dreams. Words can nurture, words can heal, words can drive you to your destination, but words can also inflict deep wounds which may be incurable. Words speak in their brevity, but words can be silent in their profusion. Words can bathe humans in undying hope, but words can drive them to irremediable impoverishment. Words are makers and words are destroyers. The stories words write come in countless hues and shades, each with its own distinctive meaning and impact.

Life is not all about words. Life is much more than that. In essence, words cannot quite communicate the meaning and purpose of life. At times, they destroy its spirit. A few words chosen with care may do a much better job than a lot of them blurted at random. Instead of bringing people together, they may drive them apart. Words can turn close familiarity into estrangement. Words are weavers, but words can also wreck human spirit. Words can generate despondency which may perpetually inflict your soul, leaving behind inconsolable effects.

When I see people talking endlessly without purpose, I feel scared because they are not able to communicate with any level of conviction. In fact, they damage their cause. There is no scarcity of such people. All you need to do is sit in front of the television any evening of your choice and you will meet them flinging themselves out of the screen with words memorised from the choicest dictionary which ring hollow when spoken. They come like metal rods hitting you ceaselessly to cause pain. The affliction is endless.

Life signifies movement, unstoppable movement. Words give it the flow it deserves. The drift of life, when woven together in words, has a transporting effect which makes one traverse new vistas, surmount new heights. That gives movement its meaning and human effort its spirit. This is an unending struggle, elevating at times, depressing at others. Words weave these emotions together to give them a purpose. Without words, they would remain meaningless, drifting along circuitous alleys, leading you nowhere. One would be forever lost in the immensity of the world around, struggling to find a clue to move further.

Conversely, if I see a person sitting in a corner all by himself, I am tempted to approach him and engage in a conversation. I feel certain that in the few words that he may say, he would be able to convey his purpose. Such words leave an everlasting impression on you as you walk away further convinced of the beauty of brevity.

- Advertisement -

Not all words convey the same meaning. Even a combination of words may not always serve the requisite purpose. The manner in which they are spoken may alter their meaning. Words delivered in a monotonous tedium may forever remain devoid of communicating the intended message or sentiment.

There is so much more to words. Human dreams are embedded in words. They take you along unending trails of struggle and yearning. Faraz sahib said that dreams are everlasting. They are. They don’t die. They only find expression in new words:

Dreams weave words

Dreams spread light

Dreams breed Socrates

Dreams make Mansoors

In these cruel times, brevity has given way to surfeit. There is so much of everything wasting away, mourning the inherent human insensitivity and absence of caring. There is this painful monotony which has taken over the flow of things but, deep down, there is a desolate and lonely spirit, forever longing for the beloved to appear from behind the hovering clouds, the immensity of mountains, the flowing streams and raindrops pouring from the skies. The inimitable Faiz has cast this in his magical words:

Loneliness like a familiar comrade of old

Came by to quaff my desolate soul

Together we wait for the moon to rise

And see your image glow in every shadow

While the current times may have much to celebrate, we don’t see the likes of Faiz serenading human spirit or Faraz defying adversity. There is much mundane stuff around which lacks in substance. It is like a life drifting along without purpose. It is like words have lost their meaning and dreams their shape. It is a feeling of overwhelming pain that bites into your being, leaving behind pangs of remorse. Is this an endless struggle, or will there ever be any respite to conjure up new images to fathom and new causes to celebrate? One is again reminded of Faiz sahib’s incomparable imagery, this caravan of pain which is eternally in motion:

This caravan of pain

Will it halt somewhere?

This drift of life

Will it meet its shore someday?

 

Our emaciated frame not fully immersed

In the tide of blood

Only when it does

Will our life be spared

 

Let the sails not be unfurled

Of the ship of wine

Let the hurricane of life

Subside first

 

There being nothing but lethal poison

In the tavern tonight

Only those who are fit to die

May stay to drink

Life signifies movement, unstoppable movement. Words give it the flow it deserves. The drift of life, when woven together in words, has a transporting effect which makes one traverse new vistas, surmount new heights. That gives movement its meaning and human effort its spirit. This is an unending struggle, elevating at times, depressing at others. Words weave these emotions together to give them a purpose. Without words, they would remain meaningless, drifting along circuitous alleys, leading you nowhere. One would be forever lost in the immensity of the world around, struggling to find a clue to move further.

In spite of the turmoil around, one should make an effort not to strip life of its meaning. We can add to it through the magic of words which come with their inimitable appeal. They turn the ordinary into sublime and give human effort a direction. Let that not be lost as we waste our words falling upon unresponsive souls drifting along in high tide, sans direction.

Raoof Hasan
The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Nawaz Sharif ‘vaccinated in Lahore’ despite being in London

LAHORE: A fake Covid vaccine entry using former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s CNIC has been made at a Lahore vaccination centre, it was learned...