Saturday, February 26, 2011


Vinita Dawra Nangia

If there's nothing left to say, then it spells the end of your relationship. For it's essential to have the intention to share and converse.

We have all heard of a companionable silence. And yet how long can silence help nurture a relationship? Too much silence between people can sever ties since there is nothing to build on. Conversations have as important a role to play in the building of mutual ties as silent companionship does.
Give each other space, but not so much that the chasm becomes too wide to build a bridge over. Think about this. When two people meet, they trade information about experiences, their lives prior to meeting each other, opinions, et al. After a while of doing this, they discover they are able to talk about the same things as they now have shared experiences. Soon they start repeating themselves, starting conversations with, "Have I told you this before… oh I have? Ok..." And after a while the conversation peters off...
There is nothing left to say. Have you ever experienced this? With a spouse? With a lover? Or, with a friend? It can be scary. There you are all eager to talk and connect, and there is nothing to say! Or, at least nothing the other is interested in! Is this the end of the relationship? If there is nothing left to say to each other, how or why would you enjoy each other's company? What would you look forward to?
This can only happen when neither of you makes an effort to keep the conversation, and hence the relationship, going. For that it is important to educate yourselves away from each other, to make an effort to grow in different directions and pick up new skills as you go along. For, if you have an enriched life and experiences, there is always something to share with your loved ones. Apart from having enough to ponder over and talk about, it is also important to have the intention to share and converse. A friend, Alka, shared this interesting instance of her husband Rahul's attempt to keep meaningful conversation going in their lives. "Rahul has always had this abiding interest in Hollywood films. Somehow, somewhere along the way I had missed out on most of the English classic films.
Whenever he brought up a character from one of these films or quoted instances from these as running parallel to life, the conversation would be kind of one-sided. He didn't really let me know this upset him, till one wedding anniversary, he gifted me a huge box full of the best English classics in films! He told me to watch each of these. As I would watch one, we would discuss it threadbare, from every possible angle. He would give me his take on it and listen to my opinion with deep interest. This gave a new shot in the arm to our relationship and suddenly there was something to look forward to! I consider this one of the best gifts Rahul ever gave me, because with this he gave me a key to himself, to his innermost thoughts and ideas…"
So even good conversations require some amount of work to be put in, some preparation, the intention to talk and share. If Rahul hadn't bothered to make the effort of getting the movies, or Alka hadn't bothered to watch them, they wouldn't have found their new togetherness. So when you are about to meet a friend with whom conversation has dwindled, make that extra effort not just to prepare the eatables and drinks, but also the gift of conversation. Think beforehand of some topics of common interest that will keep both of you hooked.
A colleague would reply to every question asked and every topic brought up, with "Give me some time to think and we will talk about this." And, he wouldn't forget! Sure enough next day he would get back with preparation and the conversation that followed would be well worth the wait! Some deep thinking and a consideration of various aspects would bring a depth to the conversation that would have been missing otherwise.
But what do you do if the other person is just not interested? Jyoti, deeply interested in reading, tried her best to get her husband interested as well so that they could not just share books and visits to the library, but also be able to have interesting literary discussions. But Sanjay was just not interested and any attempts on Jyoti's part to make him read would be met with derision. On the other hand, Sanjay's interest in juicy gossip left Jyoti totally cold. As a result, most attempts at conversation would end in bitterness.
As part of conversation, couple of us started discussing what could have been done by either Jyoti or Sanjay under the circumstances. One suggestion was that Sanjay, even if he didn't want to read, could at least have kept the conversation going by asking Jyoti either to read out to him or share the story with him. Another suggestion was that Jyoti should have at least the patience to hear him out when he indulged in gossip! To my mind, their lack of conversation and of any attempt to show an interest certainly showed lack of camaraderie or the will to sustain the relationship.
And true, sometimes no amount of conversation, nor attempts at it can save a relationship that one doesn't have the will to save.

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