IT had been months since I visited a friend’s home, courtesy the pandemic. I recall that our socialising had already taken a backseat because of the social distancing in force. Decades ago, in my adolescence, whenever I went to buy groceries, I pedalled fast to steal a few moments with my friend whose home was on the way. Our visits at odd hours to share silly secrets and exchange notebooks were a daily need.
The other day, a Punjabi poet told me that when he started writing, he would rush to another poet friend’s home after penning his new lines and over a cup of tea, both indulged in ‘gair zaroori gallan’ (inconsequential talk). Such chit-chat laid the groundwork for transitioning to serious, deeper topics.
His nostalgic talk took me back to my hometown where people sat together over a fire lit at the end of the day, mundane talk leading to communion. A feeling of being connected is the bedrock of man’s nature, the tendency to congregate and enjoy each other’s company.
Why do humans associate? Owing to weaknesses and wants, the need for acknowledgement and appreciation, but it would be more correct to attribute it to the delight we have in sitting and exchanging tidbits, experiencing pleasure of the feel of talk. Well, the fact is that people must meet frequently and say something to get over the highs and lows of life which we all face in silence. ‘I love talking about nothing,’ said Oscar Wilde, ‘it is the only thing I know anything about.’
However inconsequential the things spoken, we are always learning something, exploring novel ideas. These idle talks breezily turn us into a ‘sure’ person. We all know that non-purposeful talk possesses no great value in the art of conversation. No one aspires for banality, but then, it is the first way that the things are made intelligible to us, especially things we are not acquainted with or haven’t experienced ourselves. These empty pleasantries help in overcoming the inhibitions and prepare us for bigger talks.
Otherwise, cell phones have made eavesdropping a fact of modern life as we have an ocean of knowledge at our fingertips. With our heads buried in our screens, we call our families and friends and say, ‘No phone call for so many days?’ Earlier, it used to be: ‘No visit for so many days, all well?’
Phone calls and text chats have replaced face-to-face socialising. Meeting over tea means putting down our phones, unplugging for a while and speaking with a real person, comprehending his countenance. With the pandemic gradually losing its grip, why not pay a surprise visit to a friend’s place?
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