My mind keeps going back to that moment.
It was a few days ago.
The moment when those words were said; hurtful words. In hindsight, they were probably not targeted towards me, but they hurt me nevertheless.
I was speechless in having witnessed the other world those words revealed. I was struck by the sudden awareness that there is another truth that had come to life through those words and I cannot ignore that any more.
Whatever was the scenario, the words that had been uttered burnt like fire.
In the epic philosophical work, Thirukkural, there is a couplet that goes –
“Healed would be, the burn caused by fire; no such respite
For that caused by the speak”
Such is the power of words.
Not just those specific words, but in general words can be powerful and make one react in a totally irrational way. Words can cause someone to focus only on mitigating the effects those words created without worrying about the consequences. In those moments, the entire universe seems to be tangled around those words working hard to set them free and set things in motion.
We are a species who speak all the time. We like to be heard. We admire those who can speak eloquently. Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill and closer home, Arignar Anna and even Hitler, led their followers as much through their powerful words as much as their ideologies.
So it is probably no wonder that words hold their sway on us, one way or the other.
How are some words more powerful than others? Why do some have the capacity to move mountains whereas some fall flat and sink with no trace?
With a teenager and be-tweener at home, I am only well aware of the latter. How much ever a parent tries to instil remorse in a child’s mind through words, the effort reflects right back out, like light rays on a mirror (that’s when seizing electronics becomes the only option)
But, a “Are you wearing that today?” coming from a friend can have disastrous effects.
And then some more words linger, long after they have been said. They work upon you, colour your mind and cloud your thoughts. They carry the energy of the moment every time they surface.
What causes such words? Is it divine intervention? Or is it plain “speaking from the heart”?
A lot certainly lies with the person who speaks the words. The authenticity and intent have a definite impact.
But the effect is not complete without the listener. How sensitive and receptive the audience is matters quite a bit too (as exhibited by the reaction of teenagers to parents’ advice).
But the most powerful words are aided by a brush of magic, in my opinion. There is something that hangs in the air that makes them shine.
Indisputably, such words have played a role in shaping the world we live in today.
All I can say in conclusion is, as mighty as words might seem, you still have a choice. Choice of what to say and how to react to what has been said. Choose to be kind.