An Idiot's Tale

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An Idiot's Tale

Cacography of a madcap story teller, JAYEETA GHORAI

Innuendos have done the language to death.

In my childhood, gay was a happy word.

Straightforward. Simple. No double meaning. No saying something and rampant mischance of it being misunderstood.

I am a simple thinker, I can only see things straight ahead of my nose, no veering left or right. (“You’ll not make a good driver”, my friend quipped, smiling.) And I speak my mind, equally straight…purely from my heart…simply as my eyes see things.

This new world of linguistic connotations makes me a grumbling befuddled verbal dinosaur.

I make terrible semantic faux pas. It’s extremely annoying to have a room full of strangers suddenly turn from their computers, give me astonished looks and break into guffaws. Not till that minute do I realize what an ass my big mouth was making of itself.

Then the leg pulling begins.

My sense of humour is not above myself. I find it easy enough to laugh at me. But in the middle of a heated discussion is not appropriate timing, neither occasion.

I think speedily, in quantum, and am usually so vociferous in putting a point across that am quite careless of second, or third, implications. Then the hidden counterpoint jabs back at me, ouch, and shreds my personality to bits. Whatever airy thought I had hooked to the big picture is lost in a poof. No chance remains after this of being able to establish that all important though illusive theme.

The collective laughter pulls a full brake on seriousness. During arguments I am anything but flippant.

Scatterbrains as I can’t afford thin skin. I haven’t, except not being able to complete my enthusiastic rant annoys me no ends; and actually, even God doesn’t like being laughed at by little known strangers (I have this from the equine tongue, on the strictest confidence.) Till I get to know them better, I am slightly wary of unfamiliar company; this belies my instant bonhomie, but ice really thawing, that comes only after due interval.

I remember telling a group of master trainers, in somber distress, how waking up early morning – to complete assignments– was so not my thing. I preferred returning to bed at shift end, around after 1AM, spreading handouts, workbooks and reference text on the cot and sitting to work till my brain couldn’t take any further. This was how I had always studied, but this, alas, was no more to be. My PG roommate was this sheer heat-on-two-legs airhostess who lambasted me one night. I quietly got up and switched the light off.

She proceeded to keep me awake the next two hours, kootchie kooing on her mobile, in what she figured to be her best undertone.

(Have you ever lain awake listening to a post-pubescent love note on the next pillow? Please, don’t, spare yourself the honour.  And if you aren’t over-charged on testosterone, of having a twenty year old airhostess for bed mate.)

I was an owl, not lark, I said, sleep deprived and shaken.

“Owl or lark?” Super pretended to be confused.

“Owl’s what people call you, you know, if you’re active at night…” I began explaining.

Super promptly turned, beamed me the widest grin and cut me short. “Oh that I am, I can assure you.”

All empathy for me flew from that zero-ventilation room that minute.

Was I offsetting the chilling central air conditioner at that point, or adding to it, go reckon. I so recollect cursing me, as aloud as silently possible.

Once in a client conducted training session, playing Blind Man (for the illumination of lazy bones who don’t know but won’t look it up either, the game has participants blind folded, holding uniquely cut objects, describing theirs aloud to find partners possessing similar items across the table) I called out –

“I have this shape with curved sides and a hole in it.”

The trainer’s VAIO video-recorded how my hands, till that moment perusing the item’s border, instantly sailed to my ears. The room exploded, and my pathetic abashed grimace got me no mercy for long after. My reporting manager, that man you don’t usually want as adversary, ribbed me the loudest.

So no, double entendre doesn’t go down well with me.

I hate having to bite my tongue and consciously swallow whenever ‘gay’ almost pops out of me, totally out of context, in a world where it has come to mean everything from perversion to coercion, derision to persecution; I mean everything save its original sense of jollity. To be gay today is to be crucified, taboo, sad, lonely, beaten, bruised.

I have no problem with a word having seven different implications, each as weirdly unconnected as possible. That is what makes language fun, the art of toying around holds promise. What I object to is the pinning down of a term till the point it can no longer be flexible. This is linguistic dictatorship; thought deprivation.

Yes languages die. But getting die-cast wouldn't be my chosen way to be put to the coffin.

On an earth askew totally beyond the realm of my rectification, I the witless rebel, will continue to crib, and miss, my ability to talk straight, meaning and being understood for what I intend; and my gay rights.




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