-By Kajal Chatterjee
Phewa – the famous lake meandering around the Himalayan ranges at Pokhara, Nepal. In the evening the lake gets flocked with tourist boats. While the local Nepalese and Indian tourists enjoy their ride steered by the boatmen (as well as women) and sporting life jackets, the Western tourists just hire the boats and steer it independently without any jacket clasping their bodies. Some in group of two or three, some boating alone. Single man/woman, exclusive men/women group or of mixed vintage — all form of permutation combination possible.
We reached one corner of the giant lake. And noticed a single Western woman approaching our end by rowing a boat. My wife exclaims (obviously in Bangla) — “Just see how these Westerners boldly row their boats independently without even any life jacket also”! The lady promptly and humbly shouts smilingly in English — “We know rowing. We know swimming”! Simply I got stunned by it. Firstly, there lies no question of her understanding Bangla. Secondly, she was certainly not even at hearing range. Yet how could she came up with the correct response! Surely my wife’s lip movement and/or surprised facial language created that magic! Is body language the greatest language of all?
Perhaps this is the truth which can get vindicated by an anecdote revolving Gunter Grass, the famous German novelist. Amitava Roy, a professor of English and drama at a Kolkata university, had translated “The Plebians’ by Grass and decided to stage it. Grass agreed to be the co-director. While sitting through the rehearsals, Grass was promptly detecting any missed line or scene whenever the script was deviating from the original even though the German author was absolutely ignorant in Bangla!
Despite being Bengali, sometimes it gets difficult to comprehend the meaning of many words as spoken in Purulia or Bankura district! And it is almost impossible to decipher the Bangla as spoken in Chittagong/Sylhet region of Bangladesh! Yet the Western tourist in Nepal or the German Grass is clearly appreciating the spirit of Bangla just by noticing the body language!
Indeed this is the reason why we can clearly feel whether we are welcome in any family/ home/gathering or not just by feeling the vibe and body language of the host and participants. A slight hint of gesture, smile, nod or conversely a frown, smirk on the face is enough to understand whether the concerned person likes me or not.
Also I think that human personalities emit rays as well. In the eating arena of our office complex, I used to come across two persons. No problem with the rest. But as soon as my eyesight used to meet the duo, immediately a very bitter feeling used to invade my consciousness! I used to get amazed by it! After all they didn’t cause any harm upon me! Neither have I seen them committing any ill of sorts! Yet so much psychological antipathy towards them! I used to feel guilty in mind for my unexplained strange thought process. But one day I saw one of them in a very rude light. On an absolutely negligible issue, he acted very roughly with the lady food vendor coupled with caustic remarks and venom in tongue! And couple of weeks later, I saw the second man in a vulgar light. He can express dissent against any political leader or party, but it needs to be done in a civilized language. But the deluge of unprintable unparliamentary remarks coming out liberally from his mouth was simply intolerable. And then I understood that perhaps their internal filthiness was being reflected through their personalities even with mouths closed!
And in contrast resided a middle-aged gentleman I used to witness on the Railway platform daily. We were not introduced to each other. I hadn’t seen him doing any good for others also. Yet his appearance at the morning while waiting for the train used to please me. Apparently just without any reason. Now one morning as I was approaching a narrow junction through foot from the right side; he reached that very junction at that very point of time, but from the left riding on a bicycle. I stopped on my tracks to let his cycle pass. And simultaneously he also braked his cycle to let me pass! As soon as I saw his cycle coming to halt, I started. And simultaneously he also paddled his cycle on seeing me stop! Again stop on the part of both of us, again start from both simultaneously! This start-stop game continued couple of times more, all within few seconds!
This thing is very natural in busy narrow streets; but maximum of the time one or both starts frowning debating or shouting! But amazingly both of us burst into a hearty laughter following this involuntary misunderstanding! And then I discovered that surely this positive accommodating tolerant spirit within the personality used to come out from the body of the person whom I used to like in my mind without any apparent reason!
Indeed actions gestures and internal positive/negative ray oozing out speak louder than words and languages!