When the Trinamool Congress parted ways with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government last year, the words of Mamata Banerjee hit like a bombshell, but those of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav were like a healing balm. Now, as Didi has again promised support to the UPA, her words are soothing, but those of M Karunanidhi are bitter to the UPA. Indeed, words act as bombs or balms, depending on how and when they are used.
I was once travelling in a jampacked local bus in Delhi. A middle-aged woman requested the conductor for a seat; he helped her get one. But when it came to giving the ticket, the conductor demanded the fare in the form of change. He was not going to 'break' a Rs 500 note just for a Rs 10 ticket. But the woman got infuriated and used filthy language. When she got off the bus, the driver requested her: "Madam, you left something behind." "What!' cried the woman. "A suffocating behaviour," the driver politely told her.
The words we use are potentially powerful. Whatever we utter is constructive or destructive. The mother who always praises her child can turn even dross into gold. But the one who always criticises and finds faults with her growing child can turn gold into dross. I always used to apply the same principle to my children and students.
A careless boy, instead of attending classes, took to drugs as my colleagues would condemn him in the presence of girl students, making him the butt of jokes. However, I started patting and praising him with kind and loving words. To the utter surprise of others, the result was astounding. The boy improved his performance and went on to clear the civil services exam with distinction, winning the hand of a girl student in whose presence he was taunted by his teachers.
Once, a frustrated husband came to my clinic and told me how his wife abused him in the presence of his neighbours. When asked about how he reacted, he bluntly said: "I, too, abuse her in self-defence!" When I counselled him that families are not run with such self-defence, but with love and affection, he stared wide-eyed. When he realised that careful use of words can make or mar family life, his own got better considerably. Instead of directly finding faults with his wife, if the husband says it with love and affection, things always take a good turn.
Politics is no different. While criticising their opponents, politicians use "explosive" words. But while coming closer, they make their words work like a soothing balm. No wonder, politicians are masters in the skilful use of language.