You are very quiet today!

One of them went near the sofa and sat on it with a free fall motion. The contact between the sofa leather and his slightly bulky bottoms produced a sound- ‘thhump!’- trumpeting the presence of authority which cares little for consequence. Another one pulled a chair near the table and in the simple act of getting seated you could see a perfect display of good manners one learns growing up in middle class families. His calm confidence, which is all over the place, is that of a ‘self-made person’- a title that most people from his social tribe proclaim, making each of them feel uniquely valuable- and perhaps rightly so.

The topics of discussion are ‘low-risk’ as usual. Mostly politics, which basically means that it’s all just a fancy, well-read gossip. National politics, international politics, local institutional politics and on some rare occasions a few bold people might dare so much as give their opinions on real life, hard-core gossip. I think of these discussions as low-risk because they are widely understood and popular and one could engage in such discussions for hours, voicing and hearing opinions without revealing much about one self or bothering to know much about others. Such an arrangement, by default, makes it difficult for most people to leave the table making fool of themselves, unless they are really trying to.

It is before you even begin to speak that you find your audience alert, taking mental notes and preparing a solid come back as a reply to whatever is yet to come out of your mouth. They are not lacking in manners at all but something about their body language gives away their ploy. Their body language and their eyes. The intently glistening eyes.

The discussion having put forth different ideas inevitably becomes an argument. However, out of sheer politeness not many will admit to that. To put weight to their point of view, people exhibit different behaviors. It is hard to decide if these behavioral patterns come to surface because these people are so absorbed and enthusiastic about the discussion (argument) or because it is the secret weapon to emphasize their point, making others psychologically submit- if not logically. If you are anyhow still immune to the fervor in the air, you are most likely to make these observations…. some of them constantly shift their body weight, some do not hesitate in flinging their hands rigorously and some move them just around the wrist, slightly, letting their half dangling fingers deliver the impact. There is ever increasing animation in their tones, facial expressions and the use of difficult but suave words becomes more and more frequent.

The ideas though seemingly contradicting, are each honorable in their own light, with their own undeniable justifications. As with every argument ever, there is an unspoken competition.  The competition to have the last word….hopefully with a valid argument, but if necessary, with a ‘juggat’. The arrogant sentiment that hangs thick in the air broadcasting ‘you may be right, but not more than me’ strips their attempt of pseudo-intellectual discussion of any intellect. What is left is nothing but noise. Meaningless. Aimless. You shall in these deafening moments, find your regard and appreciation renewed for those who practice silence. You are suddenly very respectful to the idea of such people’s existence.

Like a considerate host, he has been watchful of his guests. You are aware of him eyeing you more than once from the corners. Finally he remarks, “ You have been  very quiet today”. You take roughly a second and a half to halt your train of thoughts and come up with something that is both tasteful and tactful but you took too long. Someone jokingly chimes in that women are not much into politics anyway as God has made them to think about other things. Another, coming quick to save you from such harsh generalization, puts the blame on your constant stressful thinking which may lead you to depression someday. You can not in all honesty disagree with this suggestion. So you force a smile, hoping to conceal behind it your disdain towards the lack of originality in the show you witnessed today. You are also aware that others are struggling to do the same at this point- for one reason or another. Each convinced that as social decency demands, there is a need to hide their contempt and each feeling entitled to hold it anyway. Each satisfied with the day’s little reunion, each genuinely looking forward to another.