Saturday, May 19, 2007

Words, comforting in their familiarity

As I sit in my chair before the computer, sipping a cup of hot tea, many thoughts and ideas attack me from all sides. Half of them concern my virtually non-existent talents in Spanish, and the other half concern the comfort a familiar voice can offer. The language barrier is something that has always concerned and baffled me. I never had to face it when I arrived in Paris, seeing as I spoke French perfectly well. But, it hit me on the face when my Senegalese neighbour started speaking in rapid-fire Senegalese. This was quickly followed by an overheard conversation between two of my Chinese neighbours. And suddenly, I felt surrounded. I almost wished that I could speak in Tamil or Hindi with someone who would understand. I understand that feeling claustrophobic about incomprehensible languages is slightly crazy, but it made me realise the importance of the spoken word. I almost took my language skills for granted. I automatically assumed that I could manage because I spoke 5 languages and understood two others rather well. Apparently, that is not enough. Probably because 3 of the 5 languages are Indian languages. Words that I can understand are almost comforting in their familiarity. A simple 'thank you' can communicate so much to one who understands the meaning.

But then, I am in a rather crazy, philosophical mood, pondering the meaning of love and life, of words and meanings, of music and melody. They are all indications that there is still sense in living this life we so desperately seek to control. But, I suppose the very same words, that held so much meaning, can become meaningless and irrelevant if overused. I learnt this the hard way. But this said, I will always love words. After all, there is a reason for doing a masters in literature...

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