I was in a meeting at my office yesterday. The mood of the discussions was somewhat tense as one of the teams involved was resisting a proposal the other was making. And there were also the usual undercurrents of perceptions playing. It came to a point where I thought the discussion was heading towards an abrupt end.The senior manager of one of the teams opened his mouth to make what seemed a final statement. There was a brief period of silence where we were all literally looking in to his mouth.
Before he could start, the pin drop silence was broken by a sharp ‘gluuup…’ sound.
A girl who was in the meeting had had a hiccup.
It was very odd; it was totally out of place in the midst of such an intense discussion. What added to the oddness was that the girl was very pretty.The helpless girl looked around with an expressionless face, while I could see that everyone what trying hard to pretend as if nothing had happened and conceal their smiles.
The manager paused for a moment to give her a menacing look, before he resumed making his point. The meeting continued and soon I noticed something interesting. The mood had now changed, the tension somewhat eased and the discussion was taking a constructive turn.
I couldn’t help wondering how such a seemingly trivial thing as a hiccup when correctly (or incorrectly to be more precise) placed, could have such an impact on the situation.
This reminded me of a wonderful story that I had read long back. This story was written by a great writer of my language Vaikom Muhammad Basheer. (He was an eccentric, Sufi, traveler, wrestler and a cook apart from being a writer) Most of his writings were based on his personal experience and were characterized by their simplicity and truthfulness.
This short little story was titled ‘Bhhrrr…’.
There was this house that Basheer used to frequent as a child. He was quite at home there and had all the freedom. But there was a problem. There was an extremely pretty girl (slightly elder to him) in that house whom Basheer admired and adored. And Basheer froze whenever he was in front of here. He was speechless. He could freely interact with everyone else except this girl.
Basheer used to sit in front of her, admiring her. She maintained an air of dignity and would also not engage in any conversation with him.
This went on for a long time, until one day the following incident took place. As usual Basheer was sitting silently in front of the girl admiring her and she refusing even to acknowledge his presence. Then all of a sudden she let a fart out. Both of them froze for a moment, completely blown by what just happened. Then Basheer broke in to a violent fit of laughter. It took him a moment to come back to his senses and face the girl with an apologizing look.
Then something unexpected took place. The girl smiled and soon broke in to a laughter; which Basheer immediately joined.
All the tension between them broke on that day and Basheer could interact with her normally from then on.
Though somewhat unacceptable to our cultured minds, it’s these simple statements of truth that makes some writings outstanding. A natural expression of this kind, when comes unexpected, could do more wonders than ‘Seven Habits”, “Emotional intelligence’ , ‘Getting things done, ‘Leadership 101’ all combined.