We are living in a world where nobody has time for anybody. We live, eat and sleep as if we have to catch a train or flight all the time. We behave almost as if we are about to miss our train or flight and hence do not have time for anyone around us.
I remember my childhood days when all of us in the family waited for each other to have dinner together and then listening to the evening news together on radio. Nowadays every member of the family is busy onto to themselves and do not even have the time to talk to each other. In many cases spouses are not even staying in the same home in the same city. Children also are studying in boarding schools far away from their homes and hence family get togethers every day is a rarity.
Let us look at neighbourhood and friends. Having lived in large metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, I can say confidently that most of us do not even know our immediate neighbours. We are so busy with our own career and lives that we do not have time for anyone else in our lives leave alone our neighbours. This makes our homes as houses with just a shelter to spend the night for most of us.
Over and above all this, the workplace is increasingly becoming virtual. Relationships in social media are virtual and there is no emotion attached to it. This makes the world a lonely place to live in. Children do not know whom to share their concerns with. Apart from busy parents, even neighbourhood aunts and uncles are not around to listen to them. At the workplace, the competitive world has made us more self centred and we care more for ourselves than others.
Under these circumstances where does the child go ? How can children express their anguish and to whom ? Even adolescents and young adults find it difficult to express themselves. Friends in social media are measured by the likes they post on them rather than their genuine love and concern for you. The best test is when you are not well – physically or mentally – how many of your friends show concern and lend a listening ear.
It is here I would say that it is increasingly important to listen to what is being said and more to what is NOT. We generally are not sensitive to children, adolescents or adults expressing their feelings to anyone. Anyone who shares their emotions are laughed at. This makes them introverts and they say more in actions and deeds than words.
Like an artist may express emotions through their art or a singer through his music. A writer may express through their literature. We need to worry about how common men and women can express themselves. We need to learn the art of listening to the unsaid. It may be easy to comprehend what is being said but many a time a lot remains unsaid and this is where we miss their emotions.
I remember parents asking why you are sad today. Or a friend sitting along with you in silence to comfort you. A teacher enquiring about a child from their expressed emotions rather than words. A neighbour visiting you for no reasons but just to make a statement that they are around for you all the time.
As in the photo above, we need to sense what is being expressed through her expression even if she does not say anything. In these days of the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, people are feeling more lonely than ever before. A listening ear will be of great support.
We need to rekindle our conscience. We need to learn to laugh and cry. We need to listen to what is not being said in words but expressed otherwise.
Let us learn to talk less and listen more.
S Ramesh Shankar
16th June 2020