Some folks have it, and some folks don't! The gift of the gab, I mean! And if you ask me, it is a most useful trait to have. I could think of nothing worse than to be stuck in a lift, at a party or just anywhere, with a person who does not like to talk.
For example, imagine if you are on the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, so many floors above ground level, with the most amazing panorama spread out below you - the dancing fountains, the buildings that look like Lego pieces, the incandescence of the lights at night and the feeling that you are on top of the world.
You turn to the stranger next to you, and exclaim, "Wow! Is there anything more spectacular than this!" spreading your arms around for emphasis.
A grunt is not the most desirable of answers, is it? So you decide to plug on, and take the bull by its horns.
"Is this your first time?" A question that might sound slightly improper, but isn't.
"Humph!" the muffled sound along with the head that swivels away makes it clear that the aforementioned bull is grumpy today. Really? On top of the Burj Khalifa? Talk about not counting the simple pleasures of life! I pity the man's wife from the bottom of my heart. I can well imagine what she must have had to undergo every single day.
"Is the chicken good?"
"Would you like another helping?"
I wouldn't be surprised if she threw herself off the Burj in frustration.
Another simple scenario. A party is on in full swing. There are people all around, talking nineteen to the dozen, and I smile as little phrases swing hand in hand with trite pleasantries, where every one talks and no one listens. I have my own ways of beginning a conversation, and I look at the woman next to me. She is of medium height, a bit on the heavy side, looking into her glass of cola with concentrated intensity.
"Hi, how are you doing today?" I ask. Mind you, this is only an ice breaker, and to be strictly treated as one. The normal rejoinder is, "Very well, thank you!" And if one were in South Africa, the rejoinder would continue with, And yourself?" You get the point, right?
Unfortunately, we are nowhere near South Africa, and I watch in disbelief as the dam opens up, and words begin gushing out.
"Well, if you must know, I am having the worst day ever. It is my joints, you see, which begin creaking the moment I get up in the morning. My stomach has a mind of its own and let me tell you, between my bones and my digestion, I lead a pretty miserable life!"
I try to stem the flow, but the damage has been done. The poor woman obviously has no one to talk to, because, as she adds in a footnote along with her swollen ankles, her husband lives in another city, due to work pressures. At that moment, I totally empathize with her absent husband. Till that moment, hypochondria had only been a long word in the dictionary. I now realize that its sympoms are even longer. By the time I escape, I feel and look like a frazzled cat that has been dragged backwards through a briar bush, and my husband who has been looking for me, almost doesn't recognize me. That famed twinkle in my eye seems to have disappeared for ever, under the strain of a litany of mundane, if imaginary, ailments.
Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot! There was this get together where we were a group of people on a trip together, having the time of our lives. Introductions were in full flow and there we were, memorizing as many names as possible, and trying to match husbands with wives. A pleasantly rotund lady sat next to me, and we had just got introduced. Since she had a stomach, (not having one would be a physiological impossibility, of course, but you know what I mean!), and I knew her name by now, the question leapt out. "Congratulations! When are you due?"
Her smile vanished and she gave me a cold look. "I am not expecting, thank you very much!" I could have gone through the floor at that moment. How could I salvage the moment? In my usual oh-so-graceful manner, I said to myself!
I looked at the young boy who sat next to her, and I knew exactly what I had to say to ease the situation. "What a handsome boy!" I sang out gaily. "He looks just like your husband! The same eyes, the same nose...!"
Her look turned icier than ever, as though she had taken in out of a freezer. There was a set smile on her face, as she looked squarely at me and replied, "That is not my son, thank you very much!"
"Oh, I am so sorry!" I fumbled. "I guess I thought so because he is the spitting image of the man who is standing behind him. Sorry for the mix up!" I was as red as a beet by now, and tryimg to extricate one leg out of my mouth, so that I could put the other one in.
If looks could kill, I would have been shriveled up and buried by now. The lady knotted her eyebrows, as I was slinking away. "Stop right there!" she ordered. I stopped and held my breath, as she went on. "That boy is not my son, but the man standing behind him is my husband!" Spitting image, my thoughts whirled dizzily, as I put a lid on my conjectures and beat a retreat to a safe, quiet corner.
I have had my share of close encounters when we were in the Army. As a brand new bride, I didn't know the 'D' of Diplomacy, and my poor husband had to duck often, sometimes from missiles thrown by others, but mostly at those I hurled with ease. Sometimes he would warn me not to say a thing, and I would keep that in mind so securely, that everything else would fly out of my brain. And hey presto, at the opportune moment, out would come the very thing he had told me not to let out. Many a cat I have let out of the bag for that very reason!
Of course, the day my husband yells at me for having 'yakked' too much, even as he is busy controlling the damage, I just turn to him and say with a long suffering expression, "Just you wait! One day I will stop talking and you will yearn to hear my voice again!" And instead of the prompt protests that I hope to hear from him on how he will miss my dulcet voice, there appears a glint in his eye, as he visualizes that glorious day of peace!