NO! How difficult is it to REALLY understand this word? Even in text messaging, they haven’t come up with a short cut of the word yet. However, we find it pretty hard to really hear it, and hence really accept it. A lot of it has something to do with the culture that we grew up with. We are a proud race. Our elders always told us we are a great nation. That often makes me wonder if this sense of pride sometimes surpasses our sense of logic whenever we hear a NO.
Don’t believe me yet. But consider it once. The incident is mundane enough as always yet exposes something which is so typical of us. One of my friends (who is in India on business) goes to this real hap gym in town. Once while she was doing her treadmill, this he-thinks-he-is-a-hunk guy approached her with the signature ‘would you frandship with me’ proposal. She gently refused the offer. He tried the ‘you don’t understand’ technique to ‘it’s just friendship’ funda. My friend got annoyed, she just plugged in her iPod and resumed exercising. Turned out this guy was a small time model and he just couldn’t understand how a ‘white’ girl could refuse his offer. Within minutes, this guy shifted gears and actually stood in front of her. Next thing, he started cat-walking to show that he is a model. He signaled her to take off her plug-in and listen to what he was saying. My friend, superbly amused at that moment, obliged. And that’s what she heard: “You don’t understand. I am a model, see. Look at my moves. You cannot refuse me.” Needless to say my friend burst into laughter and walked out of the room.
A guest says he doesn’t want the mithai. A No. We still insist. She says she doesn’t love him. A Big No. He still tries, sometimes even at the cost of becoming a stalker. We say we don’t want to buy that post paid plan. A Clear No. They still keep calling. I say I don’t want to give anything to you, beggar. A Rude No. He keeps begging and finally starts cursing. I mean what is really with us?
I believe most of the times, it is our inability to move on that makes it so hard to accept a refusal. After hearing a No, we have no idea what to do with it. We have not really learnt to move on. In theory, a parent would advise a child to forget the failing grades and look ahead. In reality, most children don’t know how to do that especially in the wake of people around them reminding them constantly of their failures.
Another tendency that totally turns me off of our race is how we love to play up our failures. How much we love to glorify the pathetic fate that comes as a bonus with our failures. Most of us don’t have the slightest clue as to how exactly does a ‘No’ fit in our lives. And so we tend to cash in on the ‘No’s. If you have ever followed the preliminary auditions of reality shows, you will know what I am saying. Numerous times the panel of judges has been surprised with the way contestants back-bit after the audition against the decision. Very few times I have come across people who would say they would fight harder next year with much grit. On many occasions the spirit of fighting harder comes more out of revenge than acceptance of shortcomings. Revenge is much more passionate, humility is boring. It’s a ‘me-dominated’ society where ‘I’ is bigger than anyone who dares challenge it.
On a serious note, I think this attitude strips us off sportsmanship. We forget that failure teaches us only when we choose to learn from it. And that happens AFTER we accept a failure or a disappointment. The one thing I absolutely love about most Western cultures is that their No is a No and their Yes is a Yes. In India, there are only ‘May be No’s and ‘May be Yes’s. While watching a season of the famous tele series ‘Friends’, I realized how if they broke up with someone, they would accept it just like they missed a bus or burnt a cake on a bad day. They moved on with a smile. Pick any tele series in India and you would be surprised how closely it resembles our real life attitude of ‘No may not be a No’.
While I have seen this mostly in context with relationships, the general tendency of Indians is no less different. Red light on a traffic signal is a No. So are many sign boards like No Smoking or No Parking or No Entry or No Spitting. Do we see a No there?
Back to my concern, I think it is healthy to accept whenever we go wrong. It is for the sake of our own interest when we admit that since we failed somewhere, a No is all we can expect. Strange that we are so eager to say a No to a No. And that locks us up in a time period. We fail to move on in life because we are still at that threshold when we had heard a No.
My readers, let a No sink in. Let it travel through your heart. Let it flow in the form of tears. Let it settle down like mist on a leaf. Let it seep in like rain drops in a tree trunk. Unless it does, you won’t experience rejuvenation. A renaissance won’t come. The Dark Ages shall prevail.
PS: A few newspapers told me a ‘No’ sometime ago. I accepted and moved on. ‘Just Blogging’ came into being. Happy Birthday JB!