Growing up in a family that loved its pomp and ceremony, I grew to love it as well. Occasions, attires, conversations, and pretty much the entire existence had to be just that little bit louder. Those moments were always fun, but as time passed by most exciting things did not feel so exciting any more. Books, an eclectic group of friends and motherhood gave me new perspective, some prudence and an eye for the beauty of subtle – the implicit and the unsaid.
Being a book lover, reading has been a journey for me. Starting with reading as a ‘good habit’ and then for pleasure, I matured to reading that gave me mindfulness. As I read more and understood the nuances of language, I discovered the charm of subtle writing. Once a lover of ornamental language and long-windedness, I now found myself drawn to the exact opposite – simple words that mattered, evocative imagery, innuendos and content that kindled my thinking. I did not need to know everything all at once and found joy in savouring words, exploration and reflection.
Book clubs introduced me to an eclectic group of people who turned into friends and the philosophers and guides of my life. The monthly meet ups over coffee were filled with insightful discussions on books and myriad other topics. And just like that, I learnt the value of subtlety in conversation. There were some who would wax eloquent to prove their profound understanding of the book being discussed. And then there were those who said it all in a few words with delicate references, simple suggestions and modest observations. No hyperboles, no verbosity, just simply expressed thoughts, an affirmative nod, a gentle smile or even silence.
Motherhood helped me understand the cliché that even the subtlest actions speak louder than words. Always the quiet one in the family, my son was happy in his space. He was reserved and almost came across as indifferent and unemotional, which concerned me and I would conjure up countless excuses to get him to ‘talk more’. As he grew up and me along with him, I slowly understood how his caring gestures expressed his love more candidly than mere words. The fleeting glances of approval, the frowns of concern on his face and the gentle pats on his little sister’s cheek were more heartfelt than a hug. There were no lavishly expressed emotions; just simple gestures that always hit the right notes.
Subtlety is almost indescribable and its beauty lies in the fact that it does not shout out for attention, but allows us to explore and appreciate. It was self-awareness that made me recognise this attribute, and once I did, it helped me ‘see’ and ‘feel’ little things, like joy in a simple cup of hot fragrant tea on a rainy day, the warmth of gently holding hands with a loved one, the balmy smell of freshly cut grass… just that little bit.
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