Need a smiley to express condolence


August 29, 2012
Shobha De’s observation about the demise of Bollywood’s grand old man [even funerals are turned into events these days] is, sadly, true.

The turnout at HK Hangal’s funeral was dismal. Also traffic flowed smoothly and media lacked frenzy as show-stoppers chose to stay away.

My family, too, had a funeral in India, the same day. Not to mention it was neither an event nor an affair. Just a family mourning together for a matriarch who breathed her last.

As a grandchild, I thought it was my duty to inform folks of my generation as well as a few selected friends who are scattered around the world.

Even as my act of posting the info was strictly without expectations, I could not resist but ponder over one message from one of my friends. The words got the better of me. “I don’t know your grandmother. But my condolences.”

The very act of the person replying thus reflected the futility of the exercise. Showed how meaningless the words were. Crude and pathetic!

You condole with the affected, not the deceased!

Such ignorant mortals better stick to emoticons! The ones with shades on would be apt so as to hide the true emotions.

Condolences and wishes need to be heartfelt. But when lol!s are used to imply anything from wisecracks to inventions and parentheses-cum-colon combinations convey a myriad emotions, little wonder knowledge of appropriate words are wanting.

The word, I guess, was coined to help people tackle the awkward position they inevitably find themselves in. Majority stammers and fumbles and search for words and gestures when faced with someone who has lost loved ones. “I’m sorry to hear…” is the most commonly used line. Condolence is its crisper cousin.

There are others who call upon the affected. While the effort they take is appreciated, some end up gossiping loudly enough to shed their mourning mask. It’s simple logic: If you choose to take time out to pay your so-called respects to the departed soul then hold on for those few minutes and play that damn role modestly. Else, stay away and tweet or post a message.

The veteran Bollywood actor’s death was also accompanied by a wave of tweets and messages that inundated the social media networks. But how many fingertips tapped obligation will always remain hidden because of the ‘Me Too’ syndrome. As media study Twitter traffic to gauge the significance of any untoward incident, movers and shakers ensure they make their presence felt.

But what about the ordinary class who seek to make their presence at someone’s death but cannot do it right? A smiley will definitely rescue them.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nisha Sanjeev

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