Billing queues happen to be the most boring places to kill time (unless you are standing behind a very handsome guy, or better, between two :-)…. ). If I had a book, I would have begun reading it. But alas, I don’t carry books for next-door shopping, only long-term waiting :-).
So yesterday found me at the fag end of a looooonnggg queue at a local shopping mall, looking lost and not to mention, exceedingly hungry! I was in a hurry to get my purchases billed and rush home to gorge on scrumptious bisi-beLe bath which Amma had prepared. There I was, impatient, shifting from one foot to another, looking all around when my attention was caught by a kid in front of the queue. We shared the same kind of restlessness and impatience to get things done and over with :-)! As I didn’t have anything important other than to wait (and kill time), I concentrated on her chatter – she had such a sweet, lilting voice that it was a wonder how I missed it in the first place (perhaps hunger obliterates all capacities and that includes the power to observe!).
Talking nineteen-to-dozen, she seemed to be so full of chirpiness that it was hard not be buoyed out of the (self-imposed) irritation that I had sunk into. “Mama, why do you need this?” fingering a perfume; “Mama, can you get me that star?” pointing to one shining in the night sky. “Mama, why do animals have tail?” fingering her toy leopard cub :-)….so on and so forth. Her Mom, while balancing the huge parcels and at the same time keeping a close watch on the queue, patiently answered her questions with a smile without getting annoyed.
The people in the queue were amused by the scene and tolerant towards the little bundle of energy. But there was this guy was so very annoyed by the childish prattle that she cut in sharply on one of the questions put forth by the child. Immediately, the child fell silent and, much to my dismay did not open her mouth for the rest of the waiting time, silently sneaking glances at this Hitler! I almost walloped him on the skull...! How obtuse can a person get??
There’s this universal stigma attached to asking questions: Don’t ask unless you are asked to! Why? One of my primary school teachers (in an effort to make me more interactive because back then I was a very shy kid :-)……) always used to encourage me stating that no question was foolish. And I like to add - only the people to whom it is addressed are! At one end we are prompted to ask questions and at the other, berated for asking them aloud ("Don't you even know the answer to this?"). Humph! What kind of hypocrisy is this?
I have always felt that if you need to know anything, you need to ask. The manner in which you frame your questions is entirely yours - sometimes guided and sometime self-taught. Ask questions to satisfy your curiosity, to make use of someone’s expertise, to make headway in a conversation, to know your mistakes, to grow as an individual. The very act of asking does not relegate you to the status of ‘dumb’ or make gaping holes in your ego! But yes, the ‘right’ kind of questions draws the desired results.
No one is born intelligent. But by dint of questioning (and searching for the answers), one can surely aim for a better perspective towards the future.