I remember this one time I met a maiden on a train. She was sobbing. Being a person of good culture I inquired as to the source of her melancholy and whether there was any way in which I could placate her if not remedy the cause of anguish altogether. She turned toward me and after a pause articulated something gesturing violently. It was a tongue alien to me. I bade her good day, which I am certain she did not understand, and went in search for another seat.
As the train pulled away from the station, I opened a newspaper. There was a small news item, on a page, the number of which ran into double digit, about the possibility of re-introducing cheetahs to India. This was big. I mean Big Foot big. Cheetahs sprinted for the last time in India in 1947, before a Maharaja shot them down. Now, a commoner will think that news of such gravity aught be splashed over the front page instead of affair of some speculator having fled the country after amassing a fortune through unsavoury means – a story all too familiar with the only novelty being the name of antagonist. I am no commoner. My train of thought went on an entirely different track.
The memory of my encounter with the damsel in distress was still as fresh in my memory as the first morning of Spring. While she did not share a common vocabulary with me, she and I did have something in common – we were human beings and therefore expressed emotions in more or less the same way. Although we could not communicate verbally, her tears were enough to convey emotional duress; much the same as a cat purring betrays affection. I have yet to come across a person who expresses sorrow with laughter or cat that hisses when content. But do cats from different regions share the same meowbulary?
Let’s say a Bengal tiger was to come face to face with a Sumatran tiger. A growl and purr will be understood by both but will they be able to discuss the weather? This is a question that has been haunting me ever since the encounter.
Picture Credit: Glenda