#PoMoneModi has been a popular Twitter hashtag since yesterday for reasons that I will not attempt to analyse here. The only reason for the use of this hashtag in the title of this note is because it reminded me of a word that is very close to my heart. For those who may not be aware, this hashtag is in Malayalam* and is a conjugation of three words, the second of which, mone^ is the reason for this note.
It is amazing how sometimes you feel so much at ease with a person you just met.
You would have hardly spent a few minutes with him (or her, for that matter) and before you know it, you find yourselves talking of everything under the sun; sharing childhood memories, your likes and dislikes, you may even begin to start treading into deeper philosophical discussions! You get along so well that you sometimes lose track of time even.
It does not happen too frequently with me, but I found myself in this zone when I met one of my brother's friends, not too long ago. He along with his family, were on their way Down Under from Kerala and had stopped by for a few hours, awaiting their connection flight later that night. We spent a few wonderful hours together as families, visited a few sightseeing spots and had a lovely dinner by the beach before we dropped them off at the airport. I remember telling Preethi while coming back from the airport that I felt a strange sense of missing them, though we had only been with them for about seven or eight hours!
I came to understand later that the feeling was mutual - when he called up my brother, he had mentioned how they had also enjoyed the few hours spent with us. He had mentioned something else too - he said that he had been deeply touched by the fact that when we had seen them off at the airport, I had put my hand around his shoulder and had said "see you again, mone". I did not specifically remember doing this and I am pretty sure it was done involuntarily, but apparently it had had a deep impact on him. My brother recounted his friend telling him it was not often that even his dad called him that!
Now my brother who knows me slightly better than most people, jokingly said that his friend did not realise that I do it all the time and to most people I meet! I had laughed off that comment from my brother, because what he had said was indeed true - I do like to put my hand around younger shoulders and I do like to call them mone.
But I did not mention to my brother the real reason that I find myself doing this so very often.
I did not tell him that when I was a young man myself, all of twenty-five years old, and had moved to a large city in India for my first job, I had been introduced to a man, who probably just ten or fifteen years older than me, had called me mone. This man was the brother-in-law of a close friend. From the very first day that he met me, I don't remember him calling me anything else, I don't remember him calling me ever by my name - it was always the endearing mone.
I still remember the impact that the small word had on me.
As my brother said, he probably addressed many others too in the same manner, but for me, it was a big deal. In that large crowded city, here was someone who was ready to call me just as my parents and others who loved me would have called me. With just that one word, he became family - at least deep down in my heart.
I remember deciding back then, that I would strive to do the same on my own, whenever possible. And I have indeed made an effort to keep true to my promise, as much as I can. To the point where as my brother noted, I do it to most people that I meet!
Calling someone mone is something that costs you nothing; but to the person who hears it, it can be very precious. I have been there and I have realised it first-hand. There are other ways of showing someone that you care - a smile, a gentle touch, a phone call; all these may not mean much to us, but to the one at the receiving end, it can mean the world.
I do not deny the fact that it will be ideal if we can all do such acts sincerely and consciously, with conviction in our hearts as to why we are doing them, but I guess at most times it really does not matter. Even if we are doing it unconsciously and maybe even involuntarily, if it warms someone's heart, I dare say it will have been worth it.
*Malayalam is the native language spoken by the people of the tiny state of Kerala in India and interestingly is the only language name (at least that I am aware of) which happens to be a palindrome - it reads the same forward and backward!
^mone - pronounced "monay", (root word - mon) is the endearing way of calling someone "son" in Malayalam. It can either be used in a general sense on its own or can be used as a suffix to the usual name, as in Dinumon.