When you say nothing at all…

This is an extension of something that cropped up in the midst of some comments made on Monday’s post – that in the traditional Asian society, people usually do not express themselves emotionally in word or in action.

Take, for example, this extract from John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”:

When Kino had finished, Juana came back to the fire and ate her breakfast. They had spoken once, but there is not need for speech if it is only a habit anyway. Kino sighed with satisfaction – and that was conversation.

The couple was most probably a traditionally-wedded one following the customs and practices of the indigenous Mexican Indians – they were not married in church despite the fact that they were Catholics. They assumed their roles as husband and wife and were happy, living a poor and simple life together. Even when the husband beat up the wife, she, typical of the traditional subservient wives, accepted it quietly as being part and parcel of her being married to the man:

Although she might be puzzled by these differences between man and woman, she knew them and accepted them and needed them. Of course she would follow him, there was no question of that…She climbed painfully to her feet, and she dipped her cupped palms in the little waves and washed her bruised face with the stinging salt water, and then she went creeping up the beach after Kino.

No word was spoken, no apology, no expression of love – just quiet acceptance.

Those of you who have seen the musical “Fiddler on the roof” would be familiar with the scene where the husband was wondering what love was. His daughters were all running away to get married to the men that they loved instead of the ones the parents had arranged for them themselves or through a matchmaker. He had never said those three little words to his wife and his wife had never said them to him…and the events happening around him prompted him to ask his wife…

The irony, of course, is that marriages in the past lasted a lot longer than those in this present day and age. Whether they did or did not state in no uncertain terms that they would love one another for better or for worse, till death would they part, they stayed together till their dying days.

So what does everybody think? Is it really that important that we express our feelings to one another – saying I love you, hugging and kissing to express affection? Or is it a time-tried and tested fact that you say it best when you say nothing at all…?