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…?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

23 thoughts on “When you say nothing at all…”

  1. morning! eihh, The Pearl seems so familiar to me aye!

    You did that in school eh? I did that too…but in the 60s! πŸ˜€ This is the final year – next year, they will have a new set of texts…so they will not be doing The Pearl anymore.

    1. LOL! yea yea! i found my The Pearl! GEEZ! Just to make sure i didnt take it wrong here. hehe. πŸ™‚ owh ic. so what’s novel gonna replace The Pearl??

      No idea right now…so far, they have not made known their choice of novel – just the poems and short stories and a simple play – not very interesting texts this time around.

    2. What will they be using this time around? Hope the text would be interesting enuff, else the kids would resent literature.

      A lot depends on the teacher – whether he/she can make it interesting and enjoyable but it also depends on the kids. Kids today – if it’s not exam-related, they’re no interested. Really very sad!

      1. 😦 You make the subject interesting half dead oso no use sometimes, Cikgu, cuz the brats themselves refuse to learn to love it. 😦 From the beginning oredi got the mentality ‘stuff stuff sien like mad, etc etc’, liddat, how to make them really learn? *sigh* I have yet to find out how. They are more interested in exam subjects. 😦

        Yup…some take the subject but very few have “it”!!! Hey, sounds like “Many are called, but few are chosen!” LOL!!!

  2. cant remember how i pronounce Juana when i was in secondary school…. Shud pronounce as Hua-na rite?

    Yup…and Hu-say for Jose! Most people here will just pronounce it as spelt.

    1. Wakakakka… those I can pronounce right. But if you ask me to pronounce those footballers and F1 racers’ name…. my tongue will get twisted!

      Not into those…so no problem! Dunno them…and their names! LOL!!!

  3. Ooooohhh! The Pearl~ Ah, the good ol’ days during English lessons πŸ˜€

    One of the most memorable English lessons in school was when Mdm. G forced everyone to watch “My Fair Lady”, much to our excitement and for the rest of the class, they pulled a long face and did their homework for other subjects (wtf! It’s such a nice movie/musical!)

    Eh, out of topic liao. Anyway, I’d like to think that ladies/wives nowadays are highly educated compared to the past generation. When they are highly educated, they tend to have opinions of their own. That is why they are no longer the very submissive-to-husband type.

    In households nowadays, I have seen quite a lot of wives wearing the pants, not the husband. And hence more divorce/separation cases today than in the past. Let us not talk about Hollywood celebrities here, that will be another story for another day.

    However, a woman should know her place well – as in when to express her opinion and when to keep quiet. They always say, cha bor lang kiang tu ho, mai kay kiang πŸ˜€

    Ya…you can write on this for your fortnightly column. I may have a post in a couple of days…and I’ve already bookmarked a clip from youtube for that one – from “My Fair Lady”. It’s one of my favourites musicals… What to do? Your classmates are obviously not very cultured!!! πŸ˜‰

    1. LOL… My fair Lady, from the play Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw. *grinz* I was Eliza Doolittle once when I was in college. *grinz* Great story…

      I can imagine you as Eliza the flower girl…but if it’s Eliza, my fair lady @ the end of the play – ROTFLMAO!!!!!! Audrey Hepburn? Muahahahaha!!!! πŸ˜€

      1. Eeeee! Cikgu so jahat! Say me til liddat!

        Hahahahahaha!!!! So sorry, couldn’t help myself! Just joking, poking fun at you. Jangan marah ya! πŸ˜‰

  4. Sometimes we say it BEST when we say NOTHING at all.. but sometimes, the need to express is there..

    When we can’t say it out loud, we write.. and that is why we blog! lol.. πŸ˜€

    And it certainly looks like everybody thinks that they say it best when they say nothing at all! All morning only 5 comments! 😦

    1. Obviously not everybody. I’m very dangerous when i’m quiet and said nothing at all. My husband is aware of that. LOL…

      Silent dog bites well??? LOL!!!

  5. I was asleep, that’s why ur blog not bising enuff. LOL. The Pearl… I did it in school for literature. Cannot remember… I tink I was in Form 4? Form 5? Cannot remember, but it was a beautiful story, and I liked it very much, along with those stories that I had to do back then… The Necklace, The Lotus Eater… good moral stories…teaches us that good life and luxury comes with a price.

    Yup…the new texts don’t impress me. I think they’re trying to make it very simple, easier for the students. I prefer texts with a lot that can be explored – even a novella like The Pearl. I would take ages to cover 1 page…but many teachers can finish the whole book in no time at all…

    1. Easier and doesn’t have depth to it. 😦

      To cater to the masses, considering the kind of students there are nowadays, except for a handful maybe!

      1. Budak budak zaman sekarang…. tsk… susah mau cakap… not all got the head for such things. 😦

        Haven’t got the head for anything, many of them! Rote learning…and vomit it all out during exams, forgotten all after some time. Kepala kosong!

  6. And speaking of plays and literature… I played Eliza Doolittle on stage when I was in college for the play Pygmalion. Ahh.. the good old days…. I really miss my drama class. One of the best class I’ve attended ever!

    I love teaching Literature – the real stuff…but not many people can “see” beyond the printed text, and even if you explain half-dead, they may not make head or tail out of what you’re talking about. Really sad, the students today – like quite brainless!!!

    1. I teach literature to kids too. And I have to say, sometimes I want to bang my own head to the wall. 😦 The kids tak minat… I not yet open mouth they oredi YAWN. Grrrrrr! Keep tell me just read can d ma, etc etc. OMG!

      And they think it’s like answering those reading comprehension questions!!!

      1. OMG! It’s so, so true… they don’t look beneath the lines. 😦

        It’s not that they don’t… They can’t! They just don’t see! Can’t think that deep…or for that matter, can’t think at all!

  7. I think it is important to enjoy doing things together and have a common interest,compromising and having ‘datenites’ is a must to keep the spark going. I don’t know about back home,over here it is quite a trend for married couples to go out on date-nites. When our kids were younger, our gfs will help each other out by taking turn in babysitting for each other so we can have time to spend quality time together as a couple. I suppose I am just voicing my opinions in general mainly from my generation/the culture here….etc….

    Ooo…so nice, so romantic! LOL!!! Love will keep us alive…

  8. Bro this is one of my fav novel. It is in our literature component right? πŸ˜€

    It is…until the end of this year. They have a new cycle of texts coming up…

  9. Nowadays relationship has to have communication and mutual understandings. Keeping silent will not do anymore. We have become such a verbal creature that we need to express our feelings so that the other party can take a hint!

    Yup…times have changed from the days when the man wore the pants and was the sole-breadwinner in the family and the woman had to depend on him…and she took care of the family and the home and if her husband was not good, that was her misfortune and she had to bear with it and suffer till she died. Now men and women are on equal footing…or usually/most of time, I guess.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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