I was watching a movie the other day, and the word ‘bigotry’ came up. I went for almost 4 decades without ever hearing that word, and then all of a sudden, the word was everywhere. In news articles, movie dialogues, forwarded WhatsApp messages. I had read history books, had read many books about World War II, and was always reasonably interested in new words. Yet – here it was. When I found out the meaning, I felt a bit silly for not knowing the word. Suddenly, I could label many thinking patterns (and people) as bigoted, where previously I’d gone without labeling them. (Was that a good thing, a bad thing or not a thing at all?)
Then a few days later, I heard that the word of the year in 2022 was ‘Gaslighting‘. Another term that I had never heard of growing up, and yet, here it was – annoyingly present and able to pinpoint a particular trait.
That got me thinking about the words I’d probably used the most this year, and it was not a word that came to mind, but a phrase.
A phrase that I’d used over and over again in my professional capacity, or while describing the uncertainties of our world: “Let’s see!”
I remember the old pater using a Tamil word, Paappom (paarpom) – meaning “Let’s see! “ – shortened from பார்க்கலாம்
Paappom annoyed us. It usually meant we did not get a ‘Yes’, and every child knows that not getting a ‘Yes’ immediately meant that reason could swoop in, and could sway our ask toward ’No’, which was unacceptable of course. I mean, why would you want to think about taking us out for an ice-cream? That only meant the rains could come, someone could catch a cold, or the interest to go to the ice-cream store could wane.
Paappom was also an ambiguity. A pendulum that could swing between this-and-that and you never knew where it could stop at decision-time.
Paappom could bring about positive outcomes but that required waiting and delayed gratification.
So, paappom was a true mystifier.
Yet, this year, I found myself using Paappom’s English equivalent, “Let’s see!”, so often, I felt like a bit of a pendulum myself.
It meant, I wasn’t sure of the next step: should I take a next step, should I wait? What if something changed, that I had not anticipated? If ever there was a year encompassing all these qualities, it was this one. So, I paappom-ed. A lot.
As life goes on, I find myself ‘paappom’-ing more and more often, with my touching faith in luck and providence that time will sort things out (especially unpleasant situations – but I can assure you that seldom happens.)
Anyway, 2022 being a ‘Let’s see!” Year means that we do have to see what 2023 looks like.
A colleague once told me that their family thinks of words to live by in the upcoming year during Christmas holidays. If they chose, “Excellent!”, they answered everyone who asked them how they were with ‘Excellent’ for the next year. Isn’t that an excellent idea?
I asked the children for possible words the year I heard this, and promptly abandoned the exercise, for the words that came up were horrendous, cringe-worthy and frankly ridiculous. (The nourish-n-cherish household, I tell you!)
Anyway, what words would you like to choose for 2023?