I can be a very mean-spirited (translated: bitchy) writer if I want to. I guess that’s the double-edged sword of having a facility for words. I do not consider myself an eloquent writer, but I do know I am good at stating things clearly and succintly to get my message across to whoever I am communicating with. Oh, how I envy those who have such gift of prose, but I have long been convinced by my Mom that you have to be content with what you have. We each have our talent to use, and we cannot be like everyone else. Amen.
So I know I can inflict pain if I wanted to with a few strokes on the keyboard. I can also get myself in a whole lot of trouble. When I feel like I’m living dangerously, I try to draft my thoughts before sending them through cyberspace. With modern technology, you don’t know where that e-mail will land and who will get to see it eventually. It will be immortalized in cyberspace no matter how you delete it from your system or mailbox. I don’t want my words to haunt me by indiscreetly hitting the send button before I could think about the repercussions of what I am saying — so I am grateful for the “save as draft” function of the web.
Unlike the spoken word which is subject to human recollection unless duly recorded, it is rather difficult if not impossible to back pedal and take back something that had been written or said. The written word is also rather tricky to interpret in terms of emotional context. I suppose that is the reason why we resort to writing in ALL CAPS to stress a point (or to shout in print), more so when a flood of exclamation points will not do to give it the proper emphasis.
Finally, whereas you can literally say “You said..” in reference to something one heard, when you apply this to something that was read, it is often but an interpretation or conclusion arrived at after reading several sentences.
So if someone writes:
“There won’t be a next time because we’re done taking care of your mom. WE’RE DONE. We’ve taken care of your mom – and yes, she’s YOUR mom, x x x from when she suffered multiple heart attacks until yesterday. But, from now on, she’s gonna stay in your house. Congratulations. Now you can hug her and squeeze her all you want now.
x x x WE’RE DONE. Take all of her stuff and she can live with you. What’s that? You don’t have the space? Ah, so sorry, that’s not our problem.”
.. do tell me if you can take the statements above to mean anything more than that the writer is throwing someone out of their house.
Talk about putting your foot in your mouth, or worse, shoving your keyboard down your throat. (Wrong parallel, I think — but that’s what I felt like doing when I read those statements.)
After several exchanges more, we get a clarificatory e-mail address to the Mom referred to above to the effect that:
What was said was since X constantly accused us of not taking care of Mom, then this is his chance, he can take you back. That does not mean you are not welcome in the house.
A little too late in coming, coming as it did after the harm was done.
I am writing this under the category Motherhood because it was a conversation between children who inadvertently hurt their Mother the most as they threw punches at each other. And this is a lady who gave up a teaching career in Manila when the US Embassy finally called to say her family’s immigration papers were finally approved, and she took her two children to start life anew here in the United States.
She saw both children through college and held the family together even as her husband passed away a decade earlier. In the end, it boiled down to a secret she carried as a Mom who loved her children equally and without fail.
But the lesson here is not a lesson of motherhood but of good manners. Fighting, even when it is fighting dirty, has rules. Otherwise you end up hurting everyone in sight, even those who deserve your utmost respect even when you are down and out.
And one must never forget, words, too, can cut through the heart.