These opinion shunners, even when pressed to take sides, would shrug and politely change the topic or dive into the safe rabbit hole of, ‘I don’t know.’
My friend was going to have an arranged marriage and he took his sister to meet his future wife. As the siblings drove back home he asked her with all the enthusiasm of a little puppy, ‘What do you think?’ She said, ‘I don’t know’. It sent him into a loop. Did that mean she didn’t like the girl and was being polite? Was his choice not great? Was there something he wasn’t seeing?
He called me in panic and insisted I meet her the next day. I did and at the end of our meeting, I told him frankly that I liked her. She was warm, funny, quirky and they seemed to get along well together. At the wedding, his sister and I were sitting together and because I am the sort who asks uncomfortable questions, I enquired why she didn’t want to give her opinion.
Her fingers, which were busy mixing some rasam into the rice on a leaf, paused, ‘I didn’t want to be blamed if anything went wrong’ and then she continued with her slow, deliberate merging of red into white.
I was flabbergasted. This was her brother and she didn’t want to commit herself. I prodded a little deeper to figure out whether she had an opinion she didn’t want to tell him. She shook her head and fed me one of those bland lines I would like to ban forever, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ The sub-context to this line was ‘I don’t care. He will have to live with the decision. It is after all not my life.’
There are lots of people I know like her and I make sure I don’t meet them too often. They don’t care about what’s happening in the world and give stupid excuses such as, ‘I am not into politics’ or my favourite, ‘I am not those activists types’.
I was talking about this to one of my fence-sitter friends and she wanted to know how it will make a difference if she has an opinion on a certain ruling. I attempted an explanation gently, “You are a part of this large, powerful, always evolving monster called public opinion, which is changing and shaping conversations, judgements and society. If we allow things to happen without question, we will all end up living in a world somebody else has fashioned and made with their opinion. And this may not be to our liking.” What do you think?
Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on newsable.com. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at https://twitter.com/unopenedbottle. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 6:34 PM IST