Is Language so Essential for Communication?
Once, Petro Grafias, a Spanish poet from Andalusia, a hilly region in Southern Spain was forced to live in exile in Scotland. He was staying in an empty castle owned by some lord. Every evening he used to visit the local tavern to sit and drink his beer alone in silence as he did not know the local language nor did he have any friend. This lonely customer attracted the attention of the tavern keeper. One night after all other customers left, he begged Petro Grafias to stay on and later he joined and both just sat and went on drinking with no words spoken silently far into the night. The invitation became a daily ritual and later Grafias was welcomed into the house of the tavern keeper with no wife and family. Slowly over the next few days their tongues loosened up. Grafias started telling him about the Spanish war, with exclamations, oaths and curses that were typically Andalusian. The Scot who listened all this in religious silence, not understanding a single word, also started pouring his heart out, about his wife who had left him and his sons serving in the army whose photos lined up the wall near the fireplace. Of course Grafias did not understand a word, either. Soon it became a regular feature for the two lonely men to vent out their deep feelings to each other in their own language and what was more, this sitting together and sharing made their bonding grow stronger and stronger. Finally when the day came for the poet Petro Grafias to leave Scotland, they said good-bye, drinking and talking, embracing and weeping.
‘Petro’, Pablo asked his friend often, “What do you think he was telling you?” “I never understood a word, Pablo, but when I listened to him I always felt I was sure that I knew what he meant. And again when I talked I was sure that he also knew what I meant.” –K. Natarajan