A to Z Challenge

M for Mamihlapinatapei

Mamihlapinatapei

Language: Yagan

Meaning: An unspoken yet really profound look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start

“Between what is said and not meant and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost” – Khalil Gibran

I did not have any dearth of options of foreign words starting with M. It seems to be the most popular letter for words from various languages to begin with. But I chose this particular word because it connected with me on a different level. In this modern age, a lot of things are promised with no follow ups, a lot of things are left unsaid and in a hurry to make a living, everyone is forgetting to live.

But there are times when two people want to say a lot, and though there might have been many conversations previously, when it comes to certain things, there are no words that can express the heart’s desire. It is at these times that eyes speak. The understanding is there, so is the reluctance. The Yagan language has a word for this look, the one whose depth the English language was too busy to coin a term for.

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Flash Fiction #13

Mythili looked at the decorations dispassionately from her vantage point in the first floor. She noted the bustling of the people and smirked to herself. What was it about weddings that made people scram to and fro with a sense of utmost importance? Why is it that people usually got excited around weddings, no matter whose wedding it was? She looked down at the old lady who looked so puffed up with importance. But Mythili did not fail to follow her with her eyes. All that the old dame had done all day was walk about the hall ordering people around and rearranging things others placed on the main mandap.

“Mythili!” She heard her mother call from behind her. Turning so fast she cricked her neck, what she saw made her freeze. She wet her lips nervously. Madan. Didn’t he say he would meet her only on the day of the wedding? Wasn’t he due the next day? But when her mom left them alone, Mythili locked eyes with him. He looked at her for a few seconds and shrugged, at least as best as he could. His gaze travelled downward and his mouth curled up with a sardonic smile.

“Guess they are preparing a lot… I never expected it would be this… big… I mean, I did say we could finish it in a local temple… Why these many people have arrived and made a huge affair out of it, especially considering the condition we are in…” He trailed off with another helpless shrug, Mythili noted absently.

“Did it ever occur to you that it might be every girl’s dream to have a wedding with her family and people surrounding her, no matter what the condition is?” Mythili feigned hurt, making him look up at the sudden change in her tone. Seeing her teary eyes, his heart beat quickened, as he tried to swallow his surprise and react properly. After all, it was she who insisted on a simple quiet affair. Just as he almost hyperventilated, Mythili grinned and stuck her tongue out, giving him a wink.

Sighing in relief, he mimed hitting her playfully on her nose, and she mimed getting him back on his.

With the wedding looming near, Mythili was prone to misgivings until the last possible moment. But as the muhurat drew closer and he saw him resplendent in his traditional attire, being wheeled towards the mandap, she had never felt prouder of herself. Defying tradition, she stood erect while he sat in his wheel chair. His hands seemed shaky and nervous, and like a quick movie, Mythili saw the past events pass before her eyes. It had taken a lot to convince him, but now here he was, and she wondered what she could do to allay his fears.

His love for languages struck her mind and she leaned closer, whispering, “Look at me all you want, but mamihlapinatapei won’t be apt here… It is only you who is reluctant to start, not me!” The grin in his face was proof she had succeeded.

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