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Art of Speaking

Posted in සාහිත්‍ය by on February 10, 2013

Nandadasa-Kodagoda_by_saamantha

My wife says that I should talk on Radio. You may think that she was praising my talents. But I am smarter than that. If I talk on radio, undoubtedly she would turn the radio off.

A few days ago while I was talking with Priyanka Kahawanugoda who writes in “Kadapatha”, over the phone, she spoke about the way Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda had delivered his speeches.

This name suddenly took my mind back to 1990’s.

Those days, Whenever I heard the professor’s voice on Television or especially on Radio I lent my ears attentively. I did not see him as the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and I did not see him as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo; I respected him as a truly kind hearted human being who knew what he was all about.

From the way he expressed himself I often imagined him as a mature man walking seriously on a very narrow, mountain path. Also imagine how a mother feeds fish to her own child. She removes the bones with extra care. So she filters the harmful out of the nourishing in advance. Likewise, Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda showed the importance of paying extra care when handling words and how to avoid meaninglessness at the same time.

Japanese see sushi representation as a work of art. Nobu, a Japanese sushi chef is considered as one of the world famous sushi chefs. The great secret behind Nobu’s success is simplicity. Rather than adding ingredients to his menus, he does the opposite. He removes whatever he thinks unimportant. As such, Nobu’s dishes are considered as the art of elimination. When Professor Kodagoda was talking I noticed the same techniques used by him. Rather than just uttering words, he thought, “What needn’t I say ?”

A long time ago I heard a speech given by a Tibetan monk, speaking about Meditation. At the end of the program one of the participants asked a question.

“Master, What is Meditation ?”

As a reply the monk asked a question too. “Isn’t there a gap between thoughts ?”

The man replied, “There is Sir.”

“Prolong those gaps – That is Meditation.” said the monk.

Professor Kodagoda talked slowly. Deliberately paused in between his thoughts. According to Claude Debussy, “Music is the space between the notes”. Professor Kodagoda had a great passion for music. Perhaps, hadn’t he used his knowledge of music while making his wonderful speeches ?

I know that I talk comparatively fast. If I can, I will try to minimise my talking and use that time to listen. In writing too we are taught to edit until nothing else can be removed. But I think removing words isn’t enough. We have to insert space for the readers to reflect and process. So, I should insert a space now. Shouldn’t I ?

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