The Power of Words

"I promised to tell you how one falls in love....

And then she began to read from The Histories -- the story of Candaules and his queen... There are several things one can say. Knowing that eventually I will become her lover, just as Gyges will be the queen's lover and murderer of Candaules. I would often open Herodotus for a clue to geography. But Katherine had done that as a window to her life. Her voice was wary as she read. Her eyes only on the page where the story was, as if she were sinking within quicksand while she spoke.

This is a story of how I fell in love with a woman, who read me a specific story from Herodotus. I heard the words she spoke across the fire, never looking up, even when she teased her husband. Perhaps she was just reading to him. Perhaps there was no ulterior motive in the selection except for themselves. It was simply a story that had jarred her in its familiarity of situation. But a path suddenly revealed itself in real life. Even though she had not conceived it as a first errant step in any way. I am sure.
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She stopped readng and looked up. Out of the quicksand. She was evolving. So power changed hands. Meanwhile, with the help of an anectode, I fell in love.
Words, Caravaggio. They have a power."

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Comments

N.A. said…
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N.A. said…
"...with the help of an anecdote, I fell in love."

There's something definitely about this line which spellbound me! :)

Words sure have a great power... Ever wondered what would the world have been, had there been no words...?

I remember reading a story about a girl who could not both speak and listen. It was a long time back when I read that story. I don't even remember the name or the story itself. However, I still remember that I cried a lot after having read it. That girl at one instance highlights the importance of words in human life. She says that it is only people like her who are capable of truly valuing the very existence of words. I was greatly touched by that story and it was for the first time in life that I actually thought seriously about words.

The thing that I most despise in life is when people use abusive language. It simply makes me feel as if something sacred has been desecrated… Words must be used with extreme care and this is something which, unfortunately, most of us are not careful about.