When Taunt's a Motivator

1944. A bare-footed, poor non-white boy was playing on a beach in Barbados. All his friends were white Brits. He'd a small, broken bat. One of the white boys made fun of his bat and broke it. The teary-eyed boy pledged to have a real bat and thrash the whites with it. He didn't have to thrash them with a bat, for one day he'd become so great as a cricketer that he'd thrash the English bowlers as well as bowlers all over the world at his will. He was Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers, the greatest cricketer the game has ever seen. There was a boy, who'd thick fingers, too thick for a painter. His friends made fun of his fat fingers, even his teachers taunted. Stung by their taunts, he decided to become a painter and a great one at that. He was Peter Paul Reubens. A humdrum-looking young man was playing piano. He couldn't afford to have a piano, so he used to go to a nearby music school to play piano for an hour by paying a fixed amount. One day he was so engrossed in playing that he lost track of time.

 The owner of the music school came to him to remind that it was already more than an hour. The young man was deaf and dumb. The owner wrote on a piece of paper: ' You can't have your piano. Neither can you hear. Why do you waste your time and the time of other students, who can hear and appreciate the music? ' That deaf and dumb student never went to that music school. Doubly determined, he bought a third-hand piano and started practising on it. Needless to say, he was Beethoven. Many a time, taunts and subtly sarcastic remarks egg a person on and make him/ her all the more committed to realising his/ her objective. ' At times, taunts bring out a person's latent potential,' observed a famous psychologist. Chanakya rightly said, 'Vyangya prarochitam pratividhan' (Taunts are the best motivators). 

Mahakavi Bhushan, one of the greatest Hindi poets of medieval India was an indolent lotus-eater type of idle young man till the age of 24. He lived the life of a parasite on his brother, who loved him very much. One day while serving him food, his sister-in-law said something piercing. Bhushan left home and returned after twelve years with his epic 'Lalit lalaam', which he dedicated to his sister-in-law and wrote to her, ' But for your taunt, I'd still have been living here and eating.' Tulsidas would not have been Tulsidas, but for his wife's sarcasm who admonished him to sublimate his love for Ram instead of her. But sarcasm can also destroy families and dynasties. It was Draupadi's intemperate remark, " Andhe ke andhe hi hote hain" (A blind begets blind) that instigated Duryodhan so much that his seething anger led to the carnage at Kurukshetra and destruction of a dynasty. Taunt's a motivator but it could also be a destroyer if it's scathing and mordant. So remember, when next time you taunt, it should be soothing and not so caustic. In your sarcasm, you can be scathing.          

                                              -----Sumit Paul