There is an old saying that ‘empty vessels make a lot of noise’. But not every empty vessel makes noise, some are good in keeping secrets.
I had two unique sets of friends. One, who spoke a lot and would often end up saying all that he was asked to keep it to himself. And my another friend, who has been with me silently throughout and chooses not to speak, unless he is forced to speak. Sometimes, it is difficult to imagine him sitting quietly for long hours and not uttering even a single word. His silence sometimes irritated me also. He could sit quite for hours and yet do nothing. He was a non-existent.
But, with my talkative friend, I always had this fear of spilling the beans anytime. Particularly, when you tell him to shut his mouth and not to speak a word to anyone about an incident. But ironically, I would soon get the narrative of the incident by an anonymous with a lot of distorted facts. I always looked at him like a completely filled vessel that is ready to overflow any time.
But one incident made me believe in my silent vessel (my friend) as someone who could be excellent in keeping secrets.
I remember an incident when three of us were driving on a highway, coming back from a meeting, and met with an accident. The accident was not severe and only the car had got little damaged. The Blue Bulls in Rajasthan are a common sight and once on the road, they have all the reasons to run here and there. One such enthusiastic Blue Bull got onto the bonnet of my car and the bonnet got damaged. The damage was minor and easily repairable.
I told both of them to remain silent and strictly do not talk about it either in office or at my home. I was serious and my voice meant all the meanings and indicated repercussions.
While my silent friend didn’t even bother to nod his head on my request, my other friend started discussing with me about another consequence - what “if” someone asks ?
This “if” became my worst fear. What “if” he speaks ? What “if” he spills the beans and narrates the accident in most dramatic manner ? What “if” he decides not to remain silent ?
What “if” I throw him on the highway without any money and take his mobile also ?
We reached office in sometime and the first thing that my talkative friend uttered was to the security officer – “see don’t allow anyone to see this car, it just met with an accident. We are all safe. Though it is minor accident but still don’t talk about it to anyone. He is getting the car repaired.”
Before I could park my car and reach my cabin, the security officer had already told few more people about the incident and some of the gossip mongers had already assembled in my cabin.
Not just this, on the other side - inside the gents toilet, my talkative friend was narrating the incident to a different set of people with all dramatization. He only became silent once his vessel had emptied, and the people had started leaving.
Some people also went to see my damaged car. Some even questioned my driving skills and spoke about how careless and absent minded I am once I am on the highway.
On the other side, my silent friend kept his attitude of remaining silent. No one approached him and no one asked him anything. They all knew that he wont tell, so why to ask. Why give impression of knowing a lot and yet not tell. Rather, be seen as knowing nothing so nothing to spill as well.
Most of the people, who genuinely or pretend to be knowing a lot of secrets, demonstrate to be among the few, who are very close to the management. They would talk openly of knowing a lot of confidential information but would insist on not divulging any - "I know everything but can't talk. I have been asked to keep my mouth shut and not to speak.". Most of such people start spilling information over a cup of tea and some refreshment in their cabin.
Ironically, every secret document has a photocopy and is also available on different mails, marked in the subject line as 'secret document' !!!
But, my silent friend taught me one good lesson - "Secrets need to be shared with only those vessels (people) who are empty and can store your information. The already filled vessels (people) tend to spill any information that is shared. They do not have space to keep any further information. They cannot control themselves, particularly, when they know there is an evident mileage and visibility. They believe that people should recognize them as an 'origin' of secret and confidential information."
This incident made me believe that that empty vessels make less noise than filled vessels.
I prefer taking my silent friend on the long drives but he is boring too. On the other hand, the talkative friend keeps narrating so many gossips and distorted secrets, which certainly I want to hear knowing that most of them are for entertainment, and he keeps me smiling too.
The author of this narrative, Pavan Kaushik, is a story teller, author and speaker.