Among the profusion of peculiarities existing in the human nature, the one about the tendency of the individual to allow whispers to make an impact on him appears, to me, singular in its ability to produce resounding efftects. Carefully contrived and carelessly prescribed by the malicious and the mischievous, whispers can be powerful instruments of causing a great deal of stir.
This is aptly illustrated by a tit-bit I once read about an Ad Man who, upon reaching heaven, was stopped at the gate. “Sorry,” the gatekeeper told him, “but we have got our quota from your profession. In order to gain entry, you will have to convince one of the others to leave.” “All right,” replied our man, “just give me a day.” At the end of the day, every one of the advertising agents in heaven had departed. When asked by the stunned gatekeeper how he did it, the Ad Man replied, “It was easy. I just whispered to one of the old buddies that the Devil was starting a new agency. Incidentally, I am not staying either. You can never tell about these rumours.”
Human psyche would appear to be curiously amenable to mysterious suggestions inherent in a whisper. But is the phemenon really as peculiar as it seems? The literal meaning of whisper lends itself quite admirably to figuratve connotations. Defined as “to say something using the breath, but no vibration of the vocal cords (the sound box)”, a whisper, upon mention, conjures up visions of an act of transmission of message by a deliverer who is exerting himself just enough to enable his breath to carry over the message to the receiver. A hint of mystique and silent strength is plain in the definition itself. Little wonder, thus, that people tend to respond in perplexing ways when whispered to.
Whispers have been in the employ of those wishing to have their ulterier motives subserved for as long as man has possessed verbalising ability. And what an unusual modification of the act of verbalising is the art of whispering that illustrates how the addtion of an element of subtlety can result in accumulation of strength.
The one category of individuals who have known for ages the exploitative potential of whispers is the politicians. From improving one’s own image to bringing about the downfall of the opponents are a range of activities where they benefit from appropriately launched whispering campaigns. The historic honour of bringing this technique to perfection could well belong to our own wily old fox “Chanakya” – the philosopher, guide and mentor of Maurya King Chandra Gupt – who employed the four W’s (viz. wine, women, wealth and whispers) to subjugate the enemies of Maurya empire. Untold permutations and innovations have since revolutionised the field.
Another well-known arena where people know how to keep interest in things alive the whispering way is the showbiz. The cine world has demonstrated like nothing else the tremndeous supporative value whispers can provide to sustain an entire industry. Remarks beginning “Did you hear that … ” giving informatiom on who is doing what, dressing how and going out with whom, when whispered in movie magazines & shows, intrigue and induce hordes of movie fans to unburden their pockets at the cinema booking windows. It has not fallen to the lot of any architect to design a more effective whispreing gallery than the circulation of movie-mags.
Most business at stock exchanges and race courses runs solely on the wheels of whispers. A useful word here or a careless whisper there makes all the difference between shareholders walking on air and several thousand punters being taken for a ride at the same time on a single horse.
Those engaged in the game of flirtation have always had a field day playing with whispers. All over the world, immeasurable weightage is imparted to the claims of the beaux by the whisphering of sweat nothings.
And before concluding, may I reveal to you a practical example of the might of a whisper? The publication of this piece was helped by whispering in appropriate ears that a couple of other papers would be quite willing to lap it up. The Editor, however, deserves kudos for playing the game sportingly and letting my whispers reach you!