Two of my loyal readers wrote to me today, asking me why haven't I been posting over the last couple of days. To be quite honest, I wasn't in the mood to write. Besides, I reckoned that since the whole of Malaysia has been engrossed in Mohd Saiful Bukhari's anus over the last week, no one would notice a few days' break on my part.
A different friend wrote me an email in response to my email to him earlier, and he raised something about my having the "guts to be vocal." He said he admired me for that. He said most people (especially Asians) are brought up to be polite rather than honest.
It occurred to me that he is not the first person who told me that. And so this gives me an excuse to tell a bit of my story.
Some people have criticized me for my bluntness when giving my opinions. I have also made "impolite" comments in other blogs. Since there are a number of people who've told me the same thing, then I suppose there must be some truth in it.
I have been criticized, for example, because of the way I expressed myself against my own father with his peculiarities. I have also been criticized for raising some things I dislike about my mother. Sometimes the truth sucks, and many of us would rather sweep the rubbish under the carpet. The truth hurts too. And the hardest thing to do is to draw the limits when balancing between politeness and bluntness.
One of my nieces stole my money when she was still a young girl. It was just a small amount, but I was concerned about her anyway. For a while, I was debating with myself whether to tell her mother about this problem. My sister had high expectation of her daughter, and perhaps because of parental instinct, she's very sensitive whenever any of us gave negative comments about her children. Most parents believe that they know their children the most, you see, and it is not often easy to shake that belief.
Then later on when I was talking with another sister, I realised that the rest in my family had known of the stealing habit for some time. When I asked them why didn't they tell her mother about it, they said that they pity the mother—that she would become very disappointed. Besides, there was that risk of her mother not believing us. I took a while but eventually told my sister about her daughter. She was indeed devastated, but I had the feeling that she did not believe me.
Years later, when my niece was all grown up and was in college, she was caught stealing the cellphone of her room mate. In fact, that was not the first time she did it. Several cellphones went missing until someone actually followed her secretly to the shop where she tried to sell the phone. Her parents pleaded with the dean for leniency. She was eventually suspended from school for a couple of weeks.
And now I see something "not quite right" in my 5-year-old nephew. I am not a child specialist, but I do read a bit about children. I see some peculiar signs in this boy—those which suggest autism. I happen to know that early intervention can help in autistic children. But as I said, I am not a child specialist. I am usually very blunt with my siblings. Hell, I am blunt with most people! Yet I don't really know how to tell my sister about her son.
I can of course be nice and polite and leave things as there are. That would probably save my sister the heartache of knowing that her son has a problem, although I honestly hope that I am wrong. Like I said, sometimes the truth hurts.
And then the other option is that I just tell her point blank and ask her to bring her son to see a specialist as soon as possible. One possible outcome is that the child is found to be normal after all and my sister may think that I'm just wasting her time. The other possible outcome is that my suspicion is correct and the specialist can help to remedy the problem a bit.
From my experience talking to people, I found that most of them prefer me to be truthful rather than polite. So don't tell them that they look skinny if actually I think they're obese. Don't say that they look good with short hair, when actually they look awful. Nevertheless, most of them can't handle the truth. When told the truth, they become hurt and offended.
So let's hear it from you all. If you have a choice between the two, would you prefer me to be polite or blunt?