30 August 2009
The Dusuns are really good at downplaying emotions/events. It is not considered good to say something as it really is. It's even worst if someone makes a mountain out of a molehill. There is a word, 'ronob' that means exaggerate, that connotes something negative in the society. A person who is 'koronob' or 'momuronob' (exaggerating) is scowled upon by the people.
I didn't really appreciate the value of downplaying emotions until the day my grandfather died. Being far away, my family members had to break the news over the phone. They did it as emotionless as they could using the standard idiom to explain death: "aa no nakatahan do toruol dau" (he couldn't bear his pain any longer), (except that my dad said it in Malay, the language we use to communicate to each other).
Giving the news in such a way, I realized later, is very considerate. The person hearing it has the time to slowly digest the information, before the big boulder that is grief hits. At least one is given the time to delay one's reaction. I didn't get into shock (perhaps partly because I knew he had been really ill for a few months), and at least I managed to get myself to a private place before the waves of emotions crushed me.
And so I really do appreciate their knack of downplaying emotions. It does make me wonder though, whether something is worst than it is made to sound each time I hear the news that a family member or a person I know is not well...