Sometimes two markedly different cultures find a word for a feeling that eludes the rest of us.
Today I want to introduce you to the Tagalog word, Gigil, which describes the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone for no other reason than because you love them.
My guess is that this is what gives way to the grand old tradition of Roughhousing, in which fathers play rough with their kids, daughters and sons alike, and both parties thoroughly enjoy the experience.
You’d never hug your iPhone, no matter how dear it was to you, but people and pets are known to bring out these instincts in us, where emotion is so heightened that the only way to express it is by squeezing and crushing someone and hoping they get the hint that they are loved.
Have you ever experienced Gigil or behaved Gigil?
The Indonesian word, Gemas, is a close cousin of Gigil. But Gemas is not limited to those you love or cherish. You might, for instance, see a kid in a pram, and think they are oh-cho-chweet and that the only way in which you can suitably express your admiration is by pinching their cheeks or hugging and squeezing them until they cry for help.
Long ago, I had my first experience of a more serious version of Gemas.
I knew someone who found babies irresistible. She loved infants and toddlers alike so much that she would say to any unsuspecting baby she met, “You are so cute, I could eat you.”
The first time I heard her words, I was so horrified that I made a mental note not to let her within two hundred feet of my own offspring, whenever they happened to come along.
Given her stated intentions, there was bound to be trouble.
Have you been the victim of Gemas?
Which brings me to Gondogol, another kind of trouble. Gondogol is a Bengali word (from India), which describes the kind of trouble that you can’t put a finger on.
When Hercule Poirot goes around sniffing at the scene of a crime, he knows that some kind of Gondogol is afoot, but he has no clue about the nature of the Gondogol.
When habitually hyperactive and noisy children suddenly turn very quiet, parents begin to fret; they know that some serious Gondogol is going to be unleashed, and that it won’t be pretty
Have you ever sensed that Gondogol is about?