The Nayers, Ayers, Soothsayers and Liars

The nayers, ayers, soothsayers and liars – if you know them avoid them

In my entire life so far, 62 years and 93 days as of this writing ( you would have figured out when I wrote this but that is okay, I do not mind), I have been navigating between four types of people. Mind you, all mean well all the time. However, it took almost 60 years to realize that I had to decide whom to follow and whom not to. Now before you begin to wonder what I am talking about, let me make it easy for you. Grab your cup of coffee or tea.

The Nayers

These are those who are anti-you. Good people mind you. They believe that you are incapable of many things and hence always advise you not to do something that you may propose. Now realize that these people can take many forms. A very concerned mother who is figuring out how to say no to your request of a bucket of ice cream when she has prepared लौकी की दाल (gourd daal), a father who is worried about the money that is needed for the rocket to the moon that you want, etc. These things happen. Your elder sister would say that you are too young to handle her pencil box because she is afraid you would end up sharpening all her pencils to nothing.

They may come across as killjoys, pessimistic, anti-establishment but the result is always the same. “NO” is the hallmark. Imagine all those visits to the amusement parks you missed, all those pets you could not have, those late nights movies that you could not see because the next day was Monday. 

Beware of such people. The best natural method to overcome this situation is to suffer from Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. It is a great defense mechanism. Try it sometime.

Remember the frog that could climb a tall tree because it was deaf!  For me these sorts of people were more special – coming from the Iyer stock – the nayers became for me the “No Iyers”

The Ayers

These are the typical yes-men of the other kind. They are always agreeing to your proposal and are the classic eager beavers. Wanting to be a team player they nod their heads to all your proposals and perhaps make you are special. With them around your life is a breeze. If you see a kid like Dudley Hursley, be sure their parent was the typical Ayers. 

You are likely to egg on for all ventures and end up in all sorts of trouble. It is usually difficult to make out their intentions. Are they trying to take you up the garden path by any chance? These could be the well-meaning team player but secretly planning your embarrassment, till you end up imitating a beetroot, or like Rudolph with a red nose at that, I may add.

In hindsight, the nayers may be more tolerable than ayers. 

Note: Remember the nayers and ayers have no consideration for the goodness of their actions. They oppose and agree because that is all they can do. Their adrenalin increases with each nay and aye respectively.

The Soothsayers

However, the soothsayers are a different lot. They always tell the truth – a pathological truth-teller if there was ever one. The closest I have come across is in the fictional realm of Sheldon Cooper or his idol Spock. Being factually correct is more important to them. So, they may be both nayers and ayers. You may be tempted to classify them optimists – but no. They will tell the truth. Very practical. Statistically driven in the worst case. You would go to them for advice only if you are ready for any outcome. The truth as we all know can hurt. So be very careful when asking them for advice. They may lay bare your innermost fears surgically precise and clinically correct. 

The Liars

Now, this lot is the most dangerous. They are pathological liars. This means they will always tell lies. Very often you may be happy with these lot. “Am I looking fat?” is not a question that is a candidate to this ilk. Since they tell lies, it is often necessary to frame the question right with them. Like truth, lies come in the proverbial many shades of grey. Which one would you take for granted?

All together

But these four types cannot be compartmentalized into four boxes. Any one of your friends, relations, a spouse can assume a combination of the types. The challenge in life I faced, was to know what avatar the conversationalist who was facing me was adopted in a particular transaction. Therein lay the rub.  It took me as I mentioned earlier 62 whole years and not to forget the 93 days. So, it is possible that the nayer-soothsayer may dissuade from your dreams with truth while the ayer-liar will propel you towards your dream with lies. Your call finally. A two-by-two quadrant may help you visualize it better – but I leave it to you as homework.


– Eswaran Narsimhan (NU Faculty)