In my childhood when I learnt about opposite words, male / female; boy / girl or man / woman figured most frequently. However, as I grew older I came to know that they are only complementary to each other and not opposites. Yet we use these words as opposites in our daily life.
Is White really the opposite of black? It seems that the distance between these words have thinned down. For example, I went to the market recently to buy fish. One vendor asked Rs. 85 a kilo, another was asking for Rs. 90. I told the second fellow, Why are you selling it in black, when the original price is Rs. 80. Really, only for Rs.5 a kilo the same market becomes a white or black. SImilarly many would agree that White Men’ are not opposite to ‘Black Men’.
We know that day and night are opposites. We work in daytime and sleep in the night. Is this true? What about US call centre employees in India. What about those guys who greet their US clients ‘Good Morning‘ while they say ‘Good Night’ to their own family members in India. Common man’s night is day for these guys. For them the day starts at 7pm at night.
My childhood books told me that ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ are opposite. Whereas, they are not. Both are celestial objects may be they differ in size, shape, functionality but still they are not opposites.
In terms of feelings we learnt that happiness and sadness are two opposite feelings. Then why many of us become happy when others are sad and vice versa.
I wonder if ‘war‘ and ‘peace‘ are two opposite words then why do we search for peace through a war.
Coming back to another reality of modern Indian society when we talk about women empowerment, I wonder what are we trying to do today. The women ‘empowered‘ by different Indian laws as the ‘Daughters-in-Law’ are disempowered as ‘Sisters-in-law’ or ‘Mother-in-laws’. The DIL can commit domestic violence against these women and they don’t have any respite in any legal form.
So we see that opposites are not very far away from each other, rather they are very close.