Silence


I get up in the morning to the sound of the calling bell my maid rings. A weird mix of bollywood song instrumental followed by a lady going “Please open the door” in her not so friendly voice. Its almost become odious for me, the sound of the bell. I open the door and the next thing (not necessarily in chronological order) I hear is the car backing up and that nuisance of an alert that most people have in their cars which goes beeping till you’re so pissed off with hearing it, that you’d end up running miles away than just moving away from their immediate vicinity.  Repulsive to the core. And just then there are also a couple of car horns here and there offered to us by the people who’s mundane days start with moving the car from the car park and putting it in place to leave for office and in the process honking a couple of times to alert the people around that they want the road to themselves for the time being.

While all this noise is heard by me involuntarily, I’m well awake now and I thus choose to go into the voluntary mode to create some noise for myself, only this time its less of a noise and more of an organised series of notes we call music.

I decide to switch on my computer and play a few tracks in full volume to pep me up for the day (is what I use to convince me to conduct the virulent act of listening to my playlist). I continue with my chores listening to the metal tracks by Linkin Park and Metallica on full volume before going to take a bath wherein I decide to listen to my own baritone rather than have the computer sing for me. I get ready to leave for work and pull out my bike and into the road and i’m marauded by the horns from all side and all dimensions possible. The decibel levels shooting high.
I dread encountering a red light, for people think that the person in front of them is stationery on purpose and honk wild and free to express their dissent and somehow think that honking will provoke the person in front to move ahead. How imperceptible it is to them the fact that everyone is standing at the red light by rule and not by choice, that everyone is in just as much hurry as the other person and most importantly the definition of Honking as per the driver’s manual which goes “Horn should be used to make the others aware of your presence”, mind it, it never says that you can use horns to drive or shoo away people.

I finally reach the office through the mad traffic and encounter an almost defeaning silence until i reach my desk and in a few minutes when everyone is at their desk, the phones staring ringing and there are conference calls all around you with people shouting on the speakerphone trying to find a voice for themselves to voice their concerns.

The day passes away like this before you’re back on the road with the crowd at a higher level of insanity because now their reason for honking is not just the stagnant traffic, instead it also has the added effect of the frustrations built up at the workplace.

You return home and all you want to listen to is silence… Its alarming to know how less in our day to day lives we encounter silence. How we run away from it on a daily basis. We prefer listening to songs on our iPods or laptops than sitting quietly for a few minutes. There is no space for the self. Its always the others that we have in our minds, even if for a few moments we do think of ourselves, its only the material attributes that provokes thought, my car, my house, my money and so on.

William Henry Davies aptly put it

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Silence is a virtue it is rightly said. One who can appreciate and remain silent at will, and is not disturbed by silence is in control of himself. Its a difficult task to be silent. And in todya’s world its just gotten more difficult.

The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi is the best example I can quote here. It was part of his policy not to speak for one full day of the week. He wouldn’t under any circumstance speak on a Monday. Such was his determination and commitment to the discipline that Lord Mountbatten chose a Monday to open up the news of Partition of India to Gandhi. And Gandhi’s response to Lord Mountbatten on being revealed the news was “Today is a day of silence for me, and I know why you chose this day to open this news to me. I will however not break my promise of silence and speak of it tomorrow. For now I have nothing to express.” . This was written by Gandhi on a piece of paper.

Silence helps you think. It helps you organize your thoughts and rationalise them. Silence helps you be with yourself. When you contemplate, you reason, you assure and convince yourself thoroughly of the reasons for your actions. Nothing is involuntary any more. Your thoughts are under your control and so are your actions. Mistakes are less and there’s more logic to your flow of actions. It helps you de-clutter, dis-entangle your mind of emotions.

This is why “men of few words” are appreciated in a sense. The expression itself gives one a feeling of someone in command. While it is imperative that we remain silent for sometime in a day, it is also part of our role to allow the others to experience silence. Talk less, only when important and about things that are important. Like Socrates used to say to his disciples “Use a 3-way filter before you speak to me about anything. First if it is of any use to you.  Second if it is of any use to me. Third if it is truth.”

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