Breaking the Sound of Silence

6 03 2006

Silence is a state. Not just the one that affects larger world, but personal existence too. Its profoundness is too overwhelming so as to tempt many a people from plunging into its depths. At times quite similar to the way Oscar decided to stop growing in Gunter Grass ’s ‘Tin Drum’, when the world appear too unintelligible and dull as to bring out the misanthropist in every human. The hidden sarcasm and humor in the narration of the master piece manifests into a thousand dimensions when it occurs to one personally. I could not resist it either for quite a while. Still the need to break it seems to me to be the purpose of life. The question is not about being extrovert or introvert as a person – perhaps to be an ambivert attracts me- but about regaining a lust for life; the incessant flow of ideas and emotions.

Silence has its own sound. And all through out those rendezvous moorings with it could know it. Its sound is more enigmatic than the words of any holy or not so holy scripture. Simon and Garfunkel wrote it right.

Fools said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

This very smoothening sound turns to dreadful nightmare when the response from a young son to the parents after the confession that he got drunk becomes a null. Words simply refused to come from him. There was some guilty feeling, some concern and not a huge deal of ego for an affectionate consolation which might have satisfied them. Even if it were an outright burst and stubborn justification, it would not have looked this horrific. Silence pulls out new meanings to every unuttered word. When people start conversation with exclamation signs and “oooh, how come you have become so silent” becomes a routine salutation, it becomes depressive and ever more drawing to the vicious depths of it. So must I break this shell?

I was always tempted to reply to the question, “what will you do with the best work that you are convinced about?”, as, “I will not publish it at all!” It is an ecstasy in itself, much more fulfilling than the loads of appreciation the work might pay back; a narcissist pleasure. Now, I believe it needs a rethought. Is not that miraculous and self-consuming disposition very much an intoxication in itself? I never abhor worldly intoxications but when it consumes oneself completely, is not one loosing the individuality?

Here at Banglore, nights are cold. Much colder than the coldest winter nights in most parts of Kerala. I sit here in an attempt to break a silence which took me into its bosom. The chill of the outside air, the pleasant silence of the city worn out by the day’s rush are here as my company. While I converse with this night, I must penetrate back into time; a time not so long ago. A time when I found myself orphaned by words; when every feeling subsided inside due to lack of proper words. It was not the vocabulary, but the exactness in conveyance of the ideas which made me mute. Also, I felt being sapped out of all romance, all youthful grace very much to the level of a moral dilemma. It started with the symptoms of losing the inherent interest in writing, then in conversing, now to the extend of abstaining from all debates on issues very much core to my heart.

This might perhaps be an inevitable transformation or may be in away similar to the end of the protagonist’s quest in J. M. Coutzee’s Youth. It ached me throughout and now the pain has virtually driven me for a revolution from inside.

To rebel is the true character of life and to conform is death- the incorrigible ideal which I have kept. To live, to love, to share empathy, to protest are all that makes life larger than naïve pop philosophies of celebrated Ayn Rands. Is not it more natural to return to the self?

The garden city which is more an abode of stray dogs that roam around during the late hours of night and the garbage of all hyped up modernist trends, is place of solace now. Here the sound of silence is making me express the restless dreams I walked alone and narrow streets of cobblestone beneath the halo of a street lamp , not out of its pouring zest for life, but for its reflecting silence. At home my routines withdraw me from the enchanting solitude in conversing and expressing. Is not it strange that I need silence to break it too? A complex web of contradictions! Indeed, the beauty of it too.

Perhaps this is what I need now- to pen down the inner voices. If not for anybody, at least for myself. An old poem which I learned during school days about the postman (or perhaps letters) ends with ‘who wouldn’t like to be reminded’. Yes, the feeling of being remembered is the natural side of being human and to express own reminiscences the rebellion of life. The wait of the poor man for his promised sum from the war in ‘ No one writes to the Colonel’ and the whole story of ‘One Hundred years of Solitude’ by Marquez is again a rebellion against the silence in a way; the unnoticed silence of the fellow beings- the voice of the faceless millions. What good is there in plunging deep into it and muting all utterances? This dreadful inactivity needs to be shattered.

So I move ….. breaking the sound of silence. Let me go ahead with Kundera with Klima and Ruzena in Farewell Waltz ……..


PS :- If you get a chance do not forget to watch the well made movie by Volker Schlöndorff out of Nobel winning ‘Tin Drum’ by Gunter Grass. The review is here. I saw it while I were searching in the depths of the sound of silence….:)

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