An Acoustic Sojourn


As the screeching giant vehicle halted under the Gulmohar tree, it had already precursored the much procrastinated commotion of the men and women who commuted by the bus daily to earn their livelihood, and bring back home the required. The birds atop the wilting trees within the walls of the land owned by the mill, chirped breathlessly from the moment I approached this place. The worn out blue chalk tip-toed and swiftly marked its path on the magenta imitation of silk. Seated for a while on the stool in this ramshackle room, the monotonous buzzing of the mosquitoes going around my head had now started to seem like what I would call silence. There was no change in it. It was a constant layer of sound steadily enveloping me which soon after it had begun, had ceased to bring out any auditory and cognitive response from me. Now, it should not seem ironic why I would call it silence. 

The silence was ephemeral. It was killed by the snipping pair of scissors. Then a piece of cloth rebelled in the wake of onslaught by the pair of scissors, gently falling on the old wooden table. Charmed by the cloth’s audacity, flirtatiously clinked the red bangles; in turn to rival whom tinkled the anklets. Alien to world of these objects, the infant romance was uprooted by the women in the green saree who seemed to take pleasure in being control of everything present within the space enclosed by the four walls. She walked up to stand against the door, and followed it a voice against the oppression. I heard the door crank painfully. After the two women finished a short lasting conversation in what seemed gibberish to me; my eyes followed the trajectory of the woman clad in green saree till she stopped by the wobbly switchboard, and I heard the putting on of the plastic switch and the dingy room suddenly got illuminated by the yellow incandescent bulb of low power. The sight outside now seemed darker.

I am amused how everything in the world is so relative. Everything we express is actually expressed in relation to something; either, how the thing we are talking about itself was earlier, or with something else. Like what I above called ‘silence’, was actually silence just relative to everything else which disturbed it. And may be, what we normally refer to as silence is actually not silence. It may be something that is enveloping us all the time, and has not ceased to leave us even once for us to realise what would be the real silence. But again, we do not know when and where exists the real silence; and what is that state like? We do not know. We do not know because we have never experienced it. We have never experienced it because ‘our layer of silence’ has never ceased to envelope us. Whatever we think is real, and what we state as how we state it; is relative and unfortunately is widely accepted as absolute because of the constant invisibility of something we are yet to see, something we have not seen, or heard of, or simply something we are not aware of. It is interesting how awareness of ‘that unknown’ would change our perception of the real. But more interesting is our hitherto incapability to find that ‘unknown’ which would be ‘the real’. It now seems, I am treading on a Mobius strip, running away from the ‘normal real’ world after the ‘unknown real’, which you most likely think is inexistent; and which even I shall have to ultimately resort to believing in.

Anyway, power supply disrupted as per schedule for shedding load on the thermal plants; at a moment that I now believe could not be more appropriate to my context. I felt a change. I encountered a new silence when I heard the sound of the machines in the mill stop. It had not struck my attention till now. Realisation of few things actually happens only when they stop. The woman struck a matchstick on the carborised strip of the matchbox and a weak
flickering flame guided her to find the battery operated lamp which she lit thereafter. I heard a turbulent stream of water from a big faucet filling an empty plastic pot behind the house which I suppose was most likely being taken for cooking the last meal of the day in the neighbor’s house. The woman turned on the radio and I struggled to overcome the torture of the battling wavelengths till she could finally tune it. She sat on her workstation, a sewing machine, and with that started another round of monotonous sound of moving wheel and iron paddle. I felt as if I some eccentric creature was hammering my skull. To my
rescue came her polyphonic mobile ringtone and she ecstatically picked her cellular phone to answer someone very important; and again started talking in what seemed gibberish to me. An ambulance passed by quickly, with its siren wailing over the patient’s immense pain and begging people to pave way.
A young woman walked in and I heard her leave her rubber slippers outside. She walked past me, pushed back the plastic stool by two steps, picked a bottle of water and rhythmically gulped water to quench her thirst while quenching my senses which were a little disturbed after the ambulance siren. Ignorant to my unusual presence and unperturbed, she went on with her chore of cutting the cloth. I looked out and a cackling little boy caught my attention walking past the door, hand in hand beside a tall dark man with a thick moustache. Also drove past an auto rickshaw, rashly cutting through the soft blowing wind. As if it did not suffice, a Bullet thumped its way to glory. Nearing auditory breakdown, I sought alleviation. And with deliberate sensitizing of hearing, I heard the sound of anklets worn by a woman crossing the road twenty feet away and it pacified me finally. I decided to end this sojourn on a tranquil note.


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