What it sounds like

When I wake up, look out into the street below and the stillness creeps in on me.

When I am half way through baking the second cake for the day, and pause and realise how a couple of hours have just flown by.

When I suddenly stop to look at my phone, mid sentence, mid page; and I realise its actually a lot earlier than I thought it was.

When I desperately try and think up places for dinner and the criteria is “somewhere we can actually talk”.

When I am seething over an even that has transpired, and I push aside the passing urge to vent. Verbally, or otherwise.

When I watch people behave stupidly and my brain has a bit of a spasm trying to decide whether to waste some breath speaking up or giving in to a chuckle that peters into a smile.

What it sounds like, is silence. And I’m suddenly more aware of it than ever.

For someone who is quite the chatterbox, who needs to be heard more often than seen, who seeks reassurance in conversation, and who loves a bustling room full of people, I suddenly find myself in the midst of silence. A lot of silence. Everywhere. Where I live, in my home, where I am in life.

Situations that get me riled up, now end in my choosing a calm silence, over a hyper verbal altercation. A silent, seething kind of anger finds its way out in silent acceptance, rather than a passive aggressive outlet. Our evenings are spent silently reading, sipping drinks, rather than actively “catching up”. Vehement conversations and discussions see me slipping into quiet contemplation a lot more often. Our Friday jaunts to dinner or drinks are all underlined with a firm resolve to go someplace quieter. This morning I woke up completely disinterested in going to a big shebang party, one that I was kicked about precisely one week ago.

I was thinking about silence and its direct correlation to focus and flow, just the other day, when I realised how a couple of hours passed by breezily, in what felt like a short span of time. I had an order for three cakes. The last time that happened, I was in a mild state of panic. Pots and pans crashed around me. The blender whirred away, the oven ticked on, eggs were being whisked and somewhere in the background a noisy playlist kept me going. It was helping me power through. Or so I thought. But last week, things just flowed. My head was in the right space and I went about things silently, calmly. The cakes too, were amongst the best I’ve baked.

Silence has taken over a large part of my life. The new neighbourhood is exceedingly silent for the most part. On a windy afternoon, I can sometimes hear the air as it swirls in heavy gusts through my home, vigorously swishing trees and branches out of its way and pushing curtains apart. I can hear a conversation on the street corner, like it is being spoken in my balcony. I’ve caught myself letting it be. Letting the silence percolate into my home and into my being. Rather than filling it all up with activity, music, television and conversation.

This is not to say I have taken an oath to quite speaking or ever playing music. But I find that more often than not these days, I’m choosing silence. In everyday situations. In interactions. In decision making. And this comfort that has come with it is a surprising discovery.

I watched Lootera a while ago and just 10 minutes in, it struck me like a loud bell ringing in my head (ironically!) that it was a film with so much silence. Poignant pauses, moments of calm punctuated the plot cleverly, tactful use of tender silences, and it would have all been so much nicer if the idiot couples across the aisle hadn’t brought along their less than 5 year old kids, who somehow piped up precisely every time there was a moment of quiet.

I wondered why the silence struck me as so jarring, because maybe somewhere I had forgotten what it is to be silent. Constantly stuffing every silent gap with some form of activity, its been a refreshing change to sit back and sink in.

When I’m silent I can hear things better. I could hear the butterfly flap in an out of my kitchen as I cooked dinner last night. I can hear my thoughts crystal clear. I can feel the raindrops hanging in the air, about to descend on to us. I can almost feel the voices in the homes around me.

I always chuckled at the phrase “sound of silence”. Now I know what they meant.

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11 Replies to “What it sounds like”

  1. Sometimes, silence is the best option, Revathi. Earlier, I would get upset on ridicule things that people do or say but now, i choose to remain mute coz when you argue with a fool, there are two. Happy Sunday in great Goa:)

  2. Beautiful post. I know what you mean. I have gone through that curve. From living in a noisy, noisy place that Mumbai is to living in a house in Wellington where I can hear the sound of pages turning, where I can hear the sound of footsteps from few hundred metres away, where i can hear the rustling of the leaves and howling of the winds(which happens a lot in WINDY Wellington), where there is no low drone of fans either since there are no fans…is a change so big and eerie that it strikes you unfailingly. Initially that was a bit unsettling. I felt the need to talk. When husband went to work and I was alone at home, my playlist played itself in loop to fill up the silence. 6 months down, I like it. I like the silence. It is so calming. The husband and I can go without talking doing our own things. Now I fear how will I adjust to all the noise once again when I go back to India in December.

    1. I am.. Had a major confrontation with the pesky neighbour yesterday, which shattered the silence for a bit. But the hearfelt support we got from the rest, made up for it. Baked my neighbours a batch of muffins today. Its true. Im home.

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