Sound of Silence



Last week I was travelling by bus from a city in western Maharashtra to my home town. It was late in the evening around 10 p.m. The bus took a scheduled halt for dinner at a roadside restaurant. I usually prefer light meals in the evening and while travelling it gets even more lighter. Quickly wrapping up my dinner I headed out of the restaurant for a walk while other fellow passengers were gorging on food.

The restaurant was kind of in the middle of nowhere with huge open fields in the front and at the back. It was pitch black outside the footprints of its lights. Clear open skies above with generous sprinkling of stars presented a perfect backdrop. It was completely still, dark and silent.  The only audible sound was that of the insects in the fields and an occasional gust of pleasant wind produced that rustling sound of dry leaves. It was as if the world and time had stopped. I could hear my own breathing and it dawned upon me that you can literally ‘hear’ the silence.


Silence is a wonderful phenomenon. It has a soothing and calming effect. You can hear it when you are at home, alone, doing nothing with only the ceiling fan generating that soft whir. You can hear it in late winter nights with loud ticking of the wall clock. You can hear it accentuated on a particularly wet evening after heavy rains with the chirping of the crickets and the croaking of the frogs. You can hear it at dawn with the gentle chirping of the birds. You can hear it on the mountain top with the wheezing of the breeze. You can hear it on an uncrowded sea beach as the waves crash ashore. You can hear it on a trek in the remote woods as the sounds of birds and animals trickles in.

As it turns out, different surroundings at different points of time coupled with specific natural sounds create a unique flavour of silence. Now am not trying to get creepy but if you get adventurous enough to venture deep into the woods at night and on top of that get lucky enough to hear the hoot of the owl and the howling of the wolf, silence doesn’t get more deafening than that! What I am driving at is, if a thing or phenomenon is to be experienced, it has to be from outside its reference frame. Put simply, there has to be that ‘anti’ thing.


Just as to experience light, there has to be darkness, to experience the heat, there has to be the chill, to experience movement, there has to be stillness. To experience the good, there has to be a bad, to experience the sweet taste, there has to be a bitter taste. Same goes for silence. That gentle breeze, that rhythmic breathing of self, that distant chirping of the crickets, that gentle splashing sound of water on the beach or the melodious cooing of the cuckoo in the morning actually help you hear the silence. It is difficult to imagine how our ‘hearing challenged’ brothers and sisters perceive silence since unfortunately they cannot hear the sounds.


Silence is the language of the Universe, most natural, most original. All other sounds are its ‘anti’ manifestations. It is just that some sounds discussed above compliment silence and help bring out its pleasant experience. I am tempted to quote one of the verses from the song ‘sound of silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel:

And in the naked light I sawSimon-and-Garfunkel_370
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

If time travelled backwards

nature-images-86Sometimes I get weird ideas, so weird that they qualify to be labelled as thought aberrations rather than ideas. But the mind refuses to be reined in and continues to run amok. One such thought aberration was what if time travelled backwards? Now Einstein would be surely turning in his grave saying it’s all relative and there is no such thing as forward or backward. However, with my current frame of reference and the way my mind is programmed to think, “clockwise” is time travelling forward and “anticlockwise” is travelling backward. With that issue settled, let’s embark on a journey “back in time”, literally.

I would start my life as an 80 year old, with standard complement of medical complexities, whiling away my time, cursing others, creating occasional nuisance and ogling at women third my age, boys will be boys! Not a bad start, considering the fact that I would already be retired and the onus of my responsibility (actually burden) would be on my immediate family rather than other way round. After spending couple of decades, I would have gradually regained my health and would be about to join the workplace.

The medical complexities would have ebbed and I would be joining the workplace at the pinnacle of my (erstwhile) career, with its full baggage of pressures, responsibilities et al. It would be cool to have all the knowledge and the experience prior to joining the workplace. No interview, no tests. Over a period of few years, I would gradually “move down” the corporate ladder.

Though I may have a settled life, the customary midlife crisis would make it appear as if I am the most unsettled and the most unfortunate of them all. While desperately trying various options for course correction including retirement, I would essentially stay on the same course just procrastinating. While the midlife crisis would die down, I would still be doing the tight rope walk trying to balance my personal and professional life.

Meanwhile my full grown, full-fledged family would be progressively getting younger each day. The kids who had just got a job and were independent would now be attending college and then “graduate” into school. While in school, wouldn’t it be amazing to show them their own photographs and videos when they were older? Same would go for me and my wife when we would look at our photographs and videos when we were old and have a hearty laugh. One immensely satisfying thing would be to lose the flab around the waist and get the foliage back on the head.

As I would progress back in life, one day I would get married and the next day I would be a bachelor! Oh how I yearn to be a bachelor….if my wife reads this, am sure to get killed or maimed. Subsequently, it would be the good old college, sun in my eyes, wind in my hair, no studies, no worries….just friends, fun and movies. Next, it would be time to go to school. The energy, the insatiable desire to learn new things, the innocence and excitement would return. I would find joy in small things like jumping in puddles, playing in dirt, chasing insects and butterflies, making paper boats and airplanes.

Getting younger and younger, I would lose weight and height, would start wearing colourful clothes with images of cartoons, slowly losing my vocabulary. Instead of saying full words and sentences, would start blabbering in monosyllables. My routine would now be eating, sleeping, crawling around and again eating and sleeping. The diaper would take care of the rest. Finally it would be time to say goodbye to the world and get into my mother’s womb!