Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Silence was my enemy

Silence was my enemy. Day by day, hour by hour I had to figure out how to fight it. All around the silence was sound. Roosters, dogs, horns, kovil music, the thrashing of huge palm fronds as they crashed to the ground, the whine of eagles and the smaller whine of mosquitos. Dishes crashing in the kitchen, a clap of thunder, coffee being poured, the sound of water gulping out of the plastic bottle while it filled glasses with potable substance. All the sounds of a day and night, all the sounds of a season, monsoonal or intermonsoonal surrounded the Silence. There were crows and other birds singing high and low, coloring the air with their experience. There was the ringing phone, the scraping of plastic chairs on the concrete floor, the crackle of bicycle tires moving through sand, a sigh, a yawn, the garble of Tamil language bubbling lusty and laughing. In the middle of it all was the Silence. Silence was seated on high. Silence permeated a landscape in dense quivering tendrils. Silence was dressed as normalcy. It was the accepted raiment, the everyday mode of transaction. Silence was clothed in the everyday. Its disguise was sound. Silence was my enemy. How could I fight it?

I could meet silence with silence, unaccountable but far better than chattering around its edges. You can look the fool if you talk too much. Questions I gave up on long before. Silence was intolerant of disturbance, groggy or alert, inert or active, carrying clipping shears for the garden. Silence could smell a question miles away and thicken, darken, harden, and trap shut. Silence: intelligent, wary, prepared, perceptive, ready. Meeting silence with smiles would work only so far. Smiles were interpreted as frowns and brought to a predictable conclusion, "you look unhappy," or "you must really be thinking hard." Silence could be fought on a distant battleground, for instance swimming. Falling into water to be embraced by another silence hid the insult of the big silence. Or dreaming away a day on a bicycle, gently dipping into a countryside shimmering with its own silence and hiddenness. These were the weak battle strategies with silence. They took place on a kind of auxiliary field never confronting, never approaching, never encountering the Silence. Always examining it from a distance just far enough away to avoid setting the trigger, snapping shut the spring, killing the mouse. 

Silence was cut to fit the hiddenness. Silence was a leather binding around the hiddenness. Silence was immovable around the hiddenness, the thick three layer protein surrounding a grain of pollen. Silence had its own characteristics and could change on a given occasion to camouflage or contrast or blend or oppose. Silence covered the hiddenness like a glove, a thick glove, a layer of steaming asphalt on a macadam road surface. You could ride the silence and never touch its buried gravel surface, never find or even perceive the core you were traveling over, the molten core of what was hidden so dense that it was a solid. 

The hiddenness was in every breath of the day. It was around every corner, on every corner, affecting every waft of floral aroma or soggy wave of the lagoon. Silence covered the hiddenness. The hiddenness was held into itself so tightly that it was a rock. Like the marble lingams of Jaipur, religious. The hiddenness was a sacred bundle irrelevant, random, collected over time for its relevance, its dead hard logic, its immediacy. The hiddenness was a holy scroll locked in a velvet casing, surrounded by lions, lit eternally with a single light, unscrolled by prescription and in an incomprehensible tongue. Silence was the unwrapping the scroll, the skin tightly bound across an unreadable visage, the protection at once cottony and crystalline that prevented encounters with the hiddenness. The hiddenness was a core, not a fear. Itself it was unencounterable. There was only the Silence to do useless battle with. 

One day the Silence came over to the table and sat down without being asked. It said the words "I can remember" and cracked open to reveal the hiddenness. 

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