‘If I could shut this world out’ was a common refrain growing up. The loud invasive din from the street hawkers selling their wares to the incessant clatter of the steel pots in the kitchen, the high pitched near frenzied news readers from the neighbor’s television set had created a craving for silence. A silence all prevailing. Is there an equivalent of pitch black in sound?. I wished for that. There were exceptions. Nature’s murmurs was a welcome relief. Or the sheer elegance of music floating past and permeating through each cell of one’s soul. Could I tune out the rest of the noise? Could I be able to savor the haunting twang of the cello or the seductive violin note? Would it be possible to listen to the deep baritone of a classical singer rendering a melancholic alaap devoid the accompanying shrill noises from the surroundings creeping in and making their presence felt in an otherwise pure note?. Could I be lost to an unending pleasure of goose bumps induced by music, and music alone?
Memories have different textures. While few have vivid visual imagery, some do claim strong ties to memories of auditory nature. Strangely, even what I considered as noise were strongly intertwined to memories of my hometown. The olfactory senses overload was always challenged by an unending stream of varied sounds emanating from the city. The clanking of temple bells, the inconsistent rendition of azaan or the badly off loud speakers deifying politicians during election season are all present in the elaborate record keeping process of a live brain. If smell was the marker for few streets, cacophony of noises has always been a marker for certain other streets. Walking in near deserted streets of a developed world, few things struck me hard. The near absence of people and even more suffocating was the absence of humdrum of life. For all the resentment, the noise or sound had all trappings of life. Or atleast life as I had known it.
I wonder how one handles the fading of memories. When the grip on reality slowly vanishes, am I conflicted with the conscious acknowledgment of memory? A memory which I am aware is shaky and dissipating fast. Like a person suffering from Alzheimer’s , will I be rendered helpless with bouts of lucidity, making me aware of my situation?. It makes me wonder as I tune out from the world. The clutter of vessels do not make any impression on me anymore. Nor does the beautiful rendition of a bamboo flute. Turns out, one can shut the world out if one is turning deaf. In the twilight of sound, there is a heavy burden of silence weighing one down. Jotting down those noises with sheer hunger of storing them in my memory. For when the world is bright outside, but dead to my ears, memories of those incessant stream of noise is what keeps me going on. Can we shut the world out ? Maybe. And when we do, I hope we have the access to those vaults of memory.