Sunday, March 9, 2014

Have you ever heard the sounds of silence?

Back home from college, one morning, when the pre-noon activities were all done and the house had settled down, I heard it anew for the first time. Silence. Without the regular air whizzing from a fan or the bustle of a hostel or vehicles, I entered my room and heard nothing. Absolutely nothing. No sounds from outside the house. No fan. No vehicular activity. Just a distant whirr of the refrigerator. And then that stopped too. It was completely silent.

I laid down on my bed for a quick nap. That was when the silence could really be heard.

I relaxed my head against the pillow. My head sinks in and I can hear the fibres in the pillow compressing and conforming to the shape of my head. At the same time I hear the soft rustles of the hair on my head adjusting against the pillow, many at first, then dying down as I stopped moving. I adjusted myself. Purposely. The same: Hairs against the cloth, the sound decreasing as they all stopped dancing against the cool cloth of the pillow.

Now it was the turn of my pulse to entertain me. With every heartbeat, the finer hairs on my ears and neck moved ever so slightly, waltzing with the up-and-down of blood rushing through my veins. I could now hear a faint hum emitted by my cellphone charger (I've now discovered they emit different sounds which charging and not charging) and unplugged it. Silence. Far far away, confirmed only by its periodic movement, the second had of the clock in the adjoining room. Suddenly a gust of wind and the leaves on the trees outside graze each other. A few leaves on the ground drag themselves a short distance. The dog's soft paws on the mud approaching and disappearing into the distance. And then, when all is silent again, my ears fill with a soft, low pitch buzz as if compensating for the lack of sound.

I don't know what to think of silence like this. On the one hand some people treasure it, immensely, to the extent of building houses in the middle of nowhere, and on the other, it makes you question if you're in a dream or if you have lost control of your sense for that split second.

Back to silence. I've experienced loudness-to-silence on a few other occasions and they've all been special, always bringing that content smile to my face, allowing me to appreciate the moment for longer than expected.

One is after a snowstorm and everything is blanketed in white powder. The snow absorbs all the noises from around, so in effect you hear nothing. Add to that the lack of movement during a snowstorm and voila, perfect silence.

Another is after a thunderstorm, one where the skies are so clear the only evidence of rain in the previous few minutes is the wet clothes in the shade. I think the lack of sound after the rain is what makes it unique - no one's moving, sometimes the power is down so no electronics and all the wind has been whisked away by the rain.

Have you ever heard the sounds of silence?