Saturday, March 22, 2014

Noise, Sound and Voice

I have returned to writing after more than a year!!! Yes, because 2013 was preparing me for life- fine tuning me and building my experiential vocabulary! And hence, I return, evolved to a new orbit :)

Cribbing for 'travel for work' is usual. We all do! It becomes boring, tiring and keeps you away from family and leaves you no time to even sight see and shop as you are WORKING! Well, well, in that case I am one of those few lucky ones who get to learn wherever they go! And so, as far as learning continues, I do not crib about it! Recently, I happened to 'travel for work' to a Mumbai based NGO- Save The Children India. It was a usual visit for work. But I had a life impacting experience there. STCI works closely with under privileged children. While there are many facets of their contributions, I will restrict myself to all that I saw during my short visit!

Mumbai, being Mumbai, I started early- much much before time to reach the venue- and I actually made
there much before time! :D And my learning began as I waited for people to come in. While I travelled across Mumbai to reach this place- by snaking through and crossing several rushing cars, across suburbs;  by staying traffic arrested for several minutes and almost internalizing honks as the next sound to that of my breath, on reaching this place, the only noise was of SILENCE- yes, metaphorically and literally!

I realized that I was at an organization that also managed a school for speech and hearing impaired children from surrounding slum areas! All that was heard in the building premise was SILENCE. It was a stark contradiction to experience silence in the city which has gone deaf to people’s emotions, mainly because of its pace! Soon students started flocking in. Initially, I just saw them mindlessly. Yes, I was dumbfounded. Two of them were talking to each other. In front of me. And I was not able to understand! Yes, they were talking in the sign language. Well, what impressed me the most was that they were not unhappy for what they had not got. From all that I could gather, they were perhaps talking about a teacher who scolded one of them and about some girls ;) It looked so normal, yet so quiet! The walls on the stair ways were beautifully done up with lovely craft work by children!

A girl, with green ribbons on her tiny braids, pink ear-rings and colourful slippers, climbed the stairs, greeted her teacher in the sign language and moved on to go to her class. All without words. They did not have words, but they were at no loss of it. They were expressing all their emotions through signs. Thankfully, my senses returned and I started shooting them! Despite all the reasons to feel incomplete, these children were all cheerful- boys styling their hair like Salman Khan and girls, shying away looking at them, some kid hitting the other and the latter showing power by pulling the former by collars! All so live, all so much like every other school! But, all you hear is SILENCE. All you hear is language with a unique dialect. 

They all prayed! Yes. They did. And this is how it looked and sounded! Only to remind me of Shree Jaggi Vasudev's saying- "Language is a conspiracy between two individuals!":) This experience stamped it CORRECT! It also reiterated for me that prayers never need correct grammar. All they need is correct intention. 

Almost all of them had hearing aids on their ears. Don't we also often need them? Don't we also periodically turn deaf to our dear ones' emotional cries and demands? Because we have speech, we insist so much on the right words than the right intentions! Using words, we highlight our troubles and underplay our happinesses! We suppress our inner voices by the noise of words. In fact, we have confused it big time! BIG TIME! The voice, noise and sound! All have got mixed up! Alas! there are no hearing aids available that can help tune in emotions!

This 45- 50 minutes taught me a lot about how we see our problems. I realized that there are always enough reasons to celebrate life- in all its imperfections! I learnt the difference between sound, noise and voice! It taught me the difference between communication and dialogues! Everything that I just knew till then, I saw, experienced and internalized. Sharing this here, because there is a lesson that I was awarded as a trophy that day, and which I want to pass onto as many as I can. That is "Our hardships are not as hard as the hardships of others."

So, cheers to life! It is worth celebrating with all its existing imperfections!