Words of Bob Considine, a famous American columnist, often reverberate and reaffirm. In one of his shortest columns on record, he simply wrote—“I have nothing to say today”.
Wonder what made him say so! A draw to a close. A distraught declaration. A prolific writer feeling wordless. A thinking mind getting smothered. The conditions from which such a response stemmed might have been unique as well as agonizing.
Unique because Bob scribbled something as good as resigning from something he was known for for decades. He didn’t write his column. He publicly confessed “emptiness”.
Secondly, it might have been agonizing for Bob to remain silent though he certainly would have some ideas and thoughts to write about. What was it that created a “need” for him to become unvoiced?
Why is it that many of us, not only writers or columnists, feel the silence as a nirvana at some point in time? In a world full of words and words, the clutter many a time numbs us all. We become cold and almost lifeless. We think but we don’t feel. The mind-numbing deluge of information and insights, the infobesity, clogs the heart and head. The monotonous profuse of opinions and arguments bulges in as “fatigue”—a condition where a bout of awareness impinges on our thinking patterns and eventually renders us ‘mentally sluggish’. Add to it the emergence and dominance of the virtual world of networking, where data, information, discussion and debate usually surpass any genuine intellectual discourse, and where, inevitably, only shallow thought and perception perpetuate.
Perhaps, the same happens with a ‘lazy writer’, who is influenced by the processes of the time around him. He is shaped by the vibes encircling him. There is a lot of noise drowning his voice. A daily dose of interposed chaos and confusion obscures his voice. Though silence is often known to have the strongest voice, his silent interpretation gets saturated. It is because he is putting up in a space where there is the long, frantic hammering of senseless sounds. The agony of our writer does not stop here. He wishes to write about society, he wants to pen down his ideas on human development, and he aspires to put across his word about his experiences. But alas! his topical subject is pain, the issues of human development have been replaced by human rights concerns, and he has experienced nothing but anguish. His voice has been muffled whenever he tried to make his voice heard amidst noises. What else the writer here has to write about except pain and protests, betrayal and befooling. For he lives in the land where ideas clash with deeds.
His loud silence needs to be read. He has witnessed goons and gallows, blood and betrayal, coercion and containment….and in all this, he finds his voice getting faded miserably in the market of noise.
His is a queer dilemma. He wants to write. But he decides to be silent. He wishes to narrate. The tussle between story and silence rages with torment. And he, finally, opts for self-censorship. He kills his voice. Kills the story. Rather ends the story.
What models this murder? Who contrives this creative execution? Does society help in shaping it? The answers are disturbing. Our storytellers don’t inhale different oxygen. Many among them try to reflect the face of their society, and many a time they get a strangely invisible reproach for doing so. The intolerance is huge and strong, so much so that their voice fails to resist the onslaught of noise. And then, noise dominates. This makes our storytellers chase their ideas but listlessly. They don’t get exhausted, they get disillusioned.
The voice fades out. Dwindles. Slowly. Noise creeps in. Erodes. And Echoes. It is devastating. Every time, it is devastating.
On an intangible note, they say ‘when I can no longer speak, hear me’. Who is there to hear you? Hear your silence. The silence that carries eloquence. The silence that is meaningful. The silence that cuts through the muddle. As Hafiz did--
A day of Silence
Can be a pilgrimage in itself.
A day of Silence
Can help you listen
To the Soul play
Its marvellous lute and drum.
Is not most talking
A crazed defence of a crumbling fort?
I thought we came here
To surrender in Silence…..
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK