A throat problem resulted in the ENT specialist advising me voice rest. So, I looked forward to spending my days silently, with a saintly smile on my face and feeling as pious as the Pope – like many great men who have spoken about the power of silence.
Look at the irony here – they had to speak about the virtues of silence, for they couldn’t do it silently. Also, the question that baffles me is, did they become silent after they became great or did they become great because of their silence?
In either case, I’ll bet that the men who spent days in silence, didn’t have to go through the daily grind of living like me. They weren’t bothered by telephone calls demanding replies, or couriers seeking addresses, or subordinates wanting detailed instructions, or irate bosses suspecting me of hiding my inefficiency behind the silence, or male colleagues calling me rude for not wishing them or female colleagues accusing me of being flirtatious because of my silent smiles and, finally, the Wife.
Wife seized the opportunity to say everything that she had been wanting to say, knowing that I couldn’t reply. Like an unstoppable drilling machine, she kept digging into the past, and reminded me of my omissions and commissions of decades ago! Finally, and quite inevitably, she did a lot of shopping too, while I watched in mute horror and silent protest as the text messages from her credit card company beeped and my BP zoomed.
The teenager, a quick learner in everything non-academic, observed his Mom and jumped at the chance to negotiate a raise in his pocket money. When I tried to decline, using a pen and paper, he scoffed that my handwriting was too ‘ugly’ for him to read. I then tried texting him, while standing just a foot away, but his typing and his replies were so fast, if not so logical, that I simply gave in and gave up.
Generally, it seemed to me that everyone was taking advantage of my temporary disability. So, like a pressure cooker, I would occasionally build up too much pressure and burst out loudly to vent out the steam, though nowhere as politely as the pressure cooker.
In addition to those bursts, I’m convicted as being guilty of gestures and facial expressions varying from crude to comic and villainous to vile.
Therefore, says the Wife, the moral and spiritual benefits of the silence could not really permeate to my soul and thus, according to her, I shall forever remain a lowly being, mired in the mundane, eternally to wallow in my mediocrity.
Said without the wifely eloquence, in speech or in silence, I’ll never be a great man.
©Avinash P Chikte