“I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.” -Anonymous
Every day, en route to office, I pass by a large display panel beaming the day’s quote. Having digested the daily offering for a month or so, it struck me that the compiler is as fond of anonymous quotes as he is of solecisms.
I am myself amazed at times at the stunning wisdom these sayings can put in your face. Thus, breathless with beating the clock to my desk, my eyes rested on the above aphorism one fine day.
As a child, tugging at my father’s sleeves, I often lusted for a toy train set or a carom board and pleaded as hard as I could with silent eyes. I invariably returned with a book containing religious stories for children with my patron beaming at my precociousness.
Growing up further, I wondered at my unabashed peers who merrily bawled out their heart’s desires, in and out of playgrounds and classrooms, even to the females of the species, to my utter horror. What bemused me more, they had their way, most of the times.
I wonder if father would have agreed if I had asked him to put me in school ‘X’ where all my friends went instead of school ‘Y’. Back at the college, I simmered in silence at the guts of the cowboys who asked the girls out and were suitably rewarded.
Countless meetings, assemblies, seminars, discussions and assessments stare back at me, begging the reasons of the silences I bore at particular moments, which have had lasting impacts on the runnels of my life. It would bear nothing short of a time machine to reverse the irreparable damage that the odd moments of speechlessness have gifted me for the imaginable eternity.
Having trudged the golden railroad of silence across the years, I have naturally failed to mumble the two simplest syllables ever known to the mankind, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, at the most opportune of the times. They, who could have delivered me from a lifetime of pain and chagrin, agitation and annoyance. Rather late in my life now, I am inclined not to adhere to the course of wordlessness any further.
I often remember late Shri Narasimha Rao, the most underrated Prime Minister of India and one of the greatest proponents of the art of silence in recent times. I hope I am not off the mark if I say he retrieved this nation from the brink of a certain disaster, circa 1992. His regime is rightly reckoned as the watershed of liberalization in the Indian economy. In his death, he was refused entry to his party’s portals and the hallowed crematoriums of New Delhi. It is said that the corpse of this potent yet silent diplomat who once wore the crown of India was left half-charred on his pyre. They were all convinced that the man who scarcely opened his mouth as he lived is unlikely to breach the silence in afterlife.
As I retraced my steps back at the end of the day, I smiled at the panel which still held the message. If the light were never to be followed by darkness, we would never know the meaning of light itself.