Its 5am and I see the faint light of a pinkish dawn streaking across the sky. Under normal circumstances that is when most cities come alive, the newspaper vendors, milkmen, households that wake up to the clatter of pots and pans, alarm bells ringing to punctuate the beginning of a new day.
Today, silence is the new dawn…. Alarm bells are set for your early zoom meetings, people tumble out of bed, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, just a quick comb, and everyone is all set to smile at the screen. Morning walkers have abandoned their walks, no more chit chat at the park bench, no idle chatter with vendors at your doorstep, no more grumbling from the maids about the lack of water in their tenements. It’s all silence.
This eerie calm prevails throughout the day, and if by chance the doorbell happens to ring, you jump out of your skin, expecting to see a ghost. The constant tapping of the keyboard, reminds us that we are at work, working in a zone we see from afar, where we do not berate students, where we do not see their smiles or stress, where only the sound of keyboards beat a staccato in your brain, like someone drumming instructions into recesses you cannot sometimes access.
As the day proceeds the long languid afternoons stretch endlessly, fans whirr, the ac splutters, the pressure cooker whistles, and life continues amid sounds that are now familiar, yet alien to many who crave for chatter at the canteen over a greasy masala dosa.
Shadows of the evening streak across the sky, the police siren warns erring citizens, that our fate might be sealed in case we disobey lofty orders. The ice does not clink in glasses anymore, Netflix takes over our over zoomed mind, and lulls us into a world of make belief…. Sometimes into rapid violence on screen, or romantic mush or some strange sitcom which has begun to mirror our lives.
The night falls like a velvet cloak, there are no horns on streets, no conversations in living rooms, we are trying to be “socially distanced”. Our only escape is falling into bed, listening to Simon and Garfunkel singing “hello darkness my old friend” it is indeed the sounds of silence.
Lolita Dutta, Associate Director and Professor, School of Communication Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)
Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.