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Some of those who know me have a common complaint to make. They probably have scores more but aren’t telling, not that I am venturing to ask. The complaint that I KNOW of is that I never pick up my phone. Of course there IS truth in what they say, I actually don’t. One cannot when one doesn’t hear it and it is the truth that I don’t hear it ringing.

Please don’t let that make you jump to the erroneous conclusion that I am going deaf. Not really. Not yet anyway. The reason is that I keep my cell phone on silent mode on a permanent basis (except of course, when I am expecting *important* calls, for example when I have ordered stuff online and am expecting the courier to call). Jokes, apart, as far as I am concerned, there is a good reason for keeping the phone on silent mode.

Sudden noises startle me. Don’t laugh now. No joke, this.  I am dead serious. There I’d be sitting in my almost silent home, with only the whisper of leaves, or the gentle snores of Luci in my ears when suddenly the phone starts ringing. I literally jump out of my skin. And to think my ringtone is a gentle soothing one and is kept at the lowest possible volume!

As I write this, I am reminded of a time years back. I had given birth to the First Born and was still at the hospital. February was at its fag end and the days were slightly breezy. If one forgot to use the ‘stopper’ doors tended to bang shut with a deafening noise. With a newborn in the room we took great care to keep that from happening, but sometimes, someone or other in the rooms down the corridor would forget and we would hear a door close with a deafening sound. Wincing inwardly we’d glance quickly at the sleeping baby. Much to our surprise he would not have moved a muscle. But when we kept so much as a comb or pen on the table, startled the baby would throw both hands into the air.

I am like that baby these days. The smallest sounds startle me. It is totally involuntary. I don’t know if this is some sort of affliction which has got a name. Everything seems to have a name and each day new ones keep surfacing on Facebook. For example, did you know there is a word ‘mamihlapinatapai’? It is a noun that means a look shared by two people each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin. Don’t even think of asking me how it is pronounced.

Getting back, suffice to say that I am sensitive to sound. I hate blaring loudspeakers, the air horns (I’d gladly pummel to pulp those who use them in the city), television being played loud enough to wake the dead (and kill the living)  and, though I hate to admit this about my darling Luci, I don’t like it when she gives that high-pitched bark of hers all of a sudden standing right next to my ear (and when it is a volley of such barks, the top of my head comes off).

Recently a visitor to my house while taking leave looked around with surprise and said, “It is rather quiet around here, isn’t it?” Yesss! And that is precisely why I love this place. There are NO places of worship anywhere close enough to disturb my peace. Or was. Recently a small temple has come up in the vicinity which means loudspeakers and songs on festival days. Right now it is only on festival days. How long before it becomes an everyday thing? I shudder to think. I’d also be infinitely sad to see the peace and quiet of this idyllic place destroyed.
It is quite funny about the use of loudspeakers for prayers. On the one hand they say God is everywhere and then they play devotional songs as if to reach his ears *in the sky*. I mean, like really, doesn’t God who is all powerful by definition have a music system of his own that humans have to play songs for him?!

Sigh. in conclusion, I guess my ears are much more sensitive than others. People, especially those getting older and losing their hearing, wear those thingamabobs to hear better, but what I need is something that softens/mutes sounds. Or may be I will just stuff my ears with some cotton.

©Shail Mohan 2015