The more years pass, the more my appetite for silence and peace grows. I want to devour the calm on a regular day, and I wish to drown in the banal conversation that seems to go nowhere and everywhere all at once. When you start out in the world, straight out of school or college, you do not imagine your ideal day to consist of nothing but some coffee, some drinks, some talk, some work and some chores. Then, you spend some years and realise you would make a blood oath with the devil and trade your soul for an hour-long afternoon nap. I began my twenty-sixth year here on a bus, and then, I arrived wherever I was to arrive, and I slept through the afternoon. I would not have spent this time doing anything else. But do not mistake my nonchalance for lack of cheerfulness. There is cheer in the air, and there is laughter, and there is joy, and all of it is wrapped in the net of a quiet understanding, with a bow of contentment sealing the present. What more do I need, I wonder? And I hear the absent whisper of silence.
As the bus cruised through the night and the lifelessness of empty cities, I stared out the window. I looked at it all—the rows of trees punctuated by rows of shuttered-down stores, and I thought about life. As much as I wanted to write it down, there was no coherence to what I felt, so I decided to keep my words away, tucked and folded under the clothes in my backpack. Then, for a good hour or two, I kept staring outside amidst my fellow passengers’ snoring, the intermittent honking and the obnoxiously raucous conversation between the bus driver and conductor—a welcome contrast to the silence, like a broad brush stroke on a blank canvas. Then, I dozed off, and it was early in the morning, and I was in another city on another day.
Nothing was grand about this, nothing remarkable either. Most things in life are things you can comment on, but there must be moments that merely exist, and they are part and parcel of being alive, of living. Nothing you can say about them makes them any larger or smaller than they are in themselves. They just are, like we just are, and as much as we want to believe otherwise, that is more than enough.