The Sound of Silence

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own……, if I hand’t ‘heard’ it with my own ears. At WM Center, it was achieved today not once, but twice.

At the end of the half-hour Library session, with Saye’s laptop set on the table with speakers on either side clearly signalling that a DVD was about to be played, the din and noise created by the excited children was deafening. Try as some of the volunteers might, it was simply not possible to make the children stop chattering. Then Saye tried the time-tested method. He somehow managed to make himself heard to the first row of children and told them that until total silence was achieved, he would not play the DVD. To drive home his point, he went and sat in a corner. It took some time for the meaning of his gesture to sink in and percolate to the furthest row in the back. Gradually, the intensity of the noise came down to a light buzz and then to a murmur………until the class became unbelievably quiet. You could hear a feather settling down. Throughout the transition — from sound to silence — all the volunteers remained rooted where they were, sending out an unmistakable message to the children. The DVD was then played.

Well done, Saye!

The second time this same feat was achieved, an entirely different technique was used. After nearly two hours of book reading, video watching, lessons and worksheets, the children were starting to fidget — as they tend to do after a long session. The activities were all done, we were ready to call it a day when the skies suddenly opened up. The children’s noise, coupled with the pouring rain, reached its peak and it was so bad that you couldn’t hear yourself think.

Suddenly, above the racket boomed Yeshwant’s voice, “All of you be silent.” No one bothered. He wasn’t one to give up, though. Straining his vocal cords, he again yelled, “All of you be quiet.” Again, no one stopped speaking or shouting. Then he bellowed, “Let’s hear the rain!” That did the trick! Even the volunteers took notice. Slowly, ever so slowly, the uproar gave way to silence until there was not a sound. Except that of the rain.

In that silence, we listened. We listened to the music orchestrated by Nature that was coming to our ears from all directions. In the stillness, we could hear the rain coming down in sheets, could distinctly hear and distinguish the sounds of rain falling on the roof, hitting the cement floor outside the class-room, dropping in the open space above the class and around it. We could hear the gurgle of rain water as it gushed down the drain.

The silence within the class lasted for about 40 seconds, but within me it stayed much, much longer. When it lasted, it was simply divine. There is no other word to describe how I felt. ‘At peace’ would come very close to it.

Thank you, Yeshwant!