When did we last listen? “Ticking of the clock” is a phrase we use often. But when we last hear it tick-tock? The harsh honk of the car, the roar of a motorcycle, the humming of the AC, murmurs over the phone, a soft careful laugh and the tap of high heels — dominate our everyday hearing.
Running around to earn our daily break, we seem to have stopped ourselves from listening — listening to things that do not affect us immediately. In our secluded shells, we have given Nature a miss.
The wind as it whistles past us, the gentle sound of laps of water on the shore, the chorus of birds as they fly by, the swish of trees as they bend in the wind, the gurgling laughter of the child next door, or the happy chatter of kids in the playground — we seem to miss all of them.
Time waits for no man — we are losing a lot of it every day. Let us sit back just once and let our ears travel for us. We will be surprised at how much there is to hear if we give ourselves a chance to listen.
Our swaying emotions
Sitting back, closing our eyes, helps us listen to so much — we can gradually differentiate the blowing of a gentle breeze to its turning into something stronger — the howl is obvious. The sound of the fallen twig that wind carries with it, sways our emotions too.
The little bird as it hops about in search of food, as it beak pecks a fallen crumb is delightful. Listen a little more carefully — it seems that the mother bid while searching for crumbs is ever vigilant — the bobbing of its head and the crooning sound in its throat shows her care.
Then again, the sudden shrill cry and the sudden flight it takes automatically makes one to turn one’s head and lo and behold, there is a bigger threat nearby — listen! The swooping down, the hop-hop, the sound of the beak taking the food and the contented flight back to the safety of the branch — four different sounds, if one is listening.
With the setting sun, the sound of flapping wings take on a new note — it is urgent — wanting to return to the safety of the nest. If taken unawares, one would be startled at the loud noise that a group of birds can make while taking flight. With the sun down in the horizon, listen to the sound of silence. For if we carefully lend an ear, everything is not silent — the trees rustle, the sound a little easier to hear.
A sudden swishing sound — as a small animal scurries past us — is also audible. If there is an open water body, maybe, we can hear an animal helping itself to a drink. The lapping of its tongue in the water and the water lapping against the shore are totally different sounds.
My ears once picked up the strains of a guitar played afar. Listening to the tunes, my mind set itself free to travel. I recalled my grandfather telling me stories of his childhood, of life — Oh! what would I not give to hear his voice again! But then again, if I listen very, very carefully, the sound of his voice still rings in my ears.
Life goes on — we are ever so busy. But a gentle reminder — we must take time out to listen. When our kids are all grown, we yearn to hear their baby talk once again, when we lose someone dear, we yearn for the sound of their familiar voice.
So why not just listen when we still have the chance? Why not teach our children to listen too? Expecting to be regarded as up-to-date as well as aware of the latest developments, are we losing out on our feelings? Are we turning into Alexa?
We have to remain human. The sigh of the parents, which utter no sounds when we leave them — we have to listen to it. We have to turn back and hug them once more. We have to listen to the same story from our grandparents for the 100th time and we have to listen as to why the child is nagging.
We have to listen to ourselves, as we speak of our successes and failures in whispers to ourselves. It will give us the energy to get up and start again. We have to listen to the little sounds of warning that Nature is giving us — asking us to slow down, breathe and relax … to hear her before it is too late … the clock is going tick-tock, tick-tock … listen!
Mamata Bandyopadhyay is a homemaker based in Dubai.