Echoes of Silence

Every word has consequences. Every silence too- Jean-Paul Sartre

Whether it is the lull before the storm; the paradoxical deafening silence or the silence before you hear the proverbial pin drop; silence has its own language, silence has its own echo.

The words that reverberate in the subconscious mind when surrounding noises are at a break are perhaps more distracting and disconcerting than the others. The leaking faucet, the ticking clock, the cicadas rubbing their limbs, and the wheezing trees, leave a lasting impact in the throes of silence. Yet a guilty heart suffers the most when silence resonates.

Lady Macbeth suffered not in the deed but in the aftereffects of it when silence flooded her to reflect upon her actions. The silence that pursued post Duncan’s murder, nudged her to the thought that “he resembled her father in sleep.” Silence echoed in the chambers of her guilt-ridden mind and she suffered from somnambulism or sleepwalking. She would scrub her clean hands to wash off the imaginary bloodstains.

It is said, “Silence is the most powerful scream.” And yet, an innocent mind’s silence echoes not to traumatize but to provide solace and sometimes answers the questions that remain a mystery in the cacophony of the immediate environment. The quietude responds with all sincerity.

Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher said, “Silence is a source of great strength.” To a guiltless mind, silence is like a friend that speaks volumes, for the absence of words does not imply a void. There are times when silence also implies resistance. When words fall short and lose their meaning, silence is the best option. Often loud lamentations fail to register the impact that silence does. It suggests that you do not wish to perpetrate violence through words, and therefore you choose the path of non-violent protest through silence. Silence, thereby, becomes the language of protest as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies; but the silence of our friends.”

Wise men have always adhered to the power of silence for they believe that silence is the ‘greatest art of conversation’. The adages ‘silent waters run deep’ and ‘Speech is silver, silence is gold’ lay stress on the significance of silence and its implications. It is in the silent moments that one can listen to one’s deepest thoughts. Soliloquies created in the quietest hours lay bare the noisiest of minds and hearts while exposing the psychological setup of the characters. Similarly, internal monologues are the best source of self-exploration, for one tends to be one’s true version when left alone in the company of silence. Silence is the mirror of the soul. Therefore, not only does silence tend to be a true friend but also a great comforter.

Sufi poet Rumi has much to contribute when he says, “Let silence speak to you the secrets of the universe.”

Dr. Sonika Sethi

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