The Emperor of Silence
It was the soft echo of his foot steps against the harsh, white walls that surprised him. He had not expected such a silence in the middle of this busy city. The silence was astounding! Like nothing he had ever experienced before. It was like nothing he had ever heard before. Was it possible to hear silence? Before him was evidence to support the obvious answer to this question. He had never considered silence like this as he had never known anything like it; even in his own mind it was not so quiet.
This silence, his silence abruptly brought forth the reality of his existence. HIs world was chaotic, noisy, confused and completely intrusive. It stunk of sweat and urine; of cooking meat from the street vendors and of the exhaust from the cars and buses, trucks and the motorcycles. It smelled of petrol and shit and and of the rotting dead animals at the side of the roads. Yet too, it existed with the sweet aromas of flowers and trees and the many perfumes of woman and men. The intermingling of odors of the curry house and the bakery next door along with the confectionary shops and the vast array of restaurants almost cancelled out the underlying stench.
His world was full of the wonderful chaos of noise mixed together with the finest filaments of sound from the lightest of breaths, to the wail of the newborn baby, to the sounds of tires screeching followed by the thunder of a gunshot and weeping and sirens and people screaming in the streets. The world around him was encapsulated in noise and it had grown deaf to itself and its horrid, fetid existence.
Music played against the backdrop of people’s lives as individual soundtracks. Blues mixed with Rock & Roll swirled with the sad tunes of country music along side the happier jazzy notes and they all blended into one awful outpouring of blaring, deafening sound blasting in his ears even in the quiet hours of night.
People. He grouped them into two categories. Some people sang, some whistled and others simply hummed. There were those who did not sing but instead danced. They stomped up and down the walkways, skipping in step with the beats of their own hearts and the beat of the cities around them. For those who did not sing or dance fell to the side of the first group he had labeled The Applauders whom applauded the accomplishments of the singers and dancers and raised them up on the pedestals and transformed them into demi-gods.
Or they stumbled to the other side, the second group, the gossipers, the complainers The Critics, as he called them. They raised their voices in complaint and criticism of everything the applauders applauded. And though he considered them as two separate factions running against one another in the game to win the world, they sometimes, to his great surprise, joined forces. His logical mind whispered to him that it was merely accidental when they fought the same fight, but he wondered if it was all a giant conspiracy to simply confuse the world. Why? ‘Because, confusion destroys walls. Walls are defenses. When the walls are downed, the defenses are down and when the defenses are down, victory is had.’ It was the voice of his grandfather.
Which side did he fall? He could not say. Neither, he supposed. He was an army of one in the Sea of Noise.
The sound of the world was uncomfortable and unbearably loud to his ears. He travelled across the city delivering parcels, passing the Critics and the Applauders, the Singers and the Dancers, the Hummers, the Whistlers and all of the static in-between. Every moment of his waking life he could smell their smells, tastes them on his tongue and his eyes, if they could would have screamed at him from the blistering melding of colours all around.
He prayed for reprieve. He moved smoothly between each of the people he had grown to hate so much, barely touching them, speaking only when necessary. He watched the skies and longed for the fire to come down from the heavens to silence the world at long last.