The Sounds Of Silence

By Vijayshree Kurumilla. Vijayshree is a freelance writer from Hyderabad India.

As a writer, I would like to, let my work, do the talking, and therefore, I do not fully, agree with the statement of Mary Angelou that- “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

I agree more with what Marquez is believed to have said, ‘If I want to say something, I will write it’. Many times, I found that when I wish to say something verbally, my emotions and words fought with each other, to come out at the same time, and I often do not say what I intended to. But with writing, it is like, they flow, in harmony.

Great speakers may not be good writers, and more often than not, good writers may not be Great speakers. Writing has remained for centuries, the most inspiring tool to bond the entire world into one human thread, of shared suffering and shared ideals. I was reading the other day, ‘Famished Road’, by Ben Okri and how close I felt to Africa. It was like all the written words, echoed inside, for a long time, to be recollected often and reminded of, how similar, all our experiences, are. It is just that some people go about seeing life, for what it really is, while many chose to be blind to, whatever is passing right, in front of them.

I have not completed reading the book, but I almost feel I know what will come next and how it will all end. That is the power of written word; reading Orhan Pamuk, I know of life in Turkey, Khalled Husseni, takes me through the turbulent Afghanisthan, Marquez , makes me part of the Latin America, this way I know that- all our lives, and our loves and our pain, are the same, irrespective of which country we belong to.

Writing has done this to me, but I can’t say the same thing of Human Voice attaching shades of deeper meaning to those same words. Would those written words by the same great authors, have taken a deeper meaning, had they been given a human voice? I don’t think so. May be as Khalil Gibran said in his book, ‘The Prophet’, -‘You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts’. Writing was found to be so powerful, that some famous books were banned by governments which feared this, might, of the written word. History is replete with such instances, all across the world. Ten years ago, looking at the way, electronic media dominated our lives and was being used, in a way as some kind of tool for, thought policing, I wrote in my copy of the Book, ‘Mother’ by Maxim Gorky that, ‘Alas, the revolutions of the kind written about in the book, will never happen again’.

But, Life has a way of finding a way out and we witnessed, how modern tools of communication have been used to bring about what I thought was unthinkable, just a decade ago. Social media revolution happened because, somewhere we grew tired of manipulation of our emotions by the electronic media, which only showed people who could talk, people who could use their voice to give their own meaning to the words. We only could listen and try to judge them by what they spoke. Could we make out whether they were honest from what we heard? I do not think so. You have voice trainers, and those who could teach you the art of speaking, which means, there is, a lot being learnt by those who wish to leave the best impression upon you.

But the social media, in every form, broke through all the voice barriers, to share, every single thought, with the entire world and the world has been witnessing many revolutions, spurred by the voiceless, social media. In a way it challenged the words, being spoken forcefully, by dictators, through their own propaganda machinery, which broadcast their speeches, spoken with great emotion, to their suffering and oppressed masses.

These same masters of speech made sure other forms of media were gagged, and so, the social media which could not be censored, brought in a silent revolution. Happiness, Anger, rebellion, you name the emotion, and everything was being silently shared on the social media. If it brought down people who sought to create fetters on the freedom, then it did it, quite silently, without any voice adding deeper meaning, to the written word.

It is the person inside me who enjoys solitude rather than the company of another person, which perhaps makes me oppose the statement. I do feel lonelier in a crowd, than I am, when I am with myself.

Again there are some rare exceptions, to my own argument. Professor Jai Shanker was his name and even as I write this, I can only recall his words, with tears in my eyes. His voice was so compelling, when he was speaking on the television, that I, who was reading a book, on a wintry night with a blanket wrapped around me, was drawn towards the Television, to listen to what he had to say. And those words will remain forever etched in my mind, as he recreated through his narration, a long happened tragic incident.

He was recollecting of the time when as a student, he was going to take part in a protest meeting in the city college. He could not do so, on account of the breaking down of the bus in which he was travelling to the venue of the protest. And he went on to say, how firing took place in that protest, and some of his friends died in that firing. At that time I felt as if, it was me ,who was stuck in that bus, which would not move, even as the time for protest had already approached and my friends were anxiously awaiting, my arrival. Friends who died in the firing, while you, did not, because your bus broke down.

That night’s tryst with his words, made a lasting impression on me, pushed me towards taking up the cause which the Professor so deeply wanted, his next generation to take up. I was not alone in doing so; many others were inspired towards his cause. That was the year 2009 and in 2014, the cause for which he gave his last breathing word to, reached a successful denouement.

Thus, it all depends on who is speaking, which will determine whether the meaning, being attached to the words, is really inspiring and impactful or plain manipulative and deceitful. Politicians, with ill intentions can use it, to become all powerful, and those who rebel against the very same, crushing, all powerful forces, will use it, for making it, inspiring.

Finally, as a writer, I think, the written word is far more powerful, than the spoken word and what I think, I write. As a writer, I have learnt that I cannot escape being drawn, to activism in one way or another. My writing does reflect my own concerns for the society in general, whether it is environmental destruction or the exploitation of resources to their own end, by certain capitalist forces. I get a lot of satisfaction from having contributed something, towards drawing attention to the causes, I believe in, through my writing.

I doubt it, whether my voice would be able to express these same thoughts, in the way I had it, all worked out, in my mind and which flowed into my writing, just as I wanted it to be. I would probably be stammering or getting emotional and all worked up, before half of it, would even struggle to come out.

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