These days, everybody talks! Wherever you look, somebody or the other is jabbering away, blathering without a second thought; no pause, no break. Those who speak the most are also acknowledged the most. Be it a cell phone, mic, loud speaker, FM Radio or the small screen; either people are earning from talking or someone else is earning because of their talking. Case in point, the rise of the cellular companies which are the country’s biggest earning industry.
Be it a donkey-drawn carriage or a car, a hawker or a cyclist, a beggar at the signal or a cobbler at the foot path; everybody has a cell phone to their ears. If he is literate, you’ll even notice the zest with which he texts. If somebody is texting, somebody is reading. Oblivious to their surroundings, they’ve come out to eat and spend time with each other but their eyes, ears and concentration are all either focused on their cell phones or elsewhere.
It was common to hear that walls have ears but these days, walls speak. Advertisements, slogans, profanities, hatred laden phrases – not only do the walls speak; they shout and threaten in fury. If you look away from the walls, you see sign boards and banners scratching at your ears until they are raw. Before, it was natural to listen through one’s ears but now we listen through our eyes too. There is chaos everywhere – through the distressing traffic or the banners and sign boards which are either convincing you to buy something or through their gratis counsel, persuading you to revivify your desires and boost your beliefs for rewards in the hereafter.
Tune in to the radio and instead of soothing voices in your ear, you’ll hear domesticated parrots talking to themselves in a language of their own or impecunious callers wasting away their money, praising their gab. Or you may hear two of these parrots co-hosting a program and going gaga over each other. And if you return home dead beat and flick through the many television channels, you’ll find nothing but utter disarray and screaming or one person pulling another’s leg. What you may find is sheer despondency, and the realisation that only God can save this country.
Once you get past these politicians and self-made journalists, you will come across the religious scholars who are not only all set to revive your faith through their lengthy dialogues, but also are employed to sing songs with great gusto (which, although are unlawful for others to sing, but permissible for them) for your entertainment, hosting cooking shows on which type of meat to cook to seek admission into heaven, how much spice and turmeric to use or how important it really is to garnish or how much oil to add to secure a place in your ‘corporeal God’s’ heart through his stomach.
Similarly our judges, whose sole responsibility was to listen to people and afterwards reach a verdict, have now taken a fancy to talking instead. They consider their lives unproductive unless their words reverberate in daily newspaper headlines. Now, they are the ones who talk and the addressees listen in silence, lest they be held responsible for contempt of court.
I sometimes feel that with all these people talking to each other and their voices being relayed to us through satellite, ought to be making a huge amount of commotion in space. So many voices must be circling around the Earth, and these invisible sounds must have made life for the angels and super natural beings a living hell.
At least we on ground may get some solace in finding a silent corner to get away from all this commotion but what must the ethereal beings do to escape this whirlwind of clamor?
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.