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The Cost of Silence

Do you ever feel disconnected from who you used to be? Do you think about what your life was like before that one major decision you made? Do you miss who you were? Where you came from? I often look back on my childhood in Mumbai; growing up in one of the most populous, fast-paced concrete jungles of the world was chaotic. When I say chaotic, I don’t necessarily mean in a bad way. It was chaotic in the best way possible. Don’t get me wrong, I know what most people imagine when they picture India. Loud, busy, hot, curry, cows, sweaty. Though gross stereotypes, they might just have an ounce of truth to them.

I did wake up to a chaiwalla (tea vendor) shouting out his sales pitch to all the travelling passengers at the railway station behind my house almost every day of my childhood; I did drive by at least three cows, two of which had flower garlands around their neck due to their utmost importance in Indian politics- I mean religion, every day for twelve years on my way to school. I did take over an hour to drive to the mall which was only about fifteen kilometres away from my apartment; and yes, we live in apartments- most of us- because there just isn’t enough space to in my loud, crowded, hot home town to build white picket fences and neighbourhoods with cul-de-sacs. Yet, here I am a twenty-two-year-old raised in one of the most populated concrete jungles of the world, 12,000 kilometres away from home in Toronto, Ontario. Here I am with no chaiwallas to wake me up, no holy cows and no hour-long drives unless it is a road trip.

Did I think I would miss my beautifully chaotic world? Yes. Did I ever imagine the lack of noise would be the loudest sound in my mind? Well, no. So, what I am trying to explain is that I am simply obsessed with noise. I am obsessed with waking up to loud screams to help me remember that there are other’s in the world besides me. I am obsessed with seeing a million-people dance on the main street for Holi while throwing colours at each other, infinitely happy in that moment. I am obsessed with hearing cars honking at each other even when it is a red light and there’s nowhere you can really go, just because the impatience is infectious in the worst way possible. But most of all, I am obsessed with my home, Mumbai, which I left willingly looking for something I thought would drown out its noise once and for all. Yet, here I am, obsessed with everything I left behind. Perhaps everyone knows I’m obsessed with noise. Perhaps that’s why my friends are some of the loudest people I know- they’re simply trying to make me feel at home! On a more serious note, perhaps I am obsessed with the version of myself I left behind in my bedroom in Dadar and everyone around me somehow knows.

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