We all have heard the old saying, 'when words fail, music speaks'. I am partly deaf and a complete mute so I knew that this poetic way of thinking was of no help in the real world. Words have always failed people like us and we've resorted to a more sane and effective way of communication. But opinions change, don't they? Well… here is my story that helped me understand the term music in a different way.
A few years back, I was taken into my new family from my institution. April 17th was the day that marked the beginning of my first adventure. Sameer and Asmiya strolled in on a fine evening and spent some time with me as usual but this time, I was told to go with them when they left. It took a great deal of time before I realised that I was finally adopted !!! There was a dancer, a few singers, some comedians, a wannabe writer, and a bunch more of other talented ones but I was picked ahead of them. Maybe I was pitied, maybe they had a child who was just like me. Whichever the case was, I prepared myself to experience all that I had imagined.
After the paperwork was complete, I bid farewell to friendlies, envies, newbies and oldies. The couple… I mean… My parents had arrived there by car. They helped open the door for me to enter. As soon as they did, I saw that they had a daughter who seemed much older than me and happier than my parents. That was Anu. As happy as I was to meet my new sister, it bugged me to see the disturbing image. I kept telling her that she had something on her teeth. She didn't have to know sign language to understand that as I was merely pointing my fingers at my teeth and hers repeatedly. She was getting more and more upset and angry with every time I did that. After the 12th time or so, she screamed some things that were mere muffles to me. It was only later that I came to know about braces and its uses.
Me and my new sister got off on the wrong foot even before we cleared the premises. My parents were visibly concerned at how things were turning out. Both tried to convince her instead of punishing me. It was an odd gesture but I was relieved that I wasn't dropped off straightaway. Once the issue was put to rest, we started out to my new home. I felt a strange odour as soon as I entered the vehicle but in just 20 minutes, it was disturbingly uncomfortable. I tried to concentrate on Anu's doll that mom and dad made her give me. She was hesitant at first but when she felt she was being replaced, she threw her favorite toy at me and stared out the window for the rest of the ride without a single word. Another 20 minutes passed and I found the car ascending a mellow slope.
By then, the strange aura began to give me collywobbles and headaches. All that stopped when I practically bathed the doll with my puke. I was an 8 year old kid who just got adopted, antagonized his sister and now ruined the family car. I began to sob uncontrollably seeing that I was exacerbating this auspicious day. Anu ran out of the car in rage and disgust immediately after we stopped. Mother, however, took me out and cleaned me while dad did the same with the car. The house was nearby and so we reached before the sun disappeared. My parents showed me to my room. It was upstairs, right opposite to Anu's. Just before I could enter, they surprised me with a hearing aid to help me hear better. I was ecstatic but also very grateful for such a wonderful family.
Once my room was settled, they took me for a tour of the house. Eight year old me found the house to be smaller compared to that of my previous home but he had a whole room to himself. The most wonderful thing about the tour was the backyard. The house was on a cliff, overlooking the city below. It was more like a front yard but at the back. Trimmed down grass and a lonely tree by the far left. It was a magical place that made me feel that it was all a dream. Mom announced that dinner was ready. She was an excellent cook. I can't remember what I had that day but I can remember the murderous look on Anu's face. I knew I had to make peace with my sister but that had to wait till the next day. I hugged my parents good night and jumped over my bed for a good night's sleep, hoping not to wake up in my old bed back at the Orphanage.
Three years passed and no amends were made. I was more scared than lazy to speak to her. A few instances, she had hostile intentions because I accidentally vexed her. I wished I could tell her how sorry I was to be the bad guy but all my attempts for a parley were met with curt gestures that made no sense to me. My parents knew my language even before I was adopted but my sister had to learn it after I arrived. Since she hated me, she chose not to, despite dad's wish and mom's requests.
Interestingly, she had two close friends - one was a mute (Sanju) just like me and the other one (Reshmi) was the translator. Last month, both of them came up for a sleepover and I noticed over dinner that every time Sanju spoke my language, Anu waited for her other friend to explain it. Though I was still a kid, it was obvious to me that Reshmi was utterly uneasy doing it. I wasn't sure if my sister was making a point out of this but it broke me to see that she would rather not have a conversation with her best friend than learn the hands purely out of contempt.
On her fifteenth birthday, mom had a long talk with her about how this long distance in childhood would affect the entire family in the coming days. Anu was in no mood to listen to any of mom's advice. A few weeks earlier, I happened to trip over our carpet and knock down an earthen jar that was a parting gift from her best friend. I knew nothing was intentional but my crime rate kept increasing steadily. The words that escaped the room gave life to the thought of me being her next door nightmare. Unable to bear anymore proof of her hatred towards me, I left to the backyard cliff for a few moments of alone time.
"Now listen, you're a big girl. He… Look at him honey. He's been there since 5. You'll be leaving to the new school soon. Is this how you wish to leave things behind?", mom pleaded. "Why do you think I'm going far from our home, mum? I can't stand the sight of him. I regret talking you and dad into adopting that numbskull. I just wish we could give him back or something", Anu's voice began to tremble. "Don't pretend to be something you're not just so you can feel better. Look, here is a letter that he wrote to you for your birthday. Read it first. Then, you can go talk to him if you feel like it. I won't force you to do anything but just go through this", mom said handing over my letter to my sister. "Fine", she said. "If this will make you stop making me feel like the adopted one…" Mom didn't say a word to that.
My letter said, "Dear sis, Happy birthday. I am sorry for being a bad brother. I did not mean to hurt you. Even if you cannot take me as your brother, please don't see me as your enemy. We never talked. Mostly because I am scared and also you hate me. I wish I could explain everything to you but you wouldn't understand. I know you're leaving your home because of me. Please stay. I will go to my old home. Atleast you will be happy and I won't hurt anyone. You can hit me if you want to. I won't tell anyone. But don't go. You are not the adopted one."
The evening was growing old and dark. I sat near the edge of the cliff and stared down below witnessing every dot of light come to life. It was a cold and silent evening, something I used to enjoy at that very same place. Today, it made me feel like a usurper. My conscience turned against me. I felt every bit of pain she felt over the years but in a more amplified way. The rustling of the tree felt like ugly curses and so, I removed my hearing aid for the silence that had been my loyal companion. However, I didn't fail to notice the door open behind me spilling a dim, wide ray of light over my back. I prepared myself to listen to her reply.
Anu came and sat silently beside me staring at the city down below. Irony played her ambiguous answer. The white hues of city lights didn't bother for the tune but the yellow and red ones crept rectilinear moves. This sophisticated quietude was maddening. After torturing me without doing anything, she slipped out a smirk on my side of her face. My mood changed in an instant and I wanted the newly heard silence to last a few more minutes. My eyes were fixated on that gorgeous ten millimeter lip curve. A part of me wanted it to remain intact and another wanted it to disappear to give way to words that I could not discern. She might have noticed that in her peripheral vision and so turned towards me. In this moment of truth, I completely forgot about my hearing aid.
A tender waft stopped by to say hello to us. It was a formless guest but Anu's hair instantly reached out for a warm welcome. Before long, our guest and her hair were in a supple yet unrestrained dance, inadvertently clouding the smirk I fell in love with. She didn't seem to mind it. Maybe because they were hiding her overwhelmed emotions scratching behind her visage. Our guest left us soon after to reveal her face that looked like a crumpled paper - shrunk with folds and in need of a gentle stroke. Back in my mind, I kept thinking, "I already broke her jar and now I was pushing her to break down in front of me?". She cracked her knuckles in a way that made me think that I was about to be thrown off the cliff. There was no one to save me this time.
Instead, she hand signalled, "It's alright. I'm sorry too" and the only sounds that vanished into the winds after that were our snivels and smiles.