Peace in pieces

Peace in pieces

Music is no longer the ‘food of love’; it is more the bitter cup of distraction.

It may sound strange, but the more I seek peace and quiet the less I have of it. In fact, my strenuous attempts often end in more noise or worse, generate ill-will. My peace, I may say, is all in pieces.

Consider, for example, what happened not too long ago. The occupants of the flat above mine were god-fearing and religious. Nothing, I admit, to quarrel with or complain about. It was the expression that was unacceptable. The mantras and bhajans via their player began loud and clear in the wee hours of the morning. Monotonous and repetitive, they did nothing to edify my soul or my outlook.

Unable to put up with it any longer, I called on them and requested them to reduce the volume. With pained and reproachful looks, they exclaimed, ‘But it is religious music that we are playing!’ Very politely, I pointed out that such music would be far sweeter if it was much softer. The message must have gone home, for the volume reduced dramatically. It nevertheless left a touch of coldness in our relationship.

I was therefore relieved when they moved away and their place was taken by a young couple. My relief was short-lived though. The young lady returned from work well after mid-night and indulged in stomping around in her high heels, wrenching cupboards open and slamming doors.

I was rudely awakened every night and could not go back to sleep. When I confronted her with my problem, her pretty face crumpled into an angry frown. Her arms akimbo, she demanded, ‘Don’t I have the right to wash in my own bathroom?’
‘Of course you do,’ I answered affably. ‘You will agree though that I have a right to sleep in my own bed undisturbed.’ The noise since then has reduced, but unfortunately with the same repercussions as before.

Humankind, it seems, has moved from the world of jungles to that of jangles. Music is no longer, as the poet would have it, the ‘food of love’; it is more the bitter cup of distraction. Whether in the bus, on the train or just walking on the road, you find a veritable gaggle of sounds assaulting the ears. You hear private affairs being loudly discussed over cell-phones or cacophonic music emanating from the latest gizmo.

I read recently in this column of the joys of a reader who is smell - impaired. Her olfactory nerves do not allow the prevailing stench and fetid smells of our garden city – sorry, garbage city – to penetrate beyond her nostrils. It is a brilliant example of a black cloud that has a silver lining.

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