“You won’t be able to bear it,” JA warned as he was about to leave.
“Just turn everything on,” he said, his eyes on the television set. “The silence would be overwhelming, it would be unbearable." He cast a worried glance at me before he looked around the place that had housed us and the boys all through these years.
Then, as if to comfort me, he turned on the television set. I felt the familiar surge of irritation as the unwelcome noise filled the room. I rushed to turn it off. “I’m not afraid of silence,” I said. “I will love it here.”
For a brief moment, I saw in his eyes a kind of admission. He was someone who has never been very comfortable with silence in the first place. "I have always been afraid of silence," he admitted for the first time.
As he picked up his bags and turned to leave, the past came to me in a flash. How I hid the radio inside the cupboard because I could no longer bear its noise. How he always kept it turned on, even when no one was around. "Is that your way of driving away the thieves or the spirits?" I used to ask, incredulous, because I felt I was the one being driven away by the noise. Why would anyone turn on the radio when he didn't even care to listen to it in the first place? I used to ask. How could anyone be so afraid of silence, he had to fill the room with noise?
How I threatened to crush the television set, enraged at how I could no longer have a good conversation with anyone in the house without sharing its attention.
Now that I'm alone, I will welcome the silence that will engulf me as I go home. This is the home that had kept my small family intact in the last six years. Now that my small family is breaking apart, this is my way of expressing my gratitude to the house that had been more than a roof over our heads over those years. It's also my way of saying goodbye. I won't begrudge the house its silence.