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Death of a Proverb – Silence is Golden

Center drills, Numbers 1 (bottom) through to 6...
Center drills,  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up this morning to a pleasant silence, looking forward to a day of peace. Today is a Sunday and hopefully the noisy machines of the workmen in the building next door will be silent. For almost 30 years now, I’ve had the continuous sound of whirring machines, screechy drill bits, pounding hammers, and the dull sound of some work being done somewhere thanks to the incessant building activity in the neighbourhood. If it is not a new building that is being demolished, it is a road being repaired or a flat being refurbished, or it is a wedding being heralded with a raucous, band belting out old Hindi film numbers or worse still, the cacophony of a tuneless dirge played out on an electronic keyboard.

 This in addition to the ambient sound of roadside traffic, ringing doorbells, incessant phone calls and constant babble seems to have made Silence seems an anachronism and SOUND being the buzz word of the day. From the moment we get up to the sound of an alarm, we are listening to something other than the voices in our heads. Waiting at bus stops or public spaces, private parties, family gatherings , hospitals, theatres , airport lounges and any place with more than two people in a room, one is alarmed at the various ring tones that go off and the ensuing embarrassed, frantic scramble to reach out and silence the offending instrument .

NOISE! NOISE ! NOISE! and even more noise seems to have become the death knell of that old proverb we were brought up on – Silence is Golden. As young children we were admonished that we should be seen and not heard and “Keep you finger on your lips” was the refrain of most adults we interacted with. We were shushed when we wanted to speak up against anything we considered wrong and were sternly told to keep our counsel, strongly being advised against  answering back. But this seems to have been turned squarely on its head with all of us being encouraged to talk, to go out in the world and make ourselves heard. It is the squeaky wheel that  gets the oil, exhorts the management guru who urges you to make your voice heard so that you aren’t lost in the quagmire of office politics with your discreet silence. Making yourself heard so that you are visible is all that life is about, a fact that has been brilliantly borne out by the recent Indian Elections – where silence has proved disastrous to our last Prime Minister.

But surely there’s a golden mean when silence is meaningful , when a measured silence speaks a thousand words?

This is the 7th post in the Write Tribe September Challenge.


A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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