The Comforts of Comfortable Silence…

“I tell you! The silence was just so suffocating. I wanted to talk – I truly did! But – oh dear!” once said an old classmate, in the high pitched voice that teenage girls often use when they want you to capture the significance of what they were saying – elongating and stressing every word!
What had happened was, she had alighted from the bus that morning and found herself facing the stern face of our Principal. A shocked moment later, she managed to squeak out a “Good Morning, Sister” that elicited a nod from the otherwise impassive nun. The classmate could not possibly walk in front of the Principal. She could not duck into a nearby shop, lest she be questioned why she is not marching straight to her class. Nor could she walk so slowly as to let the Principal win a totally unplanned (and rigged!) race. She ended up walking with one of the greatest fears of one’s student life. In dreadfully uncomfortable silence!
I am an introvert in many ways (actually my “vert”-ness has always confused me!) When I heard this story, my first reaction was “Oh so I am not the only one who feels that while walking next to someone we have been introduced to, but have not yet reached the “Hey! Yo!” level.” That was comforting, because I honestly thought I was the only one with the cotton ball down my throat in such situations.
On the other hand, there are silences I enjoy. In the company of friends, sitting on stone steps or rocks, up a hill, in the rain, sipping coffee, and not feeling the need to blab. It’s tiring to continuously think of topics ranging from books, to music, to films, to sports, to politics, to religion, to everything else. Sometimes, we just have to let silences take us over. And not feel bad about it. A comfortable silence between two friends is as fulfilling as solitude, a good book and a warm blanket. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps, life has to be made up only of laughter and conversations, in order for us to be happy. But then, I prefer that lightness, without feeling the compulsion to look east, west and anywhere else (like the urge to suddenly start composing an imaginary text!), but the person’s face. And sometimes, looking at golden sunsets and feeling cool breezes, I prefer companionable silences to inane chatter. I prefer to look at the loving/peaceful/content smile beyond the raucous laughter.

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