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Loud Silence

a tale of resounding emptiness filled with unspoken words

By Sidra AnjumPublished 4 months ago 4 min read

Divya and Anand lived as a couple, their marriage of twelve years cloaked in an unspoken and regretful sadness that hung in the air like a heavy fog. They had shared the same four walls, yet silence between them was louder than any argument they had ever had. The once-happy Hindu couple found themselves in the hollow depths of an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage. They were bound together by societal norms, but the embers of their fierce love had long faded into a mournful silence.

The memory of their futile attempts to bring a child into the world still lingered in the air, poisoning their every moment together. They had not shared a bed since that heart-wrenching experience, and the distance between them only grew with time.

They live in silent misery until one day, they receive a call to attend a distant relative's funeral procession in Chandigarh. With moral obligation tugging at their hearts, they leave their hometown in Pune for Chandigarh the following morning. Divya and Anand mutually decide to act content in front of their relatives to hide the shameful secret of their failed marriage.

Despite being miles away from each other emotionally, they were forced to live in a closed space, in the small and quaint chamber owned by their hosts, bustling with guests. Though they had never shared a bed back in Pune since their frustrating attempt to birth a child, they spent their first few nights on a foul-smelling and rough mattress provided by their welcoming but gossipy hosts.

However, these nights of close proximity were not enough to mitigate the years of distance and resentment between them. As delightful as they posed in front of people, they would return to their room every day feeling deep sorrow and regret.

One fateful night, the couple returns to their host’s rusty and wretched apartments after getting groceries and they get stuck in the building’s lift due to a power outage. After some time, Divya starts feeling suffocated, and Anand hesitantly offers her water from the shopping bag. As Divya breathes heavily and gets visibly agitated by the darkness in the lift, Anand regretfully reminisces about a past event of his childhood, when he too was breathless as he was locked inside a dark cabin in his boarding school as a punishment from pestering bullies.

Stuck in that lift, he looks at Divya and sees a woman he has never seen before—a weak and tired woman. She no longer looked like the strong, independent woman who could do everything -from house chores to grocery shopping, all by herself. Instead, she looked as if she could depend on someone, and deep down, Anand desperately hoped it would be him. At that moment, he realizes that his relationship with his wife is just like being stuck in that lift with no way out as the darkness envelopes them; and they are lonely together, in the most ironic way possible.

While comforting Divya in the darkness, he gathers the courage to say what he could not for twelve years; he apologizes for the distance between them—and most unexpectedly, for not being able to give her a child. Divya feels a lump at the back of her throat -as she realizes that her inadequacies and shortcomings were not to be blamed for their distance. Instead, it was merely her husband's insecurities that had kept them away for so long. She feels almost sorry for him.

Divya leans her hand to caress his face, marked with tear stains, when suddenly the light comes back and the lift doors open to reveal their impatient relatives waiting outside, worried for their safety. Soon, Divya and Anand find themselves surrounded by a crowd of enthusiastic relatives who ask them endless questions. But instead of replying, they just smile at each other woefully, across the distance -in a moment that is unarguably the loudest silence between them, filled with long-lost compassion and love.

On their way home to Pune, a beggar child leaves a pamphlet in their train cabin that reads, "Chandigarh Council of Child Adoption and Welfare." Divya watches as Anand looks at her, with keen hope, as he eventually lifts the pamphlet from the dusty train floor, delicately folds it, tucking it safely in his pocket.

ExcerptYoung AdultShort StoryMicrofictionLoveFable

About the Creator

Sidra Anjum

Stars, secrets whispered by ancient skies, each constellation, a saga in timeless guise,

I gaze upon the night with starlit eyes, in its celestial tapestry, my spirit forever lies.

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