“If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it, does it still
make a sound?
If I scream in the silence, will anyone be around to hear it?”
I think of it as I sit there in the waiting room for my dentist’s appointment.
Tossing the phone between my hands, succumbing to the surge of rising unrest
until the door knocks and I am informed, it was my turn.
Going to the dentist’s and waiting in the ‘waiting room’ has always been my
favorite part, I would usually find myself seeking out for human interactions.
The scene of five to six women, sitting around a well carved wooden table
covered with magazines and scattered newspapers, a spherical clock that hung on
the top of the door fringe that seemed dull of life but savior of all those
women who sit there and eye it in utter awe with the hope of being called any
minute for the appointment. Interestingly, all of them craved human interaction
as much as I did, for making an escape from the tiresome wait but none would
make the first move and would delve into their mobile screens or would plug in
the hand free, instead. Frown on the face too obvious to be noticed and the eyes
reeling a little left and a little right in order to see what the next person is
onto. I would often observe and laugh over this occurrence. On each appointment
I experienced almost the same scenario but just with different women,every time.
For numerous times I planned to make the first move in conversing but each time
I would find myself carrying a book along or staring at my blank phone-screen,
probably emanating a different vibe of ignorance or introverted or maybe just
not interested, to others, reason why we don’t interact with each other on such
public gatherings, anymore? Our gestures and body language plays as the agents
of limiting our social circle and defining our definition of social reality.
What changed my conventionally knitted ideas of human bonding and initiative of
interaction was the sight of vulnerability covered with instant happiness. It
was my last follow-up appointment and maybe the last time to experience the air
of a dentist’s waiting room. I entered the waiting room, this time with no phone
in hand or cradling any book in my arm. I sat on one of the well cushioned
chairs, after about 15 minutes an elderly woman came in finding a place right
beside me. Without actually planning an interaction beforehand or without
thinking about the age gap in-between she started talking to me. We exchanged
some sentences, traded some words till I could feel the other women taking
interest in what we were talking, smiling at us as an attempt to be a part of
our communication, vulnerable to be a part of a social interaction. Within few
minutes the waiting room was full of chatters and giggles ranging from high
pitched to low pitched voices. Nobody cared who initiated, all wanted to join
in. I realized it wasn’t any sort of special interaction or it wasn’t a debate
over some particular topic but simple daily chores related discussion that had
us all absorbed in glee and immersed by the sense of being full, complete and
being socially heard.
We all experience such realizations every now and then that we don’t take heed
on. These realizations aren’t just your social fears laced with insecurities but
your soul striving for communication. We live in haphazard of 21st century,
where a man’s best ornament is his branded gadgets and maybe the only companion,
as well. We run a race against our natural instincts for material luring.The
reason why we find ourselves alone and detached for all the days we are to live.
We’ve build a set pattern to follow, a set of external criteria to live our life
according to underlying a hard set of rules to follow in communication, too,
Just like animals, humans have deep impulses as well . But unlike animals,
humans give up on their impulses following these external set criteria’s and
strident rules. Discovering these impulses and their process of manifestation is
discovering the long forgotten self. Just like that, naturally, since birth we
cater a strong impulse for communication and interaction but by involving
external patterns and criteria’s we call forth self-harm and under nourishment
of our personality which resultin a struggle to acquire more knowledge that
would calm the upheaval within, we only expand the horizons of the unknown,
creating a vertigo.
(The author is a freelance writer, based in Lahore)