Grey Silence

It rocked with a peculiar squeaky sound and he just wouldn’t let it stop. It appeared as if Bryan would speak up any moment now – “Stop rocking the hell out of me!! What is wrong with you?”

He continued to search for his much desired obscurity, sitting by the old rocking Bryan, on a flimsy wooden stool; his hair unkempt, eyes red with lack of sleep and weariness dripping from his face.

Shail had not moved a muscle for past two days. For some reason unknown to me, you and his beloved parakeet, Anna – he had just sat staring out of the huge glass window for the past forty eight hours. It were as if he were in trance, sitting and rocking Bryan. Strange as it may sound but he called his rocking chair Bryan, the sturdy old companion had been with him for a decade now.

The glass window was what had made him fall in love with that house, a massive bungalow overlooking the beach. Shail had always loved nature; he drank in the beauty of the scenic view day in and day out; never getting tired of the red ball being gulped by the vast ocean.

Shail wasn’t always such a jerk. He might have been the only person living in that house with Anna the parakeet, Margret the baby tortoise and Shylock the german shephard, but he was a happy man, until two days ago.

After two days of dead silence and the squeaky Bryan, the house was alive again. Shail moved, he went to his kitchen and prepared some tea. As he drank it, he leaned back on Bryan and closed his eyes; they hurt, tiny pearls of salty water began to escape his eyes and fell on his white Kurta.


He often dressed in kurta and a pair of jeans, like a journalist. Deceptive as his looks were, he was nowhere close to being one. He owned an art gallery; the city’s finest and most talked about – ‘Venetia Art Gallery’.

It was just another day; Shail was looking after a client’s exhibition when the phone rang. He picked it up and warmly greeted the caller, “Hello, this is Shail, how may I help you?”

Those were the only words he had spoken in last 72 hours. His assistant at the gallery asked him what the matter was but he just wouldn’t speak, not a single word.

‘The doorbell rang again, the fifth time since the day before, but it was only now that he moved. It was the postman, with a cream coloured envelope in his hand addressed to Shail. It had calligraphy on it, like old times written in ink.

He opened it and without reading kept it on the table before him. He knew what it said, perhaps the phone call and letter were linked.

The letter said,

“Dear Mr. Shail,

We are very pleased to inform you that ‘Venetia Art Gallery’ has been nominated for the ‘National Modern Art Museum’. It would be kind of you to accept the offer and complete the legalities on or before 8 pm, 19th November.”


Wasn’t that supposed to be a reason to be happy, to celebrate?

Shail had always wanted such recognition in his field and now when the clock was ticking and just 2 hours remained until the deadline, he was rocking in his chair and sipping tea.

Shail didn’t move as he rested the cup on the letter. The clock ticked and it was 7.30 pm. The phone rang again, this time he held the receiver and smiled; smiled because Mahua was out of danger now.

Mahua had had to be put on a life support system, her failing lungs giving up on her. At the age of 64, she had little chance but Shail wanted to leave no stone unturned. Mahua was his childhood nanny, but like a mother to him, perhaps even more. Shail had just mortgaged his gallery to pay for her treatment and was glad to know she was recovering. A few years added to his nanny’s life gave him much more peace than the letter on the table.

But during those two days when none of it was sure for him, he looked for no shoulder and no support but obscurity and silence.

He knew that sometimes life’s hardest decisions were easier when silence is your only companion.

Meghna Baveja