A translation of Wasif Ali Wasif’s Urdu short “Khamoshi”
By: Abbas Ali
A quiet man is identical to an unfathomable, silent body of water. Silence itself is a secret, and the secret owner loves to be silent. Silence is the decoration of the wise and the safeguard of the fool. There is peace and tranquility in silence. If we review the miseries spread by the tongue, we shall realize how peaceful silence is. The talkative person becomes compulsive about talking with a mixture of the truth and lies. He has no time to ponder what should be discussed and what should not be articulated.
The masterpieces of nature are in a permanent and continuous state of silence, and the vast ranges of the mountains are silent. There are numerous stories hidden in this silence with tremendous grandeur. There are myriad secrets in this stillness. People will not understand how many treasures a mountain carries in its bosom, nor will they know. There are treasures under the hills, there are treasures on the hills, and the rocks of the mountains are a strange secret. Everything is silent; everything is still; sometimes, the wind cries in this eerie silence. The noise of the wind further clarifies the silence of the mountains.
The falling waterfalls from the mountains and their voices make the silence more meaningful. The effect of the silence deepens when a tiny voice creates an echo. When voices echo in the mountains, the stillness gets even denser. The silence of the hills is the silence of nature. People of heart make mountains their abode because of the same secret: they want to accomplish something in the proximity of nature, and nature loves silence.
A significant portion of our lives is spent in silence. The commotion and voices consume the day, but the silence rules the night. People, tired after a hard day’s work, become silent; beasts and birds are enshrouded in quietness. The hustle and bustle of the marketplace is gone, and the closed shops look like incoherent voices locked on the lips. The voice connects a person to others, but silence introduces him to himself. Using the voice to get people to do what you want them to do is a miracle, but using silence to get what you want for yourself is a wonder.
Life is such a secret, transforming even its acquaintances into a secret. A mystery does not remain a secret if we are not silent. It is said that a person was wandering in search of the secret of life. He asked many people about the mystery of existence. Nobody told him anything. He was frightened, he was perturbed, and he shouted. Ultimately, after getting disappointed, he became silent. One silent night, he heard his inner voice say, “O simpleton! You will not get the secret of existence by knocking at people’s doors. Have you hit at the entrance of your heart? ” He paid heed to his inner voice, thought it over, pondered it; he came to know, so much so that he became silent.
This secret is strange, closer than the jugular vein. The search for the secret is not the name of an external journey. This secret is the journey into one’s inner world. The secret is received from the inner person in silence, and once we get it, it turns us silent. Such is the ecstasy of silence that we are willing to sacrifice our instinct for speech. The natural companion of a person, the actual guide of a person, is his sensitivity. A person’s fundamental goal is himself. One needs to dive into one’s ocean to get the desired pearl. A voice is a veil, and silence is the key to the secret. The journey of the inner world, watching spectacles of the soul, the journey into the depths of the heart is the journey of silence.
We are not opposing rhetoric. However, silence is essential when we desire to uncover a secret. Afterward, it is the order of the mystery whether it will allow a person to talk or make him silent. Nevertheless, for the peace and tranquility of a person, no blessing is greater than the blessing of silence. The miracles of nature are adorned with silence. Let us take the example of the Sun. He has never put forth any arguments in support of his light. The Sun itself is proof that it is the Sun. He silently provides light to the world. He has never waited for words of appreciation from anybody. We have already mentioned that the Sun’s religion is light, and the light is always silent. Kindness is always quiet, and it is wasted if one boasts about it. The Moon is silent. How beautiful she is! What a luminous and bright spectacle she is, what a secret she holds, and how many miracles she possesses. Millions of stars are in silence, all stepping towards their goal, no noise, no hue and cry, no rant. Stars are brimming with secrets, pacing in their orbits, silently and satisfactorily. Spectacles of nature, appearances of nature, miracles of the heart, and the tongue of the soul is the tongue of silence.
It is a spectacle, and the entire world is a spectator. There are miracles in the sky and wonders on the earth, and they are all silent. The vastness, the incredible vastness of the deserts, too, is silent. These are strange tales of how deep a secret is: far-reaching deserts are thirsty deserts with parched but closed lips. The people of the heart know the meaning of memories of the desert and the thirst of the desert. The plains of panic, the valleys of passion, are silent and very silent. There is a great secret. Yes, there are storms in the ocean and tossing waves. However, the sea is quiet and very silent.
We cannot discuss the Creator because he is the Creator. It is challenging to talk about Him. He speaks to His beloveds, His prophets, and this discourse is strange. For the people of the world, the world’s Creator is silent. Despite His silence, there are discussions about Him, His talks, His publicity, and statements about His likes and dislikes. He is silent. He is the most prominent spectacle, the biggest secret, and the most silent. Accept him; he is silent; do not accept him; he is quiet. Worship him; he is silent. Rebell against him, he is still silent. The Creator of silence, Himself, is silent. Angels are silent, and the jinns are silent.
However, human beings talk and talk incessantly. If they are unable, to tell the truth, they will tell lies. They speak illusions, self-praise, and against nature. They complain against the Creator and talk about the miseries of life; they create unrest. King’s orders speak, rebellious speak, a human talking like a servant sometimes, at other times, talks like a title-holder, and he even discusses in silence. If there is no one to listen to, he talks to himself. He puts a question and answers it himself. He talks about virtue, and he threatens about punishments. Sometimes discusses the past and sometimes romances about the future.
Human beings speak either wisdom or nonsense, but they do not remain silent because they must face themselves in silence. Therefore, they do not face themselves. They know nothing, but how will they admit this truth? How will they say that they are fools and ignorant? They are nothing; what is the point of their existence? What is the value of their talks? They know their ignorance, and still, they do not remain silent. They know that it is the period of silence before birth, and afterward, there is silence. There is silence in life, too; they know everything; however, being silent is not their control. If they get sorrow, they tell the world. If they experience happiness, they relate to the world. They have one and only one passion, and that is the passion for talking. However, they need silence, sheer silence.
Human beings are interested in talking, so we observe every person saying something to another person. People speak in the vast expanse of words even if the meaning is absent. Moreover, while talking, the day comes closer when people realize that they have talked nothing but lies. They have talked meaningless words and used their voice without any cause. They have neither spoken to their natural companion nor asked any questions; this companion is their inner self. A silent companion is discovered silently. We wish, someday, we could face ourselves silently.
Wasif Ali Wasif (Qatra Qatra Qulzum pp.170-74)
Translator is a sr. Lecturer in Economics
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.