Those were times

when voices really mattered;

one paid close attention

to diction, tone, texture,

pitch, throw, and what-have-you,

discerning everything that rested  on the lines

that were uttered:

it was as if listening was an act

done in a province of the blind,

the attention span and awareness

quite simply absolute.


These days,

one listens only to reply

overlooking every nuance

in the voices one hears

and if one had one’s way

everyone would be reduced

to being only at the receiving end

as what only mattered

was the voice one held.


Nowadays when the clock

is sometimes wound in reverse,

the voice of Shankaranarayanan

emerges out of nowhere

with matchless calm and pace,

announcing, say,

a death or disaster in the headlines

of AIR’s Malayalam news at 7.25 am

as if reminding one to be equanimous

in all situations as the Gita exhorted !

One longs for those days in vain,

but hope returns soon:

one is reminded

there is RJ Sayema

still in our midst

to read with empathy

a Manto story

or those wonderful lines

from Ghalib or Nida Fazli

in a voice that appears

to epitomise

everything that is good.



p22 (c) pradeep gopalan





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