Sound and Fury by Gautam Dhanokar

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Sound and Fury

by – Gautam Dhanokar, Vol.II, Issue.XXIII, December 2016

Introduction to the Author:

Gautam is a 39-year-old post-producer working with an ad production house in Mumbai. One can’t really call him an avid reader; on and off at best. But he is most definitely a complete cynic with a tendency to examine issues around him with a sceptical eye, peppering his writing, if you can call it that, with self-deprecating humour. You can assess his work at


Being an inherently nervous person, I have often contemplated the possible causes that have made me so. Besides the extensive grudge held by nature against me from the womb, I have found myself zeroing in on another cause that substantially challenges the former for the crown- the sounds that surround me.

For every occasion in this wide and varied land there seems to be only one answer- Song and dance, and other complimentary sounds. Hardly a venue remains, except possibly funeral grounds with good reason of course, that isn’t infused with ear-splitting sound, ensuring that I am reduced to a nervous wreck, if I wasn’t already; no harm in reconfirming I mean.

It is not an uncommon experience to get stuck in the middle of religious or wedding processions on narrow roads, merrily celebrating the occasion, exercising their freedom of speech and expression. Dancing on the streets seems to be a way of letting go and celebrating life for most Indians, for want of suitable venues I reckon. Not to be outdone of course, trapped motorists register their protest by honking their roofs off, initially in a haphazard manner, and when they see no impact being had, joining in the rhythm, creating a unique orchestra of sorts; might as well enjoy the detention seems to be the attitude. Silence may be golden, but, despite the ever-soaring gold prices, the unfortunate blighter weighs nothing on the scale, and hence is worth naught.

From reverberating solid-metal bells in shrines to maddeningly innovative mobile ring tones, tacky hip-swinging songs in the movies to fireworks celebrating special family occasions since the 187 festivals are not nearly enough, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that living in this land is nothing short of an assault on the senses, and particularly an offence to the ear drums. The land is richly blessed with animated talkers tailored with a booming voice regardless of gender. What a waste it seems to me for some people to pay their phone bills when, given their naturally boisterous voices merged with a robust will to unleash them, they could be conveying their views far and wide without the aid of any devices.

And when it comes to sound, how could Diwali- the festival of lights be far behind. And here, it is important to highlight Diwali as the festival of lights, for it could just as easily be misunderstood to be one of sound. One can understand firing colourful rockets into the night sky, lighting sparkling fuljharis, glittering anaar trees, or scattering chakris of various hues; all of these engaging the visual senses. It’s a different matter that granting a break to the poor overworked ears is just a clever ruse by these attractive pyrotechnics. They more than make up for the grand gesture by masterminding a lethal assault on the lungs. However, at least they are visually a treat to watch.

But, what is even the point of what I believe are locally known as rassi bombs or atom bombs. When found inadvertently in the society of these nasty little brutes better men than I have jumped several feet and shaken to the core. Just a sudden jarring of the ear drums, and what’s more, continuing to jar in every limb for quite some time after. There appears to be no semblance of the festival of lights in it. I fail to comprehend which part of it is music to the ears. No stretch of the imagination at any angle or length assists me in gauging how one could find this amusing.

Diwali also seems to inadvertently provide a convenient mark for the annual calendar for other city life forms. The intolerable sound of relentless fireworks must inevitably signal to stray animals and birds that the New Year is upon us and, I imagine, they must strike off a year from their calendars accordingly. Conceive their surprise then when there are random fireworks yet again in celebration of the men in blue, once in a while, registering an important win in cricket, leaving them entirely disoriented by throwing their calendars off schedule.

Another contributor to the communal sound family, since the others put together fell short of the intended effect, is the reverse horn for cars. I recall an occasion when I was at an auto parts store trying to get a bargain on something insignificant. I noticed a fellow customer going about testing some car reverse horns with the view of buying the most suitable one. An assortment of reverse horns with mounting degrees of annoyance were being eagerly presented with gay abandon and disgustedly rejected with equally vile rebuke, until one particularly annoying one finally made the grade. He smiled a menacing smile that said to me- “Oh how this horn annoys me despite having braced for its intended effect. Imagine how much it will annoy the unsuspecting gullible passers-by. Just what I need! Done deal!”

As I got chatting with the vile customer, I dropped a hint, as politely as I could, as to why car reverse horns are needed after all. I pointed out that cars have been able to reverse just fine for a considerable while before now without the aid of horns. My words seemed to displease him and he shot a sharp look at me. Eyeing me with contempt, I could see that the vile customer regarded me as some sort of a rural stooge.

Besides, there seemed to him a perfectly practical purpose for the foul thing after all. In case he knocks into someone passing behind his car while reversing, he can officially state that the right amount of care had been taken to warn about his movements, thus freeing him from any moral responsibility and enabling him to pounce upon and launch into knuckling the sinning passer-by with no shackles whatsoever. How considerate of him I thought.

Having been enlightened with this thoughtful core function of the reverse horn, I am proud to say, since then I have instilled substantial nimbleness of the feet instinctively triggered with practically no delay at the sound of a reverse horn anywhere in the vicinity. What a pity they don’t allow cars to be reversed at track-and-field events; seems like a deliberate ploy to take away a legitimate career choice of mine.

For eons now Man has been considered as the final word of Nature, but I beg to differ. In designing man, I thoroughly feel, nature has committed a minor flaw which, thankfully, our great and ancient land offers a grand stage to rectify. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped the notice of anyone that man is abundantly equipped with the choice of shielding the precious eyes from an eyesore by the mere act of closing the eyelids.

Where the snag lies, I’d like to draw attention to, is that no such protection seems to be lent to the unfortunate ears. Why such step-brotherly treatment I wonder! And here is where I spot evolution coming to the aid of the party and playing its bit by making humans evolve hitherto unheard of auricular parts called ear lids, thus helping keep out infernal noise when one chooses to, which is more often than not I reckon. Without a doubt this is the next step in human evolution; just the thing that is needed. It seems to be in order to keep the overloaded cerebrum from vaporizing.

Oh how I wish to live to see that day, if only to pass away in sound peace.

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