The Sounds of silence Part 2
by Surabhi Kaushik
Read Part I of the story here
“At some point you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart, but not in your life.”
This was perfectly true for Gowri and Shankar. Three years had passed since their last meeting. Both had parted with heavy hearts and wounded souls. They never got in touch with each other. Shankar decided that he would respect Gowri’s decision. He loved her deeply and did not want to force her.
“The worst feeling in the world is that when you both love each other but still you just can’t be together.” Gowri on the other hand buried her feelings but couldn’t bury her love for him. However, she stood by her decision not to marry him, because she thought it was not fair to him. She knew it was not true. Shankar never coated his words or feelings with sympathy. He truly loved her.
It was 15th August, India’s Independence Day celebrations. Dressed in a crisp white cotton saree with golden threads shining on the border, Gowri stood behind the flag hoisting pole at Metro School for differently abled. There was a spark in her eyes. Her heart leapt with joy. She could hear music in the air. She had never been able to hear the real sounds of the world, but the happiness that bounced inside her,flew out as a song in the air. “The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.” – Carrie Jones. These words of the welcome speech caught everyone’s attention as the program began on the school podium.
Gowri looked at the attentive audience and gathered that the program had started. She walked across to the blue plastic chairs, opposite the stage area and sat down. Her eyes were fixed on the stage, hungry with anticipation. After the flag hoisting and cultural events, there was an announcement for the most outstanding students in the school.
Gowri came to the edge of her seat, barely able to contain her excitement. A young girl came on stage, received the medal and posed for photographs. She quickly spotted Gowri and beamed a smile of a thousand stars shining together. A wave of pride rushed through Gowri as she stood up and applauded loudly. Tears of joy rolled
out on her cheeks. Suddenly, she stared at the stage. She stopped clapping. She saw a tall man. She thought she knew him. It was Shankar standing beside her daughter Ria! He had handed her the medal and certificate. Gowri was so clouded with her excitement that she failed to notice Shankar on the stage. It took her a while to take it all in. Even among the thick crowd in the audience, Shankar flashed her a smile of recognition. Gowri smiled back.
After the program drew to a close, Ria ran to her mother and gave her a tight hug. The school Principal along with Shankar walked towards Gowri and Ria. “Congratulations Gowri” the Principal said to Gowri slowly. Reading his lips, Gowri understood the words and mouthed a silent thank you. She turned to Ria and looked at her with admiration. “Meet Gowri and her adopted daughter Ria, Mr. Shankar,” the Principal said. "Gowri has worked as a teacher in this school before. Now she works at an NGO for the differently abled. She has adopted Ria from the nearby orphanage and they both make a great team, as you can see,” he said laughing.
He turned to Gowri. “Please meet Mr. Shankar, he is a counsellor at many differently abled centres in the city. He also conducts special workshops for these children and helps them learn new skills. In other words, both of you are giving to the society the most precious thing.” He paused. “Your time”.
Their eyes met and they greeted each other with folded hands (Namaste). Gowri’s heart raced. It always did when Shankar was beside her.
Shankar could feel his nerves calming down. It was always soothing to see her.
“It is so wonderful to meet people like you” said the Principal as he excused himself and left.
“To serve is beautiful but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.” – Pearl S Buck.
Gowri and Shankar never knew that their paths would cross again. But maybe it was the purity of their love that bound them together no matter how far they flung away from each other. Within the sounds of silence they had found a voice; deep and clear which only they could hear. ***