Monday, 19 January 2015

Whisper a Prayer in the Morning

Sunday School also taught me a lot of songs. Even though i was the worst singer throughout the three or four years i attended it there was no harm in liking songs. The one i liked the best was 'Jesus Bids Us Shine' and that was because of my favourite 'you in your small corner, and i in mine' line. There was a song which i never had an affinity to. It was just a song among many. But when i think of her voice i think of this song. It's called 'Whisper a Prayer in the Morning'. [I shouldn't be giving a link to the song. They are only children and singing so beautifully already!]

When i first heard her voice i didn't know it was her. She was fooling me. Still does. I pretend to have known it all from the beginning. When we talked through one night in kochi, where coffee was made in a microwave and where there was only laughter and only sunshine, for the first time in my life i heard someone say nice things in an almost whisper. I didn't hear her. I listened. That was before i heard Arundhati Roy speak. She is the only other person whom i have heard speak that way. But then again she didn't come with coffees made in microwave. Huge difference. Hard luck, Ms Roy. It would never have worked between us anyway.

I don't think i can whisper. I don't have her voice. People threaten to kick me out of places owing to my laughter and my coarse high pitched voice. May be that was why i always hated people who spoke softly. If they had to say something important why wouldn't they speak up. Always wanted women to speak as loud as they could. I have heard Sethuvamma speak softly only in front of my uncles. Then she had a made up soft voice. It made her look and sound weak. And even as a child when i didn't know of my uncles' patriarchal stances i always felt like wringing her throat to coax her original voice out. I thought that gave a definite edge in male spaces. I have never let someone silence me with sound. If they hollered i hollered back and never left till i said what i had to. But she, she didn't blare. She simply slipped in silently into my head and settled there, soft voice and all.

I remember when she finally said her name after a lot of fooling around, i had missed the first syllable. Wha-? I asked and cut her speech in between. She repeated it still in the same soft voice till it finally made it past the cortex and into my brain. And it was in the same soft voice that i heard her teach her heart to say 'eesho' after a sneeze. It was how i heard her sing praises to the 'slow cooker'. God, does she love that thing! Anybody would wish they were born a crock pot! How i heard her speak about 'space'. Her voice never occupied any space, i think. It just carved niches in people's hearts. By people i mean me.

So i never whispered a prayer in the evening or morning and i know that no jesus is going to come at noon. But she was always in her small corner, and i, listening in mine. When i saw a child and hated it she would be in the same spot, not budging an inch from the darkness of it all and teaching it to say 'eesho'. When i dodged people's hits she would head it straight back, all with the softness of her voice, the absence of her space. Sometimes i would stand on rooftops and jump up and down trying to topple her from that chair in the corner inside me. I wanted her to fall into an open iota and be washed away in blood. I wanted to smear her with the sicknesses my fluids bore. But she simply floated. Plasma like. Later Coagulated. Dried on the edges of my veins.

She never had to whisper. She was one.

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