Silencing a war

The shelling hadn’t subsided in what increasingly felt like days now. The shelling had become the only noise that was heard. The darkness in the shelter wasn’t as intimidating as before. The children had stopped weeping and the adults had started finding their voice. After four days of being holed up in a shelter which was meant to accommodate 20 people, the surviving 50 had a tough few days ahead of them. The Army occasionally dropped off supplies which were being rationed carefully. The mood was grim and a situation of this magnitude was unimaginable until a few weeks ago before the war broke out. Fortunes had turned and so had people’s faith. A curious and unsettling odour had taken over the shelter. Hope was dwindling and so were the supplies.

Some of the adults had become friendly. The situation they were in begged for a kindred that some of them would not be capable of in the outside world. Egos were trashed, rage was rationed and voices were kept to the minimum. Adversity was a strong adhesive yet their souls had begun to escape them. The earlier collective sighs of relief heard when the shelling would stop was now replaced by ignominious sounds, engulfed in the knowledge that it was just a false dawn. The war wasn’t going to end early, life wasn’t going to resume soon. A monotony had caught on and it was challenging everyone’s faculties when from beneath the misery and shadows, rose a voice:

chalte chalte, chalte chalte

yun hee koyee mil gaya tha

sare raah chalte chalte

vahee thamke reh gayee hai

meree raat dhalte dhalte

There was no tune but there was heart and there was a deep longing. They turned to her and she was sat in a corner, grime on her face, hair unruffled but the beauty wasn’t disguised. It shone in the little light that had been granted for this momentous occasion. There was no hurrah or applause but they willed her on. You wouldn’t hear it but they urged her to sing, they shouted and cheered deep down in their hearts. A little boy stood up and walked up to her, held her hand and sat next to her. The song was much before the little boy’s time but it soothed him, her voice calmed him. He would say much later, that her voice dried his tears up. She looked at him and began again, this time they formed a circle around her:

jo kahee gayee naa mujhase

woh jamaana keh raha hai

The shelling stopped briefly and her voice cut through the entire room now. The deafening silence was finally broken with her music and yes she began to find the tune and with it she discovered smiles in the room. Some of them began to sing along:

ke fasaana

ke fasaana ban gayee hai

meree baat chalte chalte

yun hee koyee mil gaya tha

sare raah chalte chalte

The shelling began but it didn’t stop the music. The singing just became louder, the children joined in as backup instruments as they didn’t know the words and fifty people were on their feet singing. Even this melancholic song managed to rouse everyone to regain their spirit.

For the first time in all the hours spent there, their voices were louder than the shelling. For just a few moments the girl’s voice convinced everyone that the war was over..




Silencing a war