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Most of us seem to avoid it, be it someone else’s voice falling on our ears or the voice of our own consciousness telling us something. It is the easy way out. Escapism. We often feel that by not listening, we are completely finishing the matter; actually we are cheating ourselves by being non- confronting and deciding not to help ourselves.
I recently saw a film named ‘Listen Amaya’ starring Deepti Naval, Farooq Sheikh and Swara Bhaskar in the lead roles. The film portrays a single mother raising her free spirited 23-year-old daughter, simultaneously running a book café in New Delhi. Just like the flowering of plumerias blossoming with the soft yellow sunny centres, as if a sun nestled in each white flower; gently the relationship of love, companionship, warmth unfolds between the Deepti Naval and Farooq Sheikh.
A strong-willed, modern, independent, budding writer, Amaya loves her mother yet seems to consciously avoid the repeated pleas of listening to her, stopping for a moment, to let the words and feelings sink in, about what her mother is trying to express. She finally hears what her mother has to share; yet it is devoid of listening to what is exactly being said. As is the case with most of us, we only listen to something to react not to actually listen to what the person is trying to convey. Amaya’s interior self, clouded with the fear of losing her mother and becoming second place made the entire listening stop. In the chaos of the waves of fear swirling inside, angry resentful reactions sprouted on the outside; ‘How can you have sex with another man besides my father’ and ‘What am I supposed to say to my friends, my mother is getting married; here is the invitation card.’
Fear of losing the apple of my eye designation from her mother had stopped all the listening, had stopped all the seeing. Fear had robbed her of gaining a new father, who was a brilliant photographer, who was writing a book with her, who was willing to patiently help her through her tantrums, who was there to support her mother and make her happy once again, reviving her spirit of womanhood.
The listening happens in the movie eventually but in a different way. Amaya listens to her fears; Deepti Naval listens to Amaya, apologising to Farooq Sheikh about not wanting a relationship which makes her daughter unhappy; Farooq Sheikh listens to his own pain, voicing it to Deepti Naval, which helps him to get over it. Then the healing happens.
We are all hurting so much inside, with various incidents taking place in our lives. Sometimes it is about a 40-year-old man stuck in an unhappy second marriage too fearful to break out of it owing to the society; too afraid to be happy. Sometimes it is a middle aged house wife working on household chores, finding the joy in complaining rather than understanding that happiness is more important than perfection. Sometimes it is a twenty-something old son/daughter who refuses to see how important tone can be and breaks off relationships with the closed ones owing to hearing only what he/she wants to.
Listening requires patience and just like letter writing is a dying art form, patience is not far behind to reach the endangered level category. Perhaps if the 40-year-old man learnt to listen to his unhappiness rather than hearing the society’s boos, perhaps if the lady learns to listen to time’s ticking’s about life to be enjoyed now rather than saving it up for later, or if the 20+ individual understands listening requires patience like reading between the lines, perhaps there is hope.
But as of yet, unlike teenagers, whose age and wilderness has a shelf life, not listening to one-self does not have a shelf life; it continues to spread across generations and all age groups. It is currently under the category of some disease; viral and incurable. Do help out if you find an antidote!
Till then! Happy Listening!
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