Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The many faces of silence

No, I’m not through reading D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow. At one point, reading about the Brangwens, and Ursula and Skrebensky’s extended love affair, became a drag. But I’m plodding on. Have less than fifty pages (and a few appendices) to go. Think I’ll take some break from Lawrence’s works after this. Though I’m considering reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) soon. Meanwhile, I’ve started reading a couple of books over the past few weeks. One of these is Bem Le Hunte’s The Seduction of Silence. So far, so good. Okay, I’ll admit it, it was the title (and the cover) that first attracted me to Le Hunte’s first work. Plus the fact that I was able to buy a copy for only 75 piso. I would have brought Dorris Lessing’s The Four-Gated City, or this work by a journalist who documented his experiences working on environmental issues in the Amazon. Lessing’s book was thicker but had the same price. The Amazon book was more expensive (as it was printed on acid-free paper). But Le Hunte’s book seemed more exotic. Leafing through the first few pages, one is immediately engrossed in the epic tale of Aakash and his spiritually enchanted existence at the Himalayan mountainsides.

But even more interesting are the scattered references in the novel about Silence (yes, with a capital “S”) and what it means. Le Hunte, true to her background as a lecturer in Cambridge, even provided some guide questions at the end of the book. Reminded me of Bob Ong’s study guides in Stainless Longganisa. So, here are some of these interesting passages (the ones I’ve read):

“Go into the Silence and find the Reality that informs your existence. Then you will see everything as sacred. Your eyes will fill with tears for this life that you have been given. You will look at the blue skies above and know that there is more – much, much more to life.”

“So Aakash continued his life with his accidental wife, his earthly existence that is, while his spirit took on a life of its own. He allowed himself to slip further into Silence, because it was only in Silence that he felt fulfilled.

“Until Tulsi Devi arrived, Ram was an only child for many years. Alone, not just because he had no siblings for that period of time, but because there was nobody around but his father who could understand the world as he knew it. Unlike his sister in later years, he would never take to the fields and discover freedom away from the confines of his house. Instead, he built up a relationship with Silence and learnt how to enjoy its poise, like still water in a tub.”

“It occurred to Bahadur that to be nowhere was actually the same as being everywhere. In this reverberating space he felt himself being called to move forward and take his first steps toward eternity. The calling was so loud it could have filled the entire night sky and the galaxies beyond with its wide-open invitation to explore further. Yet all that noise was contained in a shell of Silence.”

“In the face of death Ram tried to find Silence in his mind so that he could hear his father’s words. What would Aakash have done in this place? What would his advice be now? He thought about his home. The Silence that sealed the hills of Prakriti from the rest of the world. He remembered how the rain clouds used to hover close to his father’s farm when the plants needed to be watered. How much trust his father had in the forces of nature. How his father always repeated that “God will provide”. It was then Ram knew that what they were searching for was the power and potential of Silence. It was the bliss of Silence and the prospect of a great and soulful adventure that had lured them from the help of Prakriti, and it was Silence that now evaded them in this orgy of spirituality.”

“It wasn’t as if Aakash had done something dishonorable. Taking up sannyas was a respectable sequel to a life of dynamic activity, if he had only waited just a few more years. No, the shame came from the fact that everyone around her suspected that she had driven him to it. That the loudness of her discontent had driven him into the arms of Silence.”