Shadows and Sounds

The window in my room looks out onto the window of another room, so close that I can hear its occupant sigh on silent nights. I am finicky about my privacy and have kept the shutters down ever since this adjacent building has come up. My neighbour does so too. We see each other’s shadow move on the white shutters on blindingly sunny days. On most days though, we are just sounds to each other. A sigh of tiredness, peals of laughter, blurs of distant conversations, something breaking with a loud crash followed by angry curses, shooing away pigeons from the window sill, the click of high heels, and occasional sobs; we’ve heard each other for three years. My mind is accustomed to blend these sounds from a veiled life into the background.
She is young. And in love. I could hear her mumble discreetly late into the night, on the phone with her lover obviously. The incoherent mumblings are often interspersed with muffled laughter. A shared joke perhaps. Sometimes I hear her hurl a book onto the wall, the loud thud waking me up. A fight. I know I will be hearing sniffles and “All I Know” for long hours. Sometimes a song grows roots in my mind and I’m unable to shove it out for days. It gets irritating then. I like the days when she plays old Hindi songs. Today it was Kishore Kumar. ‘O Mere Dil Ke Chain‘ will play in a loop in my mind today. She has a melodious voice; every morning I hear her sing the aarti and try to synchronize my quick prayers with it, as I can’t sing to save my life.
Despite having no intention of interacting with each other, I have become more conscious of this invisible witness to my life. I am more polite now, I shout less. It’s like The Truman Show, but only the audio. The angry curses that were negligible to begin with are extinct now. The decibel levels have declined on both sides.
A couple of days ago, I heard the sound of uruli from her room. A wedding is in the offing. Soon there will be no more angry thuds of books crashing against walls. I would be able to open the shutters of my room window. I’ll be the only one shooing off the stubborn pigeons. My sobs or laughter won’t have to be muffled anymore. A shadow would no longer be privy to my life. I won’t be privy to the jubilant and melancholic phases of a love story, which will be culminating in a marriage soon.
I’ll miss the Kishore Kumar songs though.

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