Its a beautiful night. Three of us are walking back home through the back lanes. There is hardly any traffic, the air is balmy. The boy keeps yapping. Papa is tired, and he is quiet. I am tired of balancing the act.
'You know, Pavan, you have to learn to let others talk sometimes. If you talk continuously, it is called hogging the space.'
'What is hogging?'
'Eating it all up by yourself.'
'How hogging? Everyone can talk.'
'If everyone talks, no-one will listen. See, there is a thing called silence. All of us have a right to it. In fact, it is our only right. And it is the most beautiful, the most vast gift God has given us.'
We walk two steps.
Before he can talk, I make the offer. 'You wanna try using it? This right of silence?'
'Then just listen. Listen to all the different sounds of the night. We will all be very quiet. Later you can tell me which sounds you heard. Ok?'
We walk silently. Papa's flipflops flip and flop. Pavans sandals tut tut. I am barefoot. But my skirt rustles, ever so softly.
An ambulance hoots in the distance. Pavan's eyes glow with the recognition of the sound. I signal to him to tell me later, a finger on my lips. A bird chirps. Pavan stops to 'hear' the direction, a finger on his smiling lips.
Papa holds my hand. Pavan holds my other hand.
As we turn into our street, the power is cut off. Silence and darkness embrace lovingly and kiss long and slow. They are meeting after such a long long time. In fact, in this country they are meeting for the first time.