First guests of the monsoon and here we welcomed a bunch of oldies whom we recognize as dad’s chuddy buddies. We are finely acquainted with these faces for we have often seen the group titling, jiggling and even bursting into laughter at weddings, Bhog ceremonies or other gatherings. This time it was an After Party at a carefully chosen venue at our home as they say home is a perfect place to return to when you have nothing better to do. So here the group enters with a lot of hustle and bustle, though difficult to understand due to the coarseness of the aging Adam’s apples in the throat of the speakers. The group seemed to have met after a long interval as the corresponding hot months did not witness any weddings or parties. A recognizable authoritative voice ordered the oriental but gentleman’s drink: Tea. So the household became busy arranging the snacks as the friends settled themselves in the Drawing room to discuss anything to everything.
As expected this gathering of these friends has to be full of gossip: a sport which is bought to its ultimate refinement by these Time Machines. But the usual Déjà vu types of situation seemed to be somewhat different this time. The clattering of the vocal cords suddenly faded away as if the guests have left! To my surprise it was too early for them to leave from a meeting which often resulted in consumption of at least two hours. I was still confused with their early departure when the sound resumed. Again the house echoed with conversations from nowhere to nowhere. The hot simmering cups of tea were ready to add sweetness to the loud chitchat. The trays trekked from one guest to another and reinforced the narrations which these friends loved to take with a pinch of salt from each other.
The household after serving tea got occupied in winding up the kitchen and simultaneously waited for the next orders. But what was that the sound died away again. This time for a longer interval and longer to the extent that the kid in the house was selected, as a common practice in Punjabi households, to go and check whether the guests have left. And to my embarrassment the child shouted from the top of the pitch "Baithe ne Hale” (Guests are still there). Embarrassed by the version, I somehow mustered up the courage to tell the kid to return back to the bedroom immediately as my damage control act. I tried to manage the kid from not repeating the act and putting the whole family as well as the guests in an awkward situation but the child with her experience figured the fun out of the thing and wanted to do repeat the act. My mind was trapped between the kid control as well as the misery of the sudden silence for a pretty long interval and then a rapid recommencement of the talks.
Finally I took the decision and went for my turn to investigate the matter and start my own little spying. Smartly escaping the eyes of the guests I pin towed towards the drawing room and peeped through the curtains. Now I know the secret of this stillness, to my surprise it was the smart phones in the hands of all the pals who were suddenly detached from their usual tittle-tattle and would bow their heads to their mobile screens which would make them virtually disappear from the scene. I felt as if I was captured by a fit of mixed emotions including humor and amazement as I witnessed a ‘New Old’ generation engrossed with WhatsApp and lost in their personal virtual worlds in front of me. The pattern of this silence became so perfect that I didn’t even realize when the guests actually left the house turning those intervals of silence into an eternal silence of the drawing room sofas.