The sound of Silence

A short story by Hamdan Ali Khan, 1st Year MBBS



The old man sat on the beach, barefooted and alone. Silence reigned everywhere except the occasional thrashing of waves which disturbed the acoustic equilibrium. Night it was, the sky filled with a million lanterns, the birds dozing off quietly and the sea like an old pirate sang a silent shanty. Oh! He missed his youth, when he could swim to the Black Rock without drowning, when he could shout at the vast ocean, his resonant voice fading upon the edges of horizon. But all good things come to an end, the voice that once resonated; now a husky whisper. The man who was the fastest swimmer; now an ancient remainder of time and its echoes. The doctors said he had terminal cancer that he would die in a week. He didn’t fear death, he had no family, nothing to lose except maybe the sight when someone would break his 50 years old record. The silence of the calm sea nurtured in him a desire to swim to the Black Rock once again, one last time. He just wanted to prove that the song of silence can be turned into a shanty. Without thinking he jumped into the cool water and flailed around. He swam with all his might and covered three-fourths of the distance. At this point, his body started giving away; he was drowning, he didn’t care, just a yard left, just a bloody yard.....He just wanted to touch that black pinnacle of hope. He just wanted to swim once again. But alas! They found his body in the morning anchored in the seaweed, a foot away from the Black Rock, an expression of triumphant defeat on his face. The silence of sea was broken by seabirds, cackling and laughing, perhaps mocking his attempt to turn silence to sound.


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