"Let us learn today, what our eyes, ears and mouth are for"
Throughout our school, we chanted this song- clapping our hands-queued up in morning assembly. It explained about the proper use of those three. It said that there are equal good and bad things in this world. We should learn to filter and only hear, see and speak good ones. Alas, it was a mere routine for us at those days. Neither the age nor the maturity guided us to ponder over what it meant. Such moral values are taught to us by teachers, parents and elders from our childhood. However, when we grow up and enter the practical life, the race and struggle for survival and success make those fade like a writing of ink on an old paper.
I had an opportunity to attend a workshop with Oscar nominee filmmaker Irene Tylor Brodsky on US embassy's invitation. A few minutes on Google told me that she had made films on heart touching subjects based on different parts of the world. Documentaries are not my forte but a day and interaction with such an accomplished personality sounded tempting enough.
During the workshop, she shared a portion of her much acclaimed and awarded film, 'Hear and Now.' A film maker, if not personally attached to the subject and characters, cannot do full justice. However, what made this one stand out from her other works was that she was attached not only personally, but also emotionally on the subject. The film was made on her own ageing parents.
Both her parents could not hear the sound from their birth. They met at a special school where speaking is taught through various other methods such as vibration and lip reading. Their friendship later resulted in their marriage. They have three grown up children. They have overcome the lack of sound and adjusted in their silent life. They are normal like any other person and can speak. Though the pronunciations are slightly different, anyone can understand what they speak.
Suddenly when they are in their late sixties, they decide to go for a cochlear implant which mightenable them to hear the sound. They want to hear the orchestra, the voice of their children and want to know what it is like talking on a telephone. There is no certainty of the success of the implantation. One of them, both of them or none of them might hear. They have spent a lifetime together, doing everything together and being similar to each other. God forbidden, if this implantation makes one of them different from the other, what consequences will it invite in their life? 'Hear and Now'deals with these questions.
I was very involved as I found the film raising hidden questions than those which appeared on surface. I wanted to see the ending. But the irony was- Irene didn’t show us the whole film and it was not available in the local market. YouTube and torrent search were futile.
I was deeply moved by the film and have been asking few questions to myself since then. How would it be for a person to hear the actual sounds of everything after only knowing the silence for 65 long years? Isn't the definition of the sound read and understood completely different than the cacophony around us? Can such a person find anything in common and accept it? I have heard people coming from Vipasyana(A twelve days meditation program held in the silent hills at the outskirts of Kathmandu valley where total silence is maintained.) say that they find it very difficult to adjust to the sound of the city for many days. Here, we are talking about a couple who have never heard anything for sixty five years.
I put myself in Irene's parent's shoes and thought. What would I do if someone had suggested me a cochlear implant at the stage when they went for it? Sound is one word but we can't even remember how many variations it has. Not all the sounds are soothing to the ears. Even if I could practically apply what we chanted throughout school, would it make any difference? Could I hear only good things till everyone else around me did not speak only good things?
Along with the voices of my family and friends, music, rustle of the wind against the tree leaves, chirping of birds, my hearing capacity would give me a lot of noise and cacophony of the modern world in a package deal. After adjusting to the silence all my life, would I feel the need of sound (and noise) in my life?
When I thought more about it, with full respect to what Irene's parents decided (probably because I know the difference between the sound and the noise), I would not have gone for a cochlear implant.