Muffled cries

Muffled cries, pillow tears and secret pains.

How often do we cry when nobody watches?

Once heard the story of a man, Ben, who had nothing but one fish – Luke. Not poor, he had a good job but lived alone. Ben had lost everyone he ever called friend or family. 

So every day, Ben got something for Luke on his way from work. On getting home, he would spend hours at the aquarium just watching Luke eat, jump and run around his little aquatic paradise. Used to fill him with so much joy. It would calm his nerves, relieve his pain, drain his thoughts. Sometimes Ben even talked to, sang to him…for as long as possible. He would report a colleague, share an idea he had, or just vent. Sometimes it looked like Luke could hear, cos he would stay in one spot only jiggling here and there. Other times, he really didn’t care.

Ben loved him anyway, whether he was in the mood to listen or not.

One day, Luke didn’t come up to play – at first. Looked like he was fixated on something at the floor of his abode, until Ben, in worry, shook the aquarium. Then he came up, only briefly, before returning to his business. 

‘Wonder what I did’ the man thought, as he retired to bed that night. ‘Did I say something, feed him too late?’ ‘I must have him looked at tomorrow.’

At midnight, the whole neighbourhood woke up to the sound of blazing alarms. There had been a power surge, which had, in turn, triggered power cuts here and there. In some places, the current went too low, in others, too high. As Ben returned to his apartment, silently grateful for the surge protector he had installed only last week, suddenly he remembered! He hadn’t connected the aquarium. He had sent it for cleaning at the time and had made a mental note to connect when the aquarium was returned. But he never remembered, until now.

He rushed back in, and straight to Luke’s corner…only to find the worst sight he’d ever see, maybe in his lifetime. There, floating lifelessly, was Luke, the one calamity of the power surge. You would think Luke lost a child…or did he? His cries attracted the neighbours, who rushed over to see what the matter was.

It was a painful sight. Everyone knew what Luke meant to Ben. You couldn’t spend an hour with Ben without knowing all about his single most important possession in the world. Amid pats, gasps, encouraging chatter, and company, Ben just stared blankly.

Hours later, still crouched in one corner, all the mourners returned to their houses, as dusk gave way to dawn, all Ben could say was:

“Wonder if Luke cried out as the surge squeezed the life out of him.” “Did if he shout aloud and I was too human to make out his cry.” “Wonder if he knew and stayed close to the aquarium bed as the only SOS sign he knew.”

Muffled cries, pillow tears and secret pains.

Soundless screams.

Silent agonies.

Bedtime sorrows.

How many of us walk around smiling but crumbling inside? How many have the appearance that we’ve got it figured out, but we are scared shitless within? How many of us are crying out desperately for help, yet none can hear us?

During those silent moments, scary times, dark nights, rainy days and sad periods, when the world is oblivious to our pain, who can hear us?

You know, if we had a way of letting out the harmful, murderous pus, we would.

But, mostly, we struggle for years, nursing the burning, hurting sensation as it travels through our veins, causing havoc, killing us one day at a time.

Wonder if Luke screamed at the top of his voice, yet nobody heard him. Not even Ben, whose attention mattered the most to him.

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