After a 52 day sojourn in Thailand, I reached India a couple of weeks ago. I had the fortune of staying with my friend’s family in Kolkata. I was fed home cooked food with utmost love by his mother for a whole week.
Both her sons are working in different cities and her husband is a working man who isn’t home for the most part of the day.
I would love to spend time with her in the afternoons, which she would usually spend alone, all by herself. She enjoyed my company too, and shared so many of her stories with me. It felt as if she didn’t have anyone to speak to for a long time.

On the first day she seemed to be a shy and introverted woman. But as she got to spend time with someone who would listen to her patiently, she opened up and spoke freely with joy.

During my stay in Kolkata, I also met with a school friend who’s been preparing for an entrance exam for a year at home.
We met up and he spoke on and on for hours on end. I felt happy to be there and give him company, for it felt as if he had not spoken to someone openly for a long time.

While in Delhi, I met a brave friend of mine who’s mother has been bed ridden for four years now. We used to play a lot of music together and share great brotherhood.
He also, had so much to talk about when we met. He spoke of his struggle, the hardship, his mother’s fighting spirit and his newfound belief in Buddhism. Despite his extroverted nature, I knew he had few people who he could talk to about matters of the heart. His sharing felt like a catharsis.

On my last day in Delhi, I found great company in another close friend’s Mother. When she came to know about my ambition to bicycle up North in the mountains, she started sharing her suggestions with spirited encouragement. Over time, she opened up and talked about her dreams, aspirations and nostalgia. Within half an hour, it felt as if she had shared so much of her life in the conversation.

These experiences got me wondering about a person’s desire for expression.
Anyone who has heard their own voice in a recording would say they do not like it at all. It sounds weird and whiney. One might sing to himself when alone, but would not record himself and listen back. It doesn’t sound as good !

But that is merely the physical aspect of our voice. Our true voice is in our thoughts and actions. The act of speaking merely helps to communicate.

Most of us are convinced that we do not have a good voice.
But boy, do we not love to be listened to?

In that moment, one forgoes the idea whether they have a good physical voice or not. While speaking to someone, what matters most is the voice in the heart.

It is tragic to see that despite our hyper connectedness, many of us do not have a patient, judgement free space/ friend to speak to. The voice deep inside our heart never finds expression.
But the moment, one finds a conducive space, even the most introverted of people share their life and experiences animatedly.

I wonder, maybe the best gift one could give to someone, especially to the elderly, is to just lend them a patient ear and listen with intent. There is plenty of learning and avenues to grow in the exercise.

Listening is an act of compassion.

And sometimes, the easiest way to be accepted and loved is to just listen,               with an open heart.