Avishek Parui’s short story captures the finer nuances of what goes on in the human mind while living with a rare illness like Tinnitus.
There seems to be someone in my head, always. Especially when I am alone. It’s a tingling sound that swims up and then slaps its way between my ears, before spreading across my skull. Like a shrill bell gone wrong, or a rogue nerve. Car horns hit the hardest, followed by ringing phones. And then those turn to knives slowly cutting across glass. And then a hammer, tiny first, becoming big, upping its beat. The sounds stuck to the skull, never dull, never pass. The volume doesn’t matter although I suspect that’s what may have caused this in the first place. Too much exposure. Too many pulsating beats, too many frequencies falling furiously on my many membranes, like a dangerous drug, mixing with my blood, nerves, veins. On days when it’s too bad, I can hear my head being cut in half. On most days, it is the slow hum of a damaged bird. I have been informed on what I may have. My medical, strangely sonic condition. It’s a cute name. Tinnitus.
Of course, the good sounds still stay that way. But then they always stay. Never lessening, never lost. Everything I hear never leaves me never goes away. It’s like a box where you keep pushing things till the box becomes just another little thing to be pushed into a bigger box which also keeps filling up. You need to un-hear sounds like you need to un-remember memories. I don’t do that. I can’t do that. Not with sound. Every sound is shapeless, deathless, and endless. Everything becomes a sound for me. I am a slave in my echo-chamber of hammers and tongs. Never released, never set free.