As a kid, I would often hear this phrase from the elders around me: “Walls have ears.” To me, it sounded kind of weird. I was in Class 5 when my grammar teacher finally told me that this sentence is not literal but a personification. Yeah, of course, I have got this by now that walls don’t have ears, but the problem with me was that I felt comfortable talking my heart out to the walls that had no ears, and not to the humans which had them. I felt relieved venting out to the walls no matter how strange that might sound to people around me.
As I grew up, my relationship with the walls strengthened and deepened. Now, not just my heart, but all that was in my head also started coming out on the wall. Well, civil service aspirants would highly relate to it. As I wake up every morning, there’s a wall that has my daily timetable stuck on it that tells me what I am supposed to do that day. On another wall are notes that I made a year ago so that I could go through a quick revision at times when I’m anxious about an exam. And then there are those sweet little inspirational quotes and notes to self that I wrote long back so that I could read them in times of hopelessness and get myself back on track. The walls around me became kind of my friends, no matter where I was — be it in the hostel or in my home. I liked the walls and I never felt like they were meant to restrict me, but rather to give me the comfort I needed.
But then suddenly, a small little notorious virus came into our life and the whole of the world was now trapped within the walls. I could see them everywhere — between nations, between the states and cities, and also in people’s hearts. And my walls that were once my friends were now looking at me, making me suffocated with that gaze of theirs. The quotes were feeding into me a toxic positivity, burdening me with a race to be productive every day even when my mind was jammed. The routine now looked pale to me with nothing new to learn except about the several mutations that this little virus was going through. And when this virus got into me finally, I was trapped! Trapped into the same walls that once comforted me.
I am enrolled in a University now and people say that the walls of that University mean revolution. I was thrilled to go to college and talk to those walls. I was restless to get out of the walls around me and visit these University walls, create a new world, follow a new routine, get inspired by new people and new things. I dreamt about becoming friends with the walls again, but then suddenly, the walls that trapped me in “talked back”!
They said, “A new strain would come and lock you back with me, and you would have to again accept the same old ‘New normal’ with me while your University remains trapped within a 15-inch screen.” This just shook me from within. For my entire life, I had been talking to the walls and never did I ever imagine that someday they would talk back. Now, walls don’t just have ears, they may have a mouth too.