Don’t just hear. Listen.

Listen.

That’s what I did.

We came together because you talked and  I listened. You told me the funny things you did, the child you were, the child you are.

You shook your head with mock exasperation and an indulgent smile as you told me more about how you did something weird. You stole a look at me sideways, waiting for me to approve of what you’d done, and declare it cool, not weird.

It was amusing, because you didn’t seem to need that approval otherwise.

You talked and talked. Animatedly. And I listened. And responded. Most of the time. All these years.

One day, I just didn’t feel like listening.

I wanted to be the one talking.

You realized I was hearing but not listening.

You frowned and asked me, “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

I wasn’t alright. I needed to talk. I just didn’t know how. I’d never been the one talking. I wasn’t supposed to be the one talking. I was supposed to be the one listening, right? Right?

No.

That can’t be right.

Why couldn’t I speak? And be heard? And be consoled? I wasn’t all sorted out. I was a mess. I just didn’t talk about it.

Why the hell didn’t I?

I’d gotten so used to being the listener. People usually got surprised when I spoke freely. Eyes wide,  amused smile. “Is that really you? You seem really happy today. You seem like a different person!” they’d say.

Yes. I’m two different people. One who listens. And one who wishes she didn’t have to always listen.

I don’t blame you. I just never did talk. I just…

…listened.

And that’s what drew you to me. You wished to talk. And I seemed to like to listen. Not just hear, but actually listen. Nod my presence, soothe your worries, calm your fears. “I’m here if you want to talk” I’d said. And I meant it.

Then, one day, I just didn’t want to listen.

You realized I was hearing you, but not listening.

You frowned and asked me, “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

I got over my apprehensions. I put my over-thinking mind aside.

And I talked.

And you seemed to listen. Your brows furrowed, your eyes searching mine.

For a while.

But then, your mind wandered off. Your eyes moved around. Your hands fluttered around. Your feet tapped the ground. You grasped the first opportunity to sympathize.

Oh yes, you did sympathize, I won’t lie.

But you just couldn’t empathize.

You said, “I know how hard it is. You know…I faced the same thing. And it was so hard for me! You know I had it so bad! You know I…”

But I didn’t want to know how it was for you! I just wanted someone to know how it was for ME!

Was that wrong? Was that unfair? Wasn’t that what I had been doing for you?

I know so much about you now. You know so little about me. Because you’d rather talk, and I’d supposedly rather listen.

It’s not really your fault. I just don’t talk. I bottle it all up. “For me to know anything, you have to talk first!” you tell me emphatically.

I agree. I do agree.

But when I do talk, maybe it could be just about me? Maybe you could try and just listen. Maybe for me, my problem was much bigger than it would sound like to you. Maybe I just want to get it all out, and want you to hold my hand and say, “I understand”. Maybe I just needed that clichéd shoulder to cry on. Maybe I just need someone to hate the same people I hate. Maybe I just needed someone to not judge me and call me silly.

Maybe…just maybe…this one time…it could be just about me.

So please. For once…

…don’t just hear.

Listen.

 

(ANI don’t really know, but this just might qualify as spoken word poetry. Though I have no intentions of performing it out.)

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8 thoughts on “Don’t just hear. Listen.

  1. so brilliant

  2. You are good sanchari…you really speak it out

  3. You know me so well. I used to be the listener – for years. That changed the moment someone listened to me and I learned how great it was to be listened to. I need to find the balance between the two. I love this post!

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