Remaining completely silent allows you to build extraordinary relationships with people who you have never spoken to. It’s completely and utterly captivating. My dearest neighbour was the one whom I cared for the most. She was the sweetest old lady; beautifully thin and elegant in her sari’s which she paraded around the centre. She would have this habit of always peering her head past my door as she slowly glided to and from her room. When it came to eating any food I created my own designated seat directly under a fan in the furthest corner of the room so as to have my space from people and distractions. Given that we were unable to speak, I didn’t want to be surrounded by any temptation at the beginning, and then when I find something I liked the first time, I don’t tend to like to change it. I have always been like this, whether it’s using the same toilet cubicle at work or ordering the same soup dish at a particular restaurant. I tend to feel comfortable and reassurance that if I’m happy with what I have, why try change it to see? Why see if the grass is greener on the other side when your grass is perfectly well kept and green itself? I’m happy to go to pay a visit to the grass in the park to compare it to that of the field which I am used to, but just don’t see why it’s necessary to move around my field after I’ve already found a perfectly well kept and dry bit of land to sit on. Anyway, my dear old neighbour would always sit right next to me. With the number of available seats, I think she felt the same reassurance that we were neighbours and we had a deep connection which needed to be continued. She would sit so close to me that any drastic elbow movements would create a physical link between us.
Every day she would always JUST beat me to the meditation hall. I would always be in my room getting ready and I would hit her door slam followed by her bolting it tightly shut. At the sound of this I would then jump and grab what was necessary to evacuate the room as quickly as possible. There was one day in which I actually won this imaginary game of who would get to the hall first. I felt two seconds of pure childish victory before concentrating and starting my meditation.
Throughout her whole stay at the centre, she refused to take off her bangles which slid up and down her delicate arms. They were a beautiful range of green with glitter and detailed designs. Originally I found the sounds of them clattering together a huge annoyance, but I gradually grew a love for them. After all it was a clatter of which I was able to identify her presence without having to use my eyes. She would minimise the jingling as much as possible by pushing her bangles as far up her left arm as possible and tying a cloth to enable the stability of them. With the right arm she would do the same, though instead of a cloth she would carefully take the end of her sari and use that instead. It was mesmerising to watch and I took great enjoyment in observing her do such.
It was when I was around 30 minutes into my session that my mind wondered and I was unable to recollect hearing any clanging of bangles. I instantly questioned her arrival. I decided to carefully sneak a glance from the corner of my eyes to realise that she hadn’t arrived at all. I got a sudden panic and feeling of worry taking over my body. I cared for her as strongly as I did my own grandmother and hoped that she was okay. I instantly wanted to jump up from my cushion, run to her, hold her hands and ask her what was going on. Of course I was unable to do any of these things and so I had to just sit in silence and do nothing. This was even bigger torture than any leg or back pain I had previously complained about and I was unable to even consider concentrating on anything else until felt her presence at lunch.