I OPENED THE WINDOW.
I wasn’t imagining it. The voice was louder. Straining my ears, bending them into shapes to pick up the sound, I listened trying to drown out all else, holding the cooing pigeons under until they became silent, until the prattle of rain on the skylight became so quiet as if each gravity loving drop fell with velvet grace.
Louder and louder! As if the archaic had been awoken, a collective voice distilled through the ages bled through the clouds, across the horizon, searching for an audience. What was it saying?
With each second exposed to the outside, the decibels grew, muted thunderclaps, as if someone had shouted in a valley before civilisation existed, and now it would be heard.
I picked up fragments of words, syllables, garbled and nonsensical utterings. And yet! I understood them, bit by bit, words that were far from English filtered through and I heard them suddenly, in a crystal moment. I couldn’t be sure, and yet their meaning seemed so obvious, as if landing in Asia without learning Chinese yet understanding the first person to engage, without practice I understood that voice which pitched across the skies.
It said – no, surely not? – but…it had to be, didn’t it? I looked around. No neighbours stirred, I was alone with the voice as if it wanted to converse with me only. I was sure of the meaning now, wide-eyed and certain. Undeniably, “You idiots!” repeated over and over again in foreign tongue. Was it a comment for me or one for the world? Nonplussed I returned inside, closed the window and resumed burning books in the middle of my TV room, multiple sets all beaming different images, wondering if I’d missed something important.