Monday, 12 November 2012

We had two minutes of silence

yesterday. The noisy, lively, cheerful, talkative craft fair was, quite suddenly, silent for a moment.  Remembrance Day was being observed as it should be observed.
I am glad they did it. Not all such events would do it. If we are at home my father and I always observe it. I have stopped pedallling if I happen to be out, found a quiet corner of a library or a shopping centre or, somehow, done it. I stopped once in the middle of an exam. Nobody else knew because I was typed my answers and that meant I was usually trusted to be alone in someone's office. It was a few moments out of my precious exam time but it seemed important to me.
I once had a university lecturer who stopped in the middle of a lecture and asked to be excused while he observed it. When he asked I am pleased to say that one of the older male students said quietly,
          "We will observe it with you."
The entire lecture theatre stood and observed it with him. I do not know if any of the younger students would have thought to say that but there was a sense it was a good thing to do.
Yesterday the sudden stillness was almost dramatic. The noise in a very large space where there is the inevitable background "music" as well as many people talking can get overwhelmning. To go from that to instant silence is almost overwhelming.
Then, almost as suddenly, the noise was back.
Perhaps that is why the woman who had been choosing some yarn looked up and asked me, in Dutch, how much something cost. I answered her in English and I doubt she was aware that she had spoken to me in Dutch. In the context of the fair I had understood her without difficulty. I wondered if she was a post-war migrant to this country. If I guessed her age correctly she would have been a teen during the war.
We had two more profoundly deaf people stop at the stall. I could see them signing to one another. They waited a little to one side until I was free and then "spoke" to me. Their friends, the two who had come yesterday, had apparently told them I would understand. It was very trusting of them!  I found the crochet hook one of them wanted and sold them yarn that we agreed was "like stroking a cat". The sign language for that is so obvious! I wish I knew more Auslan. I have forgotten most of what I did know and it is as frustrating for me as it is for them but at least we understood one another at a very basic level.
There was a boy of about eleven or twelve who brought a dragon he had made. He wanted a crochet hook too. He was going to crochet the dragon's wings. No, he could not crochet. No, his Mum could not crochet - but his Nan could. He was going to find out how with a big bamboo hook. He makes these fiery looking creatures to give to his friends the way some people give their friends "comfort" or "prayer" shawls.
Others bought yarn for themselves, for family, for friends. Someone asked if I could suggest something for a "comfort shawl" for a bereaved friend. She did not care about the cost. Her friend was too important for that.
I readily admit I do not find it easy to stand for several hours at a time but the effort is worth it when people make an effort to communicate or an effort to learn or when they want to do something for others.
And I am grateful when they also make an effort to remember others too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was pleased that we stopped for those few moments too. The lady buying raffle tickets stopped, then had to count the tickets she had already written to make sure she didn't write out too many.

The silence was deafening!

Unfortunately the sound system really was deafening at times.