Klaus the house mouse lived in the brick house at the top of the street. He rarely if ever left his home however he was known well to each and every resident on the street. They knew him as the loud mouse. Everybody had heard Klaus, dare I say, loud and clear. He made no concessions even for the odd funeral procession and when he got started in the shower there was no amount of cotton in the ear that could save your eardrums. For Klaus was a noisy mouse indeed, whatever he did was LOUD. Every resident on the street was truly fed up. There were multiple instances of mothers accidentally hanging their kids out to dry on the clothesline when a louder than loud sneeze rang out at laundry time. It was only when their eardrums had vibrated back into shape that they heard the wailing mutts and rushed out to rescue them from the clothesline, cursing Klaus all the time. Once a Schoolbus lost control, ran through the bushes and broke into the butcher’s place. Imagine the horrors that the poor kids had to face working their way out of carcasses, offals, ribs and steaks, especially for the poor Subramanian lamb who had never even seen mince leave alone the insides of an upside-down cow. On investigating the reason, it turned out that the driver got completely disoriented when someone started screaming right into his ear. Of course, upon further investigation, the clever detective found out that it was Klaus to blame for he had the habit of letting loose his finest yodelling when under the shower. And every day, at exactly 7:35 AM, when the bus used to round the bend under his house, Klaus used to get into the shower. A problem, it was when all of a sudden in the middle of a funeral service someone whipped out his phone and started explaining loudly to the flower delivery person that he was not at home and that it was not ok to leave the flowers with the neighbour because she was the one whose surprise birthday party it was later today. Nobody had to turn around for everyone knew who could be oh so obnoxious.
The town, in short, had had it with all the loudness. They could not handle it anymore. An urgent meeting was called in the town hall. The brightest of brains put together their heads to arrive at a solution. So the town hall was teeming with people on the appointed day. “shhhh!… Today, we find the cure!” banners were plastered all over the place. The assembled crowd was divided into 15 groups of 100 people each, yes there were 1500 people stuffed into a hall build for 500 so desperate was the situation. Each of these 100 people groups was asked to elect a leader and then discuss for 30 minutes. The leader was to then come back with a plan. Once all the unique plans were identified there would be a discussion amongst the team leaders on merits. This discussion was to be moderated by a legal panel because everything had to be rock solid water tight with no scope for a sly loop hole being left behind for the noise to slip out of. It did seem like there was light at the end of the tunnel or more like a bit of quiet.
Half an hour later everyone filed out to the lawns to continue the discussions and partake of the sumptuous feast laid out by the generous Mr Narulas. He ran the ice cream parlour in the centre of town, right under the epicentre. Every day, on average, he had to replace 57 orders free of cost because the poor customers got started by Klaus and ended up dropping their orders. For him this was a problem that reflected on the balance sheet, his cash register was running dry because of the unpredictableness of the noisy neighbour. The team leaders who had been selected by each of the teams went and presented their solutions to the town council and the legal board. Of
Inside the surprising consensus was on gagging the loudmouth and shooing him out of town. Eight teams had voted for this option! Overwhelmingly it seemed people wanted to strong-arm the problem away. The option was not acceptable since there was no law against loud noises. That meant that the rest of the seven
- introduce a very hefty fine
- buy noise-blocking headphones for all residents
- enact a law banning all noises on odd days
- enact a law banning all noises on even days
- allow loud noises only between 7 AM and 10 AM, outlaw them at other times
- install soundproof windows on Klaus’s home and lock them shut
- raise funds to finance his soundbox orientation surgery
- raise funds to send Klaus on a long vacation
The solutions were all debated at length and rejected one by one. The reasons given were:
- Klaus was a rich nutcase and fines had been charged since at least three years now. A good way to address the fiscal deficit however not so good when you had to still repair a bridge that got destroyed because a train driver got distracted by Klaus’s silencer free Harley roaring to a start under the bridge.
- headphones for everyone was too expensive an idea and it would mean that citizens would be having more accidents not less. Imagine a car honking or an ambulance siren wailing and you can’t get out of the way because you never heard them thanks to your noise-blocking headphones.
- if the town gagged him on odd days there would still be accidents on even days
- if the town gagged him on even days there would still be accidents on odd days… besides gagging was going to be illegal on all days, odd or even.
- that would reduce the number of accidents however it could also increase the number of accidents. What if people became complacent between 10 AM and 7 AM and then the noisiness started between 7 AM and 10 AM. More catastrophic accidents could take place than just a poor housewife hanging out the kids to dry instead of the laundry.
- Again not possible because it would tantamount to jailing to chap, there really was no law against noisiness.
- the surgery had never been attempted on a human and what’s more, it was meant to allow dumb people to speak again not to increase or decrease the volume. Besides, it wasn’t just his voice, even his cell phone rang out in Dolby Digital Plus at a median RMS of around 500 watts. He was just plain obnoxious.
- A vacation was a great idea, let’s send him to Little Nicobar, no one lives there. However, he will come back, what then?
So essentially the townsfolk were back to where they started, square one. The meeting had been an utter failure. The last time anyone had spoken to Klaus about his noise issue was almost three years back when the issue had started. He had pretended not to be interested and had walked off. The problem had only grown louder since then. It almost seemed as if every day his bike made a noise that was louder than the last day, his phone rang a little more angrily, his teapot whistled a tad more shriller, he spoke a little louder. If a scientific experiment had been done maybe this could’ve been proven, he was becoming louder by the day. The meeting was adjourned after a short prayer service where everyone without exception prayed that Klaus would stop being so loud.
You see the reason Klaus never paid any heed to the amount of noise he was creating in the world was that he was slowly going deaf, in both ears. It all started three years back, precisely in the middle of an excruciatingly frigid winter, when he forgot his ear mitts. To think he was out, riding his Fatboy through town to pick up earbuds. Initially, it was just a bad ache and then it just kept getting worse. Klaus figured that the townspeople had taken to whispering when he was around or when talking to him because they wanted him to sell off this house. You see this was another angle to the situation. Klaus lived right above the Mayor’s office in a flat which he had bought even before the mayor was a thing for Sufitju, the town that didn’t get sun for six months in a year. The mayor had always wanted to move into Klaus’s quarters because, well because he was the mayor and felt he deserved a house right above his office so that he wouldn’t have to wade through traffic to arrive at his place. Klaus, on the other hand, would have none of that. He liked his place, the view was great and since this was the only house in town which was on the second floor and not on the ground or first floor it meant that there was sunlight for exactly two more weeks every year. So anyway as time went by and as his hearing became even more impaired Klaus just blamed it on the townsfolk. He went out and bought a Harley Davidson Fatboy and removed the silencer because he couldn’t hear the damn thing and he knew it was the townsfolk who were doing this to make him feel like he was going senile. He believed that they had made the bike so quiet that he didn’t hear it even when he put his head to the muffler and ended up burning all the hair coming out his ears. He bought the loudest possible phone from Amazon after looking through all the commercials because he was convinced that the shop in town had sold him a dud piece which he could barely hear even with the volume turned all the way up. With his Dolby digital plus phone that was never a problem, well maybe
Everyone went home dejected and forlorn. We just had a nice picnic thanks to Mr. Narulas, the solution is still far from evident. Tomorrow morning again there will be the noisiness to encounter. Well, everyone except Klaus. He was none the wiser and had no idea about why he just spent the evening with people looking at him like he were the Pink Panda come down from Tanzania to enjoy the amazing triple banana split sundae. He thought that maybe they wanted the ice cream so he pointed to the counter but they just shook their heads in what appeared to be disgust and trudged on along.
Next morning was a special day for Sufitju. The mayor had been working on a secret project for over two years now. Construction teams sworn to secrecy had been working on the tops of the mountains at different locations around the town. Today there was a big reveal planned. As everybody trudged into the town centre a loud wail rang out. Well ok, it was just Klaus singing in his shower. He couldn’t be bothered. Everyone chose to ignore the town-problem and focus on what the mayor wanted to share. It was a tad difficult to be jovial in a place where the sun had last been seen 4 months back, however, everyone tried. There were people playing live music, some dressed as clowns on stilts carried huge bubble making sticks, there were live food stalls that had come up. It was almost like the village fair come early. The mayor made a long, cumbersome speech about how life in Sufitju was so hard. People started thinking he was going to quit and go away. A bookie actually started taking bets as well. The odds were 5:13 in favour of the mayor leaving.
Finally after almost three hours of small talk when the mayor got a call from the construction crew which he was waiting on he came to the point. He said and I quote “Let there be light!” everyone assumed he meant switch on the auxiliary generators and fire up the floodlights that were used only on special occasions. What the townsfolk didn’t realize was, till a split second later, was that the mayor had pulled off a magic trick. He flipped a switch and spoke into a walkie talkie and lo and behold the sun streamed right into the town centre where everyone was standing around. This was sorcery of the highest level. Something like this had not happened since the dawn of time since the town had been established. Sunlight, streaming into the town centre in the middle of winter… unbelievable. People went down on their knees and started praying to the sun and to the mayor at the same time. Standing at the window in his second-floor house Klaus was perhaps the first one to have received the warmth of the new sun. He too was on his knees overcome with joy and emotion. The rays were so powerful that mattresses started crackling in all the houses that were in the town centre. the carpet started to not smell musty anymore, dampness just evaporated in a matter of minutes.
The mayor started his speech again once everyone in the town centre had taken off their chesterfields and the street lamps had been turned off. He explained how over the past couple of years with the help of funds that the town had collected by means of fines from Klaus, and some other noise polluting factories, he had commissioned an array of mirrors high up in the mountains to capture the suns rays and beam them into the town. He explained that as of now this was complete only for the town centre however over time it would be done so that every square inch of the town was covered. In a way, he said that the fines which the town had started charging from Klaus, almost three years back, had paid for this magic. So even though there was dejection about the futility of last nights meeting at the town hall, there still was something that the people gathered had to cheer about. They all looked up to the second floor and were greeted by a funny sight. Klaus was scratching at his ears almost as if he were trying to get three years worth of wax out of his ear. Or maybe, just maybe, they looked away, high up to the mirrors on the hill. Could it be true, could the townsfolk have been really so wrong?!
Klaus was feeling a stirring in his ears. As if the heat from the mirrors high up in the mountain was not only drying up his damp house but also at the same time melting away the bucket load of wax stuck in his ears. He could already hear the clock ticking. Something he hadn’t heard in at least two and a half years. This was a miracle indeed. From that day forth Klaus was never loud ever again!…. And the townsfolks hold an ear cleaning camp every weekend for all townsfolk. They now export candles from Sufitju and world over these are much sought after candles. They seem to have an extra warm glow. Who knew ears wax could be so profitable that now the sale of these candles is funding the installation of the rest of the mirrors up in the hills.