One day, looking for headphones, I found an old abandoned pair in the attic. They had decorative designs and with an aura of being precious. When I started using them, there was nothing unusual. The sound quality was decent. But it all changed that day. I was traveling in metro and during the heavy rush and push of passengers, I was pressed up against a little boy for more than a minute. He looked sad, staring through the window at the city. Before I could notice closely, something strange happened. I was listening to a melody which abruptly stopped and I started hearing strange sounds. I was confused. I checked the phone. It was playing the same song. I paused it and unplugged the headphones from the phone and inserted the buds into my ear. I continued to hear voices. “How many times, how many times should I tell you?” It was followed by the sounds of what seemed to be slapping. Which broadcast is this? My headphones got connected to someone else’s Bluetooth? They are not even wireless. The sounds continued. It was the sound of someone — a young boy — crying, amidst hiccups, humiliated, pleading with a hoarse voice, apologizing. The other voice continued. “International school, worst quality..” were repeated.
The metro had stopped at a junction and there was more jostle and hustle. The boy looked agitated now. His uniform was sweaty and crumpled. It had the name International School. Is it possible that I am listening to his thoughts? Is this really happening? I couldn’t believe my ears. I took out one ear bud and asked “Are you okay?” The boy smiled at me. I heard from the another earbud “As if you care”. Was that what he thought just then? Deep inside? I put my arms around him, hoping to comfort him. He kept looking through the glass. The voices stopped when my station came. The boy too got down there. I walked along with him and asked if he would like a cup of water. He hesitated. He must have been warned not to take anything from strangers. I had heard “End it. End it now.” I spoke with him. He seemed better. I gave him my phone number in case he wanted to talk. My headphones started playing music again.
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September 23, 2019 — magnon