Tinnitus, And An Apology


There’s an ambulance racing in one ear, and the police bounding after someone in the other, their sirens shrill and sawing. They’ve been on perpetual duty for weeks now, and these last days their resolve and intensity are rising, and there’s no sign their quest is nearing the end.

I’m thinking, “This is it, I’m turning deaf,” because that’s what the doctor told me last, that tinnitus could lead to loss of hearing — although my hearing that moment before him was fine. He gave me something for the nerves, and that hasn’t done it’s job, so today I’m wondering what I’d do in a world without music, without the sweet voice of my grandson telling me his startlingly inventive stories. I’d no more need to write down my preference for a quiet room when I make a reservation at a hotel. Or shut all my windows and curse raucous Deepavali. Right now my wife is teleconferencing with her office in the next room. She’s loud and insistent and she won’t change that thing about her, but I won’t ask her to take her business downstairs for a bit — as I sometimes have, and we’ve quarreled.

Is this what this affliction is about? A lot of noise en route to a life of peace and quiet? Noise come to bid me goodbye?

I apologize to noise for all the times I’ve complained against it. “Sorry, noise. Really.”