"Too Much Noise"
By Sharon Philogene
It is a Friday and it is 2:30 in the afternoon. I pull up to my home and I can no longer hear what once held my interest on the vehicle's radio. The thought that clouds my mind is why doesn't this place blow up or evaporate into thin air. More than ever, I want to be an assassin today. I want to assassinate these speakers, all speakers that would dare disturb my peace or the peace of this nature isle.
Before everyone jumps to conclusions, I do love music, I enjoy a jam with sweet sounds that force one off a chair, gets the feet tapping, the waist moving, the heading nodding, and eventually captivates and moves the body like one entranced. I think back to those University days when on a Saturday morning as a cross country team we would arrive at our destination, coach would park the van, we would open the doors having been restrained in the van to move only shoulders, heads and snap fingers to the alluring sounds of whatever was being emitted from the vehicles speakers, be it our Caribbean jams, or the latest Rhythms and Blues. We would, now on our feet and with time before the whistle for the start of the three- or five-mile run, warm up to the sweet rhythms and take our minds for a few minutes off the task at hand. So, I do love music! I love a good party and I would even enjoy what was being emitted from these speakers if I could hear the lyrics and feel the beat. What I feel, however, is the vehicle shaking, my head throbbing, and when in my house, the walls vibrating and of course the sounds of the windows and doors rattling, so yes, today I want to annihilate those speakers.
I can imagine several of you dismissing my feelings and merely laughing off the idea of music being unbearably loud. Why not? The "nature" isle has become loud and so few understand the concept of quiet or music being played to a certain decibel that I accept the laughable nature of my complaint. We drive past schools, hospitals, courts, churches and in these places, everyone is forced to press mute until the "noise' is no more and life can continue as they should in these places. We even drive into our neighborhoods at all hours of the day creating a racket, enough to raise the dead. We wake babies, traumatize our elderly, force into earshot lyrics so crass, so sexually explicit, so unsavory, and so unedifying. Sometimes I wonder whether the noise that we have grown to love is meant to attract or repel others, to show whether we have progressed or regressed as a society, to interfere with opportunities for introspection and so give a false sense of growth and development. Whatever it is meant to do, it does it well. This noise we have embraced, and we relish allows us little time for thought, but why should we think?
I am often forced to accept that I live in a country where laws don't matter as I am certain that somewhere on the law books, there is "a noise abatement act", but there are all types of laws in Dominica to govern all kinds of things because laws must be written; it is the norm. It is what is done in all societies, so we do it. We waste resources to employ legal minds to write laws, and we waste time and resources to ensure that they are legislated. Then, we ignore them because our country is special. It does not really matter whether there are laws or not, once you are in Dominica, you are free to do whatever you want; there will be no consequence. In fact, doing what one wants is often facilitated. Permission is granted for night clubs to be built and operated in residential areas without the requirement that the sounds be contained within the building. In certain communities, elderly citizens are tortured all night long by the sounds vibrating from these night clubs, and no one cares. There is no cut of time for noise in our communities, and no law enforcement officer will dare interrupt a jam to remind the organizers that they should turn down, or turn off the music as they have gone past the lawful time for noise.
It is 3am on Saturday. I pull my pillow a bit more under my head; it seemed to have had its own agenda during the night, or I seemed to have had mine. I am now wide awake. I lay on my back and listen…. the sounds soothing; the water lapping on the shore reminding me of its presence, the night creatures harmoniously serenading those like me who have enjoyed blissful rest. Time dead marches on and I am fighting the urge to remain captive to nature's symphony as an ungraded English paper has decided that an invasion is necessary. It has arrived with a roaring engine and a booming speaker to remind me that time has marched on. I long again to be an assassin. I want to lay in wait and watch the huge black boxes on wheels explode as they drive past, and I will breathe a sigh of relief as silence reigns.