Written by Odebunmi Emmanuel

If there is a Greek Goddess of voices, she is probably enamored with me. I have been visited by thoughts of the little soundwaves our lips, mouth, and tongue create in unison. Yesterday, I spent some time telling my friend that her voice was a sign of God in her life. Today, as I stood outside my family home wondering what to write about, the question came to me, “What if all the sounds in the world endure, but there are no such things as voices?”

Let us get practicality out of the way first. I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without lips as I had initially started to think. I wouldn’t want to miss the stare at a stranger’s uniquely sculpted upper lip and think to myself, “She is beautiful.” I wouldn’t want to deprive myself of the sight of my partner’s smile, even if I would be taking away her laughter.

As for the survival utility, I expect evolution would give us a suitable alternative to screaming for help. And finally, how would we communicate? you might ask. The eager person reading this would scoff and reply, “well sign language, of course.” It would be the wrong answer. In this alternate reality, we would write.

Imagine the frustration in traffic when you can not simply scream out curses and your only option would be to park your car, write out your stream of litany, and force your offender to sit and read. A little bit of silence would do us good in that regard.

Imagine just how more beautiful literature would be. Words, and letters, would command our daily lives. Out in the park, out on walks, in arguments, and even during sex, the constant sight of a notebook and pen, or an open notepad app will be our world’s new portrait.

Patience would be a forced virtue and eventually a learned virtue. Tolerance would sneak its way in and dare I say, understanding and kindness would finally defeat and consume humanity. The intimacy of the written word doesn’t permit as much conflict as harsh tones and raised voices. And even if it did, at least there would be some beauty to it. Have you ever heard of carnage being a carefully written monologue signed and sealed to be delivered to the privy of another?

We would finally begin to see the art in our everyday – in the familiar disrupt of the morning rush, in the hated but also beloved sting of the harmattan wind on a Thursday morning or any other day.

I once told my friend how beautiful it is to look out the window of any two, three-storey building overlooking the Nigerian street, or any building with a window, in fact, and see the same sights, whether in the rageful city of Lagos, in the calm of Ibadan or in the unfamiliarity of Abuja, which I have never been.

A hawker or two would be walking down the street and displaying their wares, a number of roadside shops would be open and selling a variety of whatever, a vulcanizer further down the road would be waiting for his customers to pull up in their cars and have their tyres checked, okadas would be zipping past, sometimes at an appropriate speed and other times at a speed that would make you think misfortune awaits at the lull of the speedometer. The sunlight would top it all off, impartially resting his hand on each and every one of them.

We would notice more of the enchanting nature of our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and lives even while merely standing at a shopping Center, staring out at cars and an uncomfortable number of commercial motorbikes going about their daily runs, like I am right now.

We would write. And we would write in sincerity because in the heat of the moment as we search for the right words to convey in conversation, maybe, just maybe, we would forget to be inauthentic in our speech.

What if all other sounds endure but there are no such things as voices? I am delightfully curious about the adaptation of music and what it would become, so I would refrain from birthing an answer in this fantasy. If ever I come across a genie offering a fourth wish, I would ask for an hour in this world – just to read a bit of her letters and literature, and to listen to her music.

If there is a Greek Goddess of voices, she probably would no longer be enamored after today. I expect that my question and its answers would be too much mimicry of rejection’s sting. Still, I can’t help but think about it.

Leave a Reply