Normally you never hear the sounds of the night until you lose sleep for one reason or another. Then you realise, as you turn under the sheets, that the night comes alive in a way you never thought possible before. I am not talking about the howling of the cats or the barking of the dogs in the streets but subtle sounds that never provoke you but sometimes arouse your interest. Then you realise what goes around in the four walls of your bedroom is predictable but what is happening in the darkness of the night below your window is not.
I am always amazed how the wind squeezes through the glass panels. The whistling of the air seems to murmur something in your ears. Although the sound is meaningless, you listen to it the way you would listen to the voice of a long-lost lover. So gentle and so loving.
And when you are half asleep, you can hear your own breathing as if the sound comes from the distance and it seems to be completely alienated from you. Then comes the buzzing wings of the mosquito, the bite on your cheek and your hand waves it away. You turn the other cheek and bury your head deep in the pillow to face the other side. As you doze off again, you get into the first gear towards a deep slumber. But somewhere between the second and the third gear, you go into a hallucination mode between a dream and what was in your mind earlier in the day. You hear your own thoughts, not vocally but an explainable muffle of thoughts in the membrane of your sleep.
You turn again under the sheets, adjust the comfort level of your pillow and start questioning the temperature of the room whether it is comfortable or not. But the strange thing is that when you really try to listen to anything, a dead quiet reins over the room.
The trick is to let yourself go and let the night dictate terms. Just snuggle deep under the sheets and get into the cruising mode. Let the auto control of the sleep navigation take over and guide you through the night sound patterns. When the sounds of the night get pleasant enough, you feel your lips carving into a smile. This is when you are safely guided to a restful sleep.
When I was a child, the sounds of the night used to frighten me. Until the age of six, I crept out of my room, crossed the dark hallway and sneaked into the bedroom of my parents. I would sleep at the edge of the bed next to my mother until an hour before school time. My parents’ bedroom was a refuge for me from the sounds of the night.
It was my mother who coined the phrase the “whispers of the night for me” when she thought I should get over it. She gently explained to me that the protective angels “played music in the night” and she made up a story to convince me.
As a parent, I had a hard time passing over my mother’s legacy to my own children. They asked so many questions that I could not answer any of them. The combination of angels and the night producing all kinds of noise in a musical note is not something kids would care anywhere these days. In the same breath of argument, most people connect the sounds of the night as a great nuisance.
For me, the whispers of the nights are like a lullaby. However, they don’t have the same meaning anymore like when I was six. Now, they are just there, part of the night, unavoidable and pushed back into the background. They just echo in my dreams into insignificance.
Saleh Al Shaibany