"Every word is an ugly, unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness, so be quiet soon." An unsurprising statement from my ill father, who has long suffered from the sickness and is frankly quite sick of even lying on his own cold, rented hospital deathbed. I am sitting beside him on a cheap boxy sofa, anxiously contemplating on whether Baba would like the glass window open or closed- knowing deep down that he would prefer neither. I would like to ask him "why?" for so many reasons.
Due to overbooking within the commercial hospital, we couldn't find a room that had an attached bathroom. There was only one door out of the room that led to the corridor, and it remained unlocked.
The room had had a fly infestation since my sister brought in dry cakes and fruits two days ago. No one had the heart to eat anything, and so the food went to rot, inviting only the curious and hungry fruit flies that danced to the smell of stale fructose.
Each fly had to be zapped to death, as they're notoriously difficult to kill by hand as they processed visual information some seven times faster than humans. In the event that this situation should arise again, a strange DIY contraption called the fly-bottle is placed in the corner of the square, silent room.
"Shhh. Don't spoil our silence, son."
The fly-bottle is made of thick, transparent glass with beats of meat placed in the bottom as bait. There is a metal hole on the top through which one luckless fly has entered the glass trap, but the bait makes it such that it cannot leave. It unwittingly bangs around the sides of the glass trying to escape. I don't know if I am sadder about the trapped fly as much as my dying father- it all originates from the same void from the inside, where nothing can be distinguished.
"The disease can-"
"There's no cure for ending up on Earth, boy. Being born was the death of me, as it was for you. Now, let me enjoy this silence in peace. Please."
Why does it not occur to the fly to leave the same way it came out? I find that there is a small net which keeps the fly from ever reaching the meat bait; it is secured and out of the fly's reach by design. What does it mean that I am empathising with this unfortunate insect? Can all philosophers just agree to give up on the Hard Problem of Consciousness because it is too hard?
"What do you see, Baba?" His eyes are closed.
"I see nothing. Call it the back of my eyelids, if you will. Now, silence."
The clock-hands both move and not. The air is so still that I try to open the windows, but they do not budge. It seems irrational to care about whether secondhand smoking should affect a rapidly dying person, even if that person is your own father, or so you can tell yourself when you want to smoke so bad but eventually you don't. The fly will die in this fly-bottle if it cannot figure out that it can leave through the same door it used to come in. Isn't it called a fly precisely because it's supposed to fly around? When I was young, Baba told me about this early science experiment where animals and insects would be sealed in a container and weighed precisely at the moment of death- to see if the body reduced in mass at all when the soul left the body.
Curious to note is what I see next. My father is buzzing to the bee, gesturing for it to stop struggling around the bottle's middle- which it was naturally wired to do- and just philosophising for one measly second how it got in and how it can, thus, leave. This appears to be totally uncharacteristic of my father, who was a serious man who always spoke seriously and sincerely, and I had prior to this moment believed that he only spoke what he knew the truth was and didn't care about anything else. And yet, so bizarre that it is only occurring to me now, that my whole life, he has only said whatever he felt: whatever he wanted. And right now he would rather buzz to a trapped fly than his own son.
But what followed was magical- almost like a conductor, my father controls the solo trumpet orchestra that was the fly, and raised his finger as the fly mirrored his movements in the bottle. The fly had found its way out.
"Nature is having a dream, son. I think that's what the life I have seen and heard and touched and smelled and felt was."
I was ready now to remain silent but there this fly was quite the buzzer. He landed on the nose of my semi-paralyzed father, buzzing such that no silence could occur. The insect appears grateful. I can smack it dead with the rolled up daily newspaper but it would also mean hitting my sick father in the face. And I"d probably miss the fly, for sure. The fly is buzzing joyously. The disease, since my father has it, has surely inflicted me too.
"Does that mean that death wakes nature up, Baba?" "..."
"Are you gone?"
"Baba, you cannot leave me. Not like this."
"All this time, did you speak what you believe to be Truth or do you speak what you Feel?" "I just spoke, son. But now I care only for silence."
"Nature's dream is actua-"
"Finish the thought outside. I resign as your father and creator. Know you are no longer wanted."
The door guarding the room, which I clearly remembered only opening outwards now actually only opened inwards, and I rushed outside, desperate to stop privately monologuing and eager to join my father in animalistic, transcendental silence.