There are times when you are seated in what would appear to be an egalitarian community. Your own literal round table amongst those who share supposedly common interests, purposes, activities. Conversation is flowing, bellies are filled, thirst is sated, the moon is low and the radiators are turned on. As your ears bend closer, and your lips twitch into a slightly bemused smile, you realise you have been quietly breathing through your nostrils for the past ten minutes. You have yet to even wiggle your tongue. On paper everything appears compatible. Yet silence has been enforced on you like a muzzle, clamping your vocal chords, their vicious grip suppressing even the throb of blood as the muscle spasms, contorts and finally submits. You cannot speak. It is not because you have nothing to say. Far from it. The twitch of your lips is not a grimace, but a look of amusement. Humour is found in the intricacies of the banal conversation that is playing out before you.
You do not speak because what you have to say is contradictory. It juxtaposes the contrived social norm that has taken precedence at said round table. The viceroy grip of silence is self-imposed. Or if not self-imposed, it has been allowed to reign. You appear in their peripheral vision as a specter standing mournfully on the outside looking in. Sometimes your image wavers like a mirage. Because you do not speak, to them, you do not exist. This externally inflicted, internally accepted silence has made you an invisible mute, for fear that were you to utter a word, a sound, even a half expressed syllable, you would ostracise yourself physically. Then the silence would not be within you, but it would surround you as you found yourself alone, alienated, a human without community. A body with a voice, yet no one to hear it.