"Can you lower the volume of your voices?" I asked my mother and my aunt who were in the living room sitting on a couch, one couch. I stated the obvious. "You're right next to each other. There's no need to scream."
I had newly fashioned a writing schedule that alternated between fiction and non-fiction every other day, an attempt to preserve my creative sanity. That night was non-fiction. I needed some peace and quiet to properly organise my thoughts.
I actually had expected my young cousin, my aunt's son, to be that night's distraction. Scream. Run around. Annoy me. You know, kids. Instead, the distraction came from my mother and her youngest sister. I could hear them all the way to my bedroom which was not far away from the living room.
Grins crossed their faces as I walked away to return to my room. They resumed talking in softer and relaxed voices, obliging my request and perhaps realising they could converse without screaming like banshees. Family culture made them, or rather, us, like that. We talk to each other like that, above normal volume for conversations. Outsiders might think there's an argument going on but that's not the case. Personally, I do not like it but that's another story for another day. What I knew when I returned to my desk to continue writing was that I was glad I asked. I got the peace and quiet I wanted because I asked.
Minutes before I hesitated to ask them to tone it down and thought I would try to work my way through non-fiction night with their shrill voices as static noise, just like in high school and college when I hesitated to ask teachers about topics I didn't understand well in class, or when I hesitated to ask my co-worker to stop playing music in the office, or when I hesitated to ask the driver to turn up the air-conditioning because I was already sweating like a pig at the back of a heavily packed van.
How many times in our lives did we hesitate in asking someone something because we were shy?
How many times did we keep our mouth shut and refused to express ourselves because we were afraid?
How many times did we waste the opportunity of turning someone into a romantic interest because we feared rejection?
How many times did we fail to help someone because we didn't ask if they needed it?
How many times did we refuse to ask for help because of the useless pride we tried to keep?
How many times did we fail to grow and learn from our mistakes because we didn't dare to ask ourselves the hard questions in life?
We hesitated because it's easier to assume than to ask. It's easier to be idle than to act. It's easier to make conclusions than to prove things yourself.
I should've been asking a long time ago. We should've been asking a long time ago, many times. Many times.