I was cooking rice pudding for a Silent Dinner Party at Elsewhere one evening when an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and love for absent bodies came over me. It gathered in the soles of my feet and, like water running upward encased every bit of my skin and about an inch deep into my muscle. Past my legs, through my torso, filling my arms and wrapping around my neck, it rose to my head where it manifest as a single tear that leap out of my eye quickly and cleanly into the pudding. I kept my head straight and listened for sounds that would suggest that someone saw. No-one did.
It is often the case at a Silent Dinner Party that it is not very quiet at all, and this evening was no exception. A very jovial and theatrical meal was shared between the 15 of us Elsewherians without spoken or written words. As the desert was served, the pudding having been rolled into neat little rice balls, stuffed with almond butter and smothered in chocolate syrup, a stillness came over the group. Eating dessert, we were all suddenly consumed by melancholic longing. One of the artists started weeping uncontrollably, and before long everyone had tears streaming down their faces. We were holding each other, consoling friends and acquaintances with complete unknowing as to why or what for. People scraped their bowls clean and went back for seconds, like neddábehs (or public weeping women)22 revelling in their shared display of grief.
Suddenly the dishes were cleared away. The group regrouped, and gathered in the kitchen to share the cleaning. Someone put some music on, and people slipped into their familiar tasks of wiping, rinsing, storing, sweeping and 'hooshing'. The next day there was a lot of talk about the silence, but nobody mentioned the tears.