“You should probably get it checked out now”

“I know. It doesn’t hurt me though, it’s just… strange.”

“Oh, so you’d rather go to the doc when your eardrums eventually explode?”

This conversation had been coming up every once in a while for a couple of months now, that’s how long Ngoma had been hearing the drumming sounds in her ear. So used to it, she had even noted the times. It would always be at 9pm, just before settling in her bed in preparation to sleep.

Before reaching this level of comfort with it, she would always pause, trying to figure out where it was coming from. Sometimes she would go as far as stepping outside to investigate. Ngoma noticed that the volume of the beat didn’t go up nor down no matter how much she moved around in investigative mode. Surely if it was coming from elsewhere, the volume would vary with her movements – that’s what she assumed with the little science that she knew on how sound travels.

Eventually, the investigator accepted defeat and passively embraced the sounds in her ear as a strange norm. Her mental resources were depleted, leaving her with no more strength or desire to make sense of what was happening. She would have liked to confide in someone else about it, but that came with the task of defending her sanity. No thanks. It would just have to be her little secret.

This was until her friend came over for the night. Now that someone was in the house with her at the drumming time, Ngoma thought there might be a slight chance that she would not be the only one hearing it. Assuming that her friend might feel weird to check with her, Ngoma interrupted their conversation about life’s things at exactly 9:05pm to initiate the question:

“Did you hear that?”


“Like the sound of drums or something?”

Her friend stood up to go turn down the chilled music that had been playing in the background, and stood dead still.

“I don’t hear anything; what’s wrong?”

“No, nothing”


She gave in and told her. That was the beginning of constant reminders from her friend to get it checked out.

Somehow she knew doctors wouldn’t be able to help her. As confusing as it may have been, Ngoma was certain that it was drums and there was no diagnosis for it. Months later, the sound felt comfortable and had grown on her. This was now her reason for not getting it checked out; if the doctors could make it go away, she would miss the familiar sound. Her new companion, and somewhat a home.

This was everything Ngoma reflected on before finally responding to her friend’s statement:

“My eardrums won’t explode, don’t be dramatic. ”

“You’re very sure for someone who doesn’t even know what’s going on,” her friend said, unimpressed.

That wasn’t entirely true. Somehow she knew that there were people that she could not see behind these drums. She felt watched. It was a hard thing to articulate with her mind’s language, but in her heart it made sense. How much damage could it really be doing if it filled up some of the voids that she been feeling in her life for a very long time? If her ears were to explode like her friend suggested, it would be worth it. Another thing that Ngoma couldn’t put together in her mind, but knew in her heart, was that more details surrounding these drums would eventually come to her. It was a bit scary to think about, but she welcomed it, trusting that whatever it was would probably be good for her. There was something that these drums knew about her that she was yearning to discover.

For now, she would continue closing her eyes and swaying to the beat as she had recently started doing at 9pm. She was set in her decision that nobody would take this away from her – not her friend, and certainly no doctor. It would remain something that only she could understand, hold and move to.

This was the beginning of her life’s new rhythm.

Nothing can snatch the rhythm of the one who dances to the music that is inside of them.

7910cookie-checkCALLS FROM THE DRUMS
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