On a winter night in Mumbai, when the full Moon scaled the sky and dewdrops turned silvery on the freshly mowed lawn, I hummed a pleasant tune to lighten my heart; the wind blowing northwards, carried my tune away and ruffled the Ferns and Ashoka leaves that lined the compound clay.
Oh, blessed, blessed night! The night queen proudly scaled the orbit with ebullient spontaneity. It had no guidelines, rules or strategy, only to cool the world’s heated plight. I lay on the dew drenched lawn gazing at the Moon; her wondrous, lusty countenance soon delighted my soul. A nocturnal bird soared from the darkness singing a lullaby for the unsleeping horde. The Ashoka leaves bent over but the tree stood in upright glow; the Fern drooped over my face to chase my blues away.
The creases eased in deep rest as the moon silently climbed the heavenly path. The winds scattered the clouds covering the earth like a shroud. The dark billowing clouds rolled like a carpet across the sky, dotted, designed, and dreamlike till my eyes drooped and sleep enveloped my tired limbs.
Many a sleepless night I had spent, and many a restless one too. I had come through ages, toiling, striving, feasting, sorrowing, and growing.
Each morning I cling to hopes afresh, anew, and each night I lie awake to see them wither away. Then gather pure ones from nature’s bower, and scatter them to winds and darkness. I’m far from the sum and substance of conclusion, far lost to the intelligent eyes, never able to grasp the ethereal; extrinsic hands elude my reach. There’s a mystical land and I’m striving to reach there to witness the wonders of the yonder.
My mixed steps of fear and gallantry, brush aside the great glower; will I get past the repressive rap? Will I cower under the crashing trap? I move with care for minimum want, my path is hard, strewn with reeds and weeds of mixed-up meanings, they go past me yet come back to collect dust. Quick as a flash they break out in a clash and I tell myself:
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
I need not dread the wild thunder either. What God has fixed as one, let no man lay asunder. The moon is my calming cure and remedy, I turn around for comforting coolness, her silvery rays have soothing cause.
On nights when the moon is gone, casting a ghostly spell from the deep darkness, and when the high waves run and the winds hoot and shriek at the mad tears that fall from the sky, I ride the waves and reach the ocean where clamour, chaos, and confused commotion die down into the unfathomed depth. Then I rise again flinging myself upon the gentle waves on the shore only to find myself reclining on the hammock that sways in a gentle breeze when the day is just about to break.
Was that not me that went again into the foaming tempestuous sea? There was no hammock, no tree and no rising day, only the storm and roar of nightly wind. The furious waters drag me by my hair into its depths as it would a shell or a floating leaf. There’s no hammock, it’s the sea bed I lie on. What I thought to be a lullaby of the night was the gurgling sea attuned to thunder and lightning above.
It was an illusion to think there wasn’t a quiver full of captious arrows. Learning is an uphill task. But, aren’t I lucky to have a guiding hand? My prize is too high for me to reach and I know I must go on endlessly without a trace of weariness cutting across the oasis of opulence, for the inflated tenor of crosspatch screeches in my ears for clarity. When the hammer strikes the strings, where do I hide the notes, into the repository of my bosom? How many notes can it hold?
I have coursed through life, minutes moving in inches not upwards, not downwards but in a plateau, nothing phenomenal, nothing remarkable. The leaves are disfigured, bare and bedraggled and fallen to dust. New ones have come in their place, detailed with definitions, eloquently played out. Freshness reigns, but there are no changes in my linear course.
My steps halt, wanting to clear the space. Nevertheless, the awaiting prize at the end of the path is a promise too good to resist. And a voice in me yells:
Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
The softness of the breeze blows my tresses and in the pearly light I open my eyes, wholesome and hearty to face a new day. My spirits bounce back. I wake up from the grass bed and the Moon has reached the other end. It has turned crimson and scarlet. The pre-dawn is passing, the sun is about to rise, but before that rise I must. I have lived so long yet I must pursue life through its infinite space. A backward glance I throw and thoughts rush to me, how many stories can be told in a lifetime, how many stories can be told of a life and how many can be told timelessly?
The sun is rising, the horizon is bright, boundless, and immense, I have a great desire to live, to love, to devour the present moment.
Today, I will obliterate and raze down all the carping darts and then free myself from passions of bonding, indolent glory, and earthly ties, then give myself up to nature, to the jollity of beauties, and roam through eternity in total freedom, in pursuit of the prize that is waiting for my reach.