“To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing — the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again.” ― Marilynne Robinson
The shadows were now twice as long as themselves, the air was damp and cool smelling faintly of a car’s exhaust fumes, the sun dipped lower in the sky until the trees that lines the lane stood as black statues silhouetted against the darkening sky, slowly their shadows melted away into the blackness of night.The sun has gone to rest, the moon takes his place as the darkness begins to surround me. I like the night, it hides my flaws, my imperfections, the scars burned onto my flesh, the stabs of knives left behind. The moon guides me through the night. Her calming presence makes me slowly close my eyes, my body quietly switching off; but she lets my soul run free. I can do the things I would never be allowed to do when the sun is out. I can do whatever I want…as my worries, my thoughts, silently burn into smoke as they wonder through the endless night once more. Twilight burns away the drabness of the day, the clock in and the clock out, the mechanized life, robotic and cold. The night means downtown is lit by the neon lights of the clubs and bars, shinning on the rain-kissed sidewalks. At night you can be anybody and no-one cares who you really are. I step into the darkness. The stars are somewhere behind the haze of black cloud that is stretched thinly above and the transitory moonlight bleaches the grey-scale world momentarily, and then it is gone. My mind is a blur with possibilities, each more fanciful than the next. As I walk towards the deep woods I realize they have always looked different at night. Even with the glasses, everything has an unfamiliar slant to it. As if the daytime trees and flowers and stones had gone to bed and sent slightly more ominous versions of them to take their places. As I walk on this familiar path my mind drifts back to the memories which I cherish the most. A part of me had always wanted to go back to the time when it all happened, somehow wishing that I would save her. I could still see people dressed in white in front of me. Nighttime had always been the time when the demons residing within me came out to play; to bring out the worst in me. But, that day was different, that day my angels decided to shield me from the darkness, pain and agony. My heart didn’t throb; my soul became a bird in the sky. With every moment came peace, and, with every breath, exuberance. The wind ruffles towards me justifying that there is no one about me. I had reached the spot where I had been seeking happiness and asylum from last some months. I sat on the bench and looked at the water of the serpentine. It was gracious. A mother and her son of about 4 passed by me. The latter looked at me and passed an innocent smile to which I smiled back. My eyes seemed to flow in the direction of the little boy who now tried to match pace with his mother. My timepiece showed exactly 8 pm. It was an old Casio which was gifted to me by my father years back and I had promised to keep it safely with me. The leather strap was almost on the verge of breaking off from the glass and I remember one of my cousins telling me to do something about it.
“Uhh..excuse me?” a voice emerged from somewhere and in a bid to find its possessor, I looked in the promising direction. A girl of about 19 years stood behind me in what seemed to be like a black burlap sack.
“Mind if I sit here?” she further asked. I nodded gently and watched her come in front and then sit beside me. She held a blue coat in her hands and placed it on her lap as she sat down, then seemed to look at the unending horizon.
“You come here often?” I asked her and stared in the direction she was looking. I could sense her smile and the curve of her lips trying to form a reaction to my question. Her eyes blinked!
“Yeah I do..mostly because I love the shadows and the shades of night. It just brings out the best in me. It subdues my fiery defiance” said she and glared at me. I looked back in anticipation. The glitter in her eyes, a bit of rebelliousness, her aura; everything about her added more to the beautiful strokes of the night.
“Shades of night?” I asked and couldn’t help but smile to the fact that she and I both had a certain hint of similarity in us.
“You know before we invented civilization our ancestors lived in the open out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment; we watched the stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was more to it than that” she said and paused waiting for my reaction.
“Sounds interesting..go ahead?” I said and smiled a bit more. She smiled back and tilted her head.
“ Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.” said she.
“Well I must admit you have a very interesting theory of the mortality of skies. The true joy of a moonlit night is something we no longer understand. Only the men of old, when there were no lights, could understand the true joy of a moonlit night..thats why I come here to this place.” I said and watched her look above.
Sometimes while gazing at the night sky, I have imagined stars looking down making wishes on the brightest of us. The feeling of being so close to something so perfect has always me in the past amazed me and now I share this feeling with this stranger, someone whom I haven’t ever met in my life but who seems so alike.
“Look there.” She pointed toward the northern sky. “Polaris.”
I looked up following her direction and said “The constant north star, one of man’s most dependable guides.”
“Polaris will be waiting for us there when we are old and have experienced a lifetime of joys and regrets,” said she, a wistful note in her voice. “That fact makes me feel like one of God’s most insignificant creatures.” Every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile. We spent the night beside the river bank, talking about anything to everything. She told me about her aspirations, I told her about mine. She told me she liked to play the guitar, I told her I liked to sing. Laughs and giggles followed occasionally on the subjects which were hilarious.
And as the dawn leaked into the sky it edited out the stars like excess punctuation marks, deleting asterisks and periods, commas, and semi-colons, leaving only unhinged thoughts rotating and pivoting, and unsecured words.
“Oh and by the way” she said brushing her hair off her shoulders gently. I looked at her.
“I am Stuti” she completed her sentence and put a hand forward. Our hands met with a sudden and quite delicateness followed by the chirping of birds. We gazed in each other’s eyes for considerable seconds and the smile never seemed to fade away.
These were my first moments with her..They still remain with me for how can I lose such a precious memory which changed my world forever!
A moonlit sky..a hatchery of stars..shades of night..2 people and The Dawn!
“And into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell where there shall be no cloud nor sun no darkness nor dazzling but one equal light, no noise nor silence but one equal music, no fears nor hopes but one equal possession, no foes nor friends but one equal communion and identity..no endings nor beginnings but one equal eternity…”