The evening sky bore a striking resemblance to the picture, that was etched in my mind, of the sky I had grown up spending hours on, watching and adoring, from the living room balcony of our residence in the southern part of India. The vast expanse of blue, the sporadic burst of snow white clouds, the flight of varied flocks of birds chirping away as they made their way back to their dwellings, the solitary eagle that stood tall and hovered way above the birds and the descending sun that was more gentle to the human eye at this hour spraying different shades of crimson and gold – they all made a familiar, yet a visually absorbing sight.
I had loved simply gazing at the sky as the clouds went by, even as I grew up. I could easily spend hours just doing that.
Now, after all these years of much change that the world around us had brought about, as I stared at the evening sky through the broad window of my living room in another part of the globe, it was heartening to see that there were still some things that had not changed whatsoever. It brought a sense of comfort to the mind.
The crimson dominated sky was now interrupted by a few streaks of anxious grey, as if to signal the impending onset of the night, even as the sun hid behind a puffy cloud. The smile on my face diminished somewhat. How a little change in the appearance of the sky can change one’s mood! I sat still, as the sun reappeared from behind the clouds, for what was to be one last time. I could, however, see how rapidly it was going down.
The farewell chirps of the birds heading back home filled the air, even as the eagle floated high and handsome, in no particular hurry, as if to provide oversight, to this all familiar routine of day. There was a sense of monotony to this routine, yet there was a freshness yielded by the luminescent rays of the sun. It seemed like just an act performed on yet another day, but at another level, it seemed to have a sense of perpetuity, of an act that transcended time, rendering all that transpired in this so called world of ours, the material world, absolutely irrelevant.
By now, the sun had set, slipping into the distant ocean as it appeared, as verily as a compact disc that would slip into the vertical slot of a music system. There were still beams of light that the sun had left behind, that continued to illuminate the sky. The last few flocks of birds – [ there are two types of birds as I have observed: one that head back home well before time of dark playing it safe, like many of us, and then the other type, who I call the risk takers, who like to devour every morsel of time left of day before scurrying home at the last minute of daylight ] – were now rushing hurriedly back with a vigorous flapping of wings, after making the most of the last few minutes of their day, like kids who liked to make the most of the last few minutes of their allotted time at the play area.
I switched on the tall tower lamp at the corner of my living room as a prepared act to offset any darkness that may have started setting in. I turned the music system on, as soft instrumental notes of the saxophone filled the room. Ironically enough, the silence that may have prevailed, seemed more pronounced with the music now coming on.
The light gradually faded away and the dark of the night crept in, silently, yet in the most potent way.
Nature had announced the end of day. The birds had all returned to their respective homes by now. The chirpings had ceased. The music playing in my living room, stopped too, as a matter of sheer coincidence, as if to respect the onset of the night. Nights were meant to be silent after all, as even portrayed by scores of poems and songs over the years.
The sounds of silence, of stillness, took over. The mind was silent too, although the darkness brought along with it, shades of anxiety and apprehension, as if to bear on the confident mind, as if to wear down on its ambitions and fuel its fears. The dark of the night had this quality that seemed inexplicable.
I stood up and walked to the balcony adjoining my living room, still looking at the dark sky. The trees at the background were no longer clearly visible. The squeaking sounds of the insects and the intermittent croaking of the frogs in the nearby pond added flavor to the eerie silence. Strangely these sounds always seemed to add to the silence, rather than break it.
A lazy, cool breeze graced my face. The solitary north star showed up in its glittering self, dispelling somewhat the darkness, that still overshadowed the sky. Gradually, a few more stars appeared across the sky, like scattered pieces of crystals.
And then, at the far end of the sky, from behind the trees, as if from another world, silently appeared the silver painted moon. The moon, in its full manifestation, cast a blanket of welcome light over the dark, black night. The ambience lit up instantly and poured over any apprehensions that the darkness may have brought along. The night sky now appeared complete and settled.
My mind too, magically tuned to the mood of the sky, now felt settled.
A smile appeared on my face, as I made my way back indoors, into the inevitable material world.