The light blue LED of my fully charged laptop stares at me, appearing scandalized by its mere presence, coruscating like the luminous eyes of some still unknown, distant alien. Overhead, whirring on its own nonchalantly, is the fan, crisscrossing the blue rays, making peculiar patterns on the ceiling, reminding me of some expensive discotheque in some funky college movie. My eyes are wide awake and I use them to figure out the time from the radium encrusted hands of the clock, serenely hung up there, on the wall, with glowing protuberances of AJANTA, whiling away its own time – ticking and tocking – quite indifferent to its surroundings. The atmosphere is cool, dampened by the late night condensation; a deep silence prevails, rhythmically interrupted by the rustling of pages, a book unceremoniously heaped near the pillow; the pair of glasses reflecting some of the light blue rays, quietly ensconced in the groove of the binding. I force myself out of the comfortable bed, grope for my sneakers with the tip of my toes and carry myself down to the washroom.
It is four O’ clock, the sun has not appeared yet, and I am here, on the lower berth of a train, during one of my voyages across the great plains of the holy Ganges and the mammoth Brahmaputra. My parents are in their deepest of slumbers, like all other passengers of the compartment, blithely indifferent to the two of us. There is my younger brother, a malnourished midget then, but an overgrown baster now: two inches; hands hanging down the seat, like the end of a thick rope, moving to and fro, synchronizing with the train’s sensual hurling symphony. I wave to myself, already aware of the response though, or rather the lack of response; he keeps staring out the window, certainly doing what I enjoyed the most, when I was him: looking at the nature racing outside.
Trees of varied size and shape, presenting different semblances of the same color, green, nature’s mark; inexorably diminishing away with the velocity of the train, giving way to diverse herbs and shrubs now and then, intermittently blocked by the electric poles. Streams, ponds, brooks, tanks and rivers; the indisputable final sources of fresh water, the reasons behind the outgrowth of civilization in these plains; banking the great fields, fields of sugarcane, of paddy and wheat; the dung-flower floating hither and thither, buffaloes being washed, men and women cleaning themselves, children howling and flapping the surface of water with their hands; I always used to get afraid when the train passed over some bridge, making a horrendous din, terrifying to the extent of raising my hairs, my imagination would create unfriendly scenes in my mind- what would happen if the bridge collapses? And there are mighty mountains, in the route comprising regions of Assam and West Bengal, grandeur pouring out from mention of the word itself, surging through the very soul of mine; the mountains remind me of many things: the Kamakhya temple, any worthy description of which requires a whole new post; the Vaishnon temple, yet another example of nature’s exotic brilliance, which quite interestingly my smaller self is still unaware of; the story I read in my fifth standard in which the princess chose the rat over the mountain as her probable bridegroom because the rat could make holes at the latter’s base (strange though, but true). In fact I have always fantasized living an adventurous life among the mountains, sipping a cup of warm coffee while reading a book, going for a walk down the slope and then coming back, with a cute puppy; lying down on a cozy armchair and absorbing the heralded beauty of mountains: the immaculate heights, the fog, the cedar forests, the sprinkling brooks, the ladder fields, the snaky roads, the consummate potpourri of nature’s gifts. And then I suddenly remember that I have never been to a sea shore, no, I must have visited it at least once, once when I lived in Madras, but at that time I was too young, too immature to comprehend the meaning of sea waves.
Standing there on the deck of a running train with my younger self, I try to recollect what I am thinking right now, as an eight year old boy, who does not wear glasses and has little knowledge of the vastness of this world, the diversity present here, the good things which bind it together: love and peace; and the bad things which infest it incessantly and try to divide it: hatred and agony, diseases and debauchery. He must be thinking something good, I am sure; I am too used to myself and my facial expressions. The sun has not risen yet; may be the light rays are just eight minutes away or maybe they have not started their pilgrim yet; maybe I am becoming too philosophical and maybe, I should stop thinking such futile things.
May be I should concentrate more on washing my hands; may be the world is too right to be ignored further: that senility is not actually due to senescence but a natural consequence of constant and harmful brooding: thinking and imagining that you can actually visit your past like in a pensieve; that mad people (tend to) wake up at four O’ clock and think about going to the rooftop.
I decide to go against the world.…
My name is Rahul Sharma. People call me Monu, my pet name. I like traveling in trains. Now, I am on a train looking outside the window. There is darkness only. I am waiting for the morning to occur. Everybody is sleeping. I look at my father’s watch. It is four in the morning. The vacations were very good. I visited all my uncles and aunts. It was a memorable experience in Delhi but I don’t like it very much. Cold gushes of outside wind slap at my face. Third standard is very hard because there is English as the main subject. I am trying to learn it. So I try and write more. There are dark dots outside the window running continuously. Suddenly there is light in the sky. First red and then white. Sun is going up slowly. The world is visible now. I think this is the first sunrise I have seen because I usually wake up after six am. It looks like the train is revolving round the sun. I press my face on the rods in the window and try to see the engine. I enjoy doing it very much. The engine whistles and spread a lot of smoke in the air. I am on the 24th coach behind the engine. Suddenly I suffer from toilet. I stand up and go to the end of the coach to pee.
It feels much lighter, now that I have emptied my bladders, night time peeing: one of the idiosyncratic symptoms of people with kidney problem; I quietly tiptoe myself across the hall, clamber up the stairs to rooftop, all the while making sure that nobody wakes up accidentally. The modern street lights do not prevent the darkness from showing its engrossing presence, it is thick: the air, making it a little bit difficult to breathe; I look up at the sky, the moon is there, shining more palely than I have ever seen it; it is losing its sheen, as seconds pass by, slowly and serenely, as the first rays of the sun strike the surface of the earth. I am surrounded by a multitude of flats, each of them distinct in its own way, each of them having a unique position in the heart of its dwellers; the sound of distant trucks, buses and cars, being carried by the tardily flowing pangs of wind, strike the eardrum of my ears. The black slowly dissolves itself into deep red, followed by its lighter versions; rays emanate from the roofs in the eastern direction, perhaps the sun has already risen and I am unable to see it in full glory due the obstructing buildings. The sky is painted with red and yellow as if two entire bottles of water color, one red and other yellow, have been spilled up on a piece of paper and it is trying to absorb them; there are black dots, signifying the presence of twittering birds, welcoming the sun in their own unique way. The imagery is picture perfect, the exact analogy of what they describe through language, through paintings, through various other modes of communication developed my human being, but, still, there is a lot more to grasp, a lot more to dive into; perhaps that is what is enchanting about nature, we can never feel it through others. And now there appears the sun, the ultimate source of energy, of light, of warmth; the red and orange of the sky slowly fades into yellow and then starts dissolving into the most pristine form of white; the moisture disappears and a comforting heat soothes my entire body, each and every cell feels energetic, like it has been supplied with enormous quantities of glucose and mitochondria, like it has taken an entirely new birth; I feel ecstatic, pleasure in its extreme form. According to Hindu mythology, The Sun God travels in the sky on a chariot carried by seven horses; according to experiment done by numerous physicists, light is a mixture of seven colors; seven is the only thing common between them, yet it binds them for eternity; the seven horses scatter as they pass through the atmosphere and give delusions of different colors to the observer. As the sun surges up the sky, I contemplate: twelve years have passed since I first observed the sunrise, yet it is the same: the same feeling of nostalgia, the same feeling of amazement for the power of nature’s brilliance; time travels in circles: it continuously keeps throwing you into similar situations; what changes is us, our modes of communicating with the world, our ways of looking at the things.
Life is, perhaps, too short to neglect things like these…..