She had had a rather late night last night, having walked out of her hut after dinner, after well into an hour into what would be time she’d be off to sleep on any other day. But the night – by her measure of things – was special.
No, it wasn’t a full moon; in fact, to think of it, full moon nights weren’t exactly her personal favourites, though for a long time she had thought that she ought to think more of full-moon nights than she does. The mere fact that philosophers and poets would always put their bet on full moons than upon the darker ones… But no! Since the time she’d arrived (arrived – yes, that perhaps is the right choice of word?) she’s been falling more in love with the dark, quiet times that some nights offer when they don’t quite let the moon explode into its full blast.
Last night was such a night – whole and contained, rounded up into a compelling kind of darkness that was warmer than what the plain brightness of light can ever have to offer. She had looked up at the sky for a while, she thinks, sitting on the stack of hay that that young woman who worked for her in the day had left behind. She had sat on it, looking at the sky for possibly a longer time than she can imagine – she knows not – now. She doesn’t recollect exactly when… but then after a point, she had walked back into her hut to collect a shawl, the only that she’d brought with her, and then walked out again of her door – more prepared, determined this second time.
To walk out on yourself – it’s such a freedom, I tell you!
She had walked a little down on the trail until… how far is that place? She had perhaps stopped to ponder but not for too long; she had then decided she’d do what comes in mind without – yes, consciously if she needs to – stopping to think over the meaninglessness of it all. Some time later, and of course she cannot tell how long though – she had found herself – her back on the ground and her arms stretched wide – lying there, almost motionless, facing the sky eye to eye. She kept there idle yet intent, looking at the many little lights that lit themselves one by one on the roof of the earth. These lights, those stars… you know how they act when no one watches? They shine and hide in turn, as if piercing through tiny holes of the tattered shroud of black of the moonless sky – as if they formed a whole layer of light behind the dark but the darkness wouldn’t quite let them in!
But they tried…
She had found herself smiling at them, almost conspiringly smiling – as if sharing a secret tiny yet important – just as each of them. The stars were so… what do you say? Inconspicuous and yet so indispensable, weren’t they?
It was a strange feeling, to just lie there, to just face upwards… at the sky; she doesn’t know how long last night she’d watched them twinkle at her – relentlessly yet incoherently. It is – she thought as she watched those stars – that they could really dazzle or dim as they wished. And then, as it seemed, neither of it brought to them any extra glory, an accolade, than the other.
Do they look the same from anywhere on the earth? Do they know how they look from here, from her?
Do they even… care?
How does it matter – in scheme of things, if she were to think – if they do, or don’t? What does she care… as long as she knows them and that they know her too – as much as they do right then, right there? Has she ever, in all her life, known anyone as closely and as surely as she knows the stars then? Did she ever expose herself as much ever as she does now, this night?
How does that matter, either?
Actually, to think of it – She tries and avoids thinking of things in perspective these days. It helps, really. As much poetic as it may sound when fell on other ears, there is little fun in missing out on the here, on the now of it.
Like, take this moment for an example, this – right now!
It’s been over an hour that she’s gotten up. Today – she thinks – she’d try a different routine… But then, that’s something she so often does nowadays that she’s forgotten what she was trying to break from. Today she thinks she’d cook something she had never known before. She’d go out in the fields a few plots away from where they raised vegetables and gave her from. That area – where she’d go today – that’d be a first for her, and she had been – as she realizes now – been avoiding that space because she was perhaps scared of the tall grasses, taller than double her own height, that covered the periphery of the place. But now that she realized, her next resolve is to make an exception to it, and so she goes!
They stayed on the other side of the clearing. They seem to be a relatively new clan, these farmers. They’ve not been here for longer than just a couple of years, they say. Five or six huts, a family of three to five in each – that was more or less what they were about.
She does not ask what it is, when they tell her that – of course – she could collect as much of what she want as she want. She doesn’t want to know what it is, and so she put up a rather knowing face as she asks, and goes around to pick up the bundles the middle-aged farmer wife makes her with her swift, practiced strokes of axe. She says thank you, and that no more is needed, and makes her way back… excited of what would become of what she was carrying back home to cook. Will she cook it with salt, or sugar? Both, she decides. Oil… how much? Will she keep it rather dry, or should it be boiled into a mash? Oh, it’s such a liberating feeling, this, to know how anything can be made out of this small green bundle of leaves and soft branches that she now carries in an embrace close to her heart, walking back past the known fields across the unknown, wide grey clouds above, brown dry grasses beneath, a thin faded blue line of coconut grove for a horizon (or is it dates, or palm trees?)…
It’s beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. This world, this morning… just look at it!
No, wait. Not breathtaking, she decides. It’s more, much more than that – surely more overwhelming, perhaps more a quite kind of a feeling, this. It’s… it’s painstakingly beautiful, actually. More than… well, who cares!
“Stay now,” she murmurs to herself. “Stay now, because in another lifetime you couldn’t. See, it’s as beautiful as it can get, and for now, for now, that alone is enough!”Published in