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A midnight like this


Between September 20 and 21, 2012

It is almost midnight. Placed surreptitiously between a Thursday and a Friday. Between the 20th and 21st of September, 2012. She is wide awake. Unusual. She usually sleeps early. No, it is not insomnia. Tonight, strangely, she does not want to sleep. Swanand Kirkere is singing Raatiya… kaari kaari raatiya. She loves Kirkere’s throaty voice. She is wearing yellow. The colour of lemon. Her hair is still wet after the evening bath. Stalks of rajnigandha standing in a slender Chinese vase are seductively fragrant. In the clay urli floats pink maltilata. Flowers are always around her. There was a time she wore six-yard monochrome chiffons and tucked flowers in her hair. No longer.

The squirrel is sleeping in the kitchen window drey. She loves the squirrels. She has never told them that, though. The pigeons have occupied her balcony and living room window. The mynah flies in every forenoon to bathe in the steel bird bath. The sparrow waits for her turn. Patiently. The parakeets saunter in the afternoon. For millet. It is their lunch.

Her white walls are stark. Absolutely stark. She loathes drilling nails into walls. Nails, she knows, hurt the walls. Somehow reminds her of Christ's crucifixion. There is no calendar in her house. Days/years mean nothing. They are merely numbers. Superfluous facts. She refuses to wear a watch. She cannot be subservient to a ticking clock. Hasn’t worn a watch in a decade. Probably, more. She laughs, says she has renounced time. Just as she has renounced other things. Like, meat. She used to eat meat everyday. Everyday. One morning she got up and vowed she won’t eat meat ever again. Ever. She hasn't. She renounced it. And became a vegetarian. It has been more than a decade. Probably, more.

On her brown study table lie a stack of postcards. Those yellow 50-paise postcards that are almost obsolete now. She finds those yellow postcards so retro chic. Do you know of anyone who drops yellow postcards into a red letter box? She does. She still loves writing postcards. Scribbling squiggles on them. Gluing stickers. Writing little notes in cursive hand. In green ink. Like Pablo Neruda, she always writes in green. Neruda called green the colour of hope. She loves green. Not for a reason. Just like that. Specially, the green of rain-washed leaves.

A half-knitted white woollen sock is lonely on a red hassock. She will complete it before the friend's birthday in October.

In three days, she’ll be Vancouver. On assignment.

It is almost midnight. She is awake. Wide awake. She is home. Is she? No.

She has sleepwalked to somewhere else. There, where she wants to be. Where her dreams sleep. Where the landscape is poetry. Where moonlight is sufficient to shoo darkness. Where, when she gets lost, fireflies pool their silver incandescence and show her the path. There, where a bright star has a name. Her name. Where a handful of sky is hers. Hers. Where there is sand under her feet. In which she can stick her toe. Where, when the sand gets wet with rain, she can scribble a sonnet on it.

It is almost midnight. She is awake. Wide awake. But she has sleepwalked to that somewhere, where she is the happiest. Where she loses her liquid steps. Yet, finds herself. Where love exists eternally between his shadow and her soul. Where, there is no you and I. Where, when she wants to sleep, the peacock spreads its wings. The cicada sings. The night bestows a beautiful breeze. The river gurgles a dulcet lullaby. Secure in his shadow, her large, black eyes close. And she sleeps. Under a champa tree.


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