In a district in Bihar, above a paediatrics hospital, is a house. And on the speckled granite terrace of this house, I have settled myself to spectate upon this marvellous phenomenon that is called the sunset.
A blotchy orange sun drapes the westward sky; and the westward wind bestows upon me, a Cheshire cat grin for no reason.
I have a warm cup of green tea and a tiny money plant in a glass fish bowl to keep me company.
There’s a bonsai Jasmine, currently too bashful to bloom in my presence. The holy basil, completes the sanctity of the balcony I am on, on this clear evening in Siwan, Bihar.
The closest tree is the Gulmohar with barely a leaf; as if the summer had burned the tree and fanned its red flames until winter soothed the burnt out tree and prepared it to be set ablaze again.
Areca palm bushes, with invisible chirpy crickets, shroud the entire view to the east. Clothes dry on an aluminium crisscross rack, along with home grown turmeric roots on the granite tiles, both soaking up as much of the setting winter sun as they can get.
The cemented giant water tank towers over the lands like a god father, who also provides for the family around him. A little climber is making its way to the god father onto a string suspended from atop the tank. He is a giver, and is dwarfed only by three lanky tv towers in the distance.
From where I sit, I see acres of semi-cultivated farm land strewn with pigeon pea, nested amidst semi-developed houses. And In the distance is the Baelpattar or the wood apple tree, speckled with green dots of unripe fruit which would take another eleven months to turn yellow. The tree is in dire need of a haircut.
It is between this tree and its mate, the Kadam tree, that I can barely make out a gate leading into a playground. Through the gate, I can see an occasional fielder running after a ball heading towards the boundary, which according to me is a lost cause, as the boundary seems to be just beyond the gate. But a boy’s got to do what a boy’s got to do and just chase that elusive dream and worry about boundaries later.
There is a bhajan playing relentlessly in the distance about Rama and other gods that these people aspire to be. It is their ‘go to’ song by the end of the day I guess. I can only hear the word “rama” and “hare”.
Suddenly, at 5:00 P.M., a muezzin arouses at a mosque somewhere and overpowers all other senses for a few minutes and then returns to slumber until the next prayer call. But then one after the other, atleast 3 other muezzins arouse and I hear them singing as if in competition with each other. At one point, they all coincide and it sounds more like howling than prayer call. And all of a sudden, they stop and silence returns to console me with a few words of solace.
The giant plum in the sky has already set behind lines of litchi trees and rows of unpainted red brick houses in the west. Baby fruit bats straying from their regular path pay a visit over the balcony and flutter away towards the trees. I donate blood to the mosquitoes from all over Siwan, which seem to have taken a liking to me.
The maid comes to sweep the perpetually dusty terrace. She is as tall as the broom she handles, and the mosquitoes and the laptop wielding guy seem inconspicuous to her.
The night overtakes the twilight and reveals itself unabashed of all its shadows and secrets.
The single red light atop the tv tower goes on. Wonder if it was on all this while. Very few lights go on in the distance. The bhajan in the distance is changed into a filmy devotional song. The instruments change and a devout female seems to be singing in the name of Rama like she was imploring him to help her from her in laws.
The bael tree is a shadow now, and a ray of light from a bulb somewhere in the distance penetrates through and falls upon my retina.
The gulmohar looks even more barren than it did.
The water tank now looks like an iron giant about to spring to life at the slightest chance.
I see a coconut tree’s shadow in the west side; something that I hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes a change of light is all that is required to make us take notice of what had always been there.
It is here that my father in law sat and probably thought about his daughter’s boyfriend. It is here that my girlfriend sat and probably decided I was the one. It is here that I sit and write and meditate and heal myself.
In the land of Buddha’s shawyan; In the land of the our first president and the land of the most famous con artist, I sit here atop this terrace, under the Bihar skies, reflecting all I am, and was, and will be.