Solo

The sins of an over-hectic schedule caught up with me this weekend. I’ve been working quite hard and partying rather hard too, for my metabolism. When you wake up on a weekday (and in these times, on a weekend too), there isn’t a minute to be wasted. So much to do, so many people to meet, call, email, SMS or just talk to that I’m already planning my itenary while brushing me teeth. There’s no time to be tired or even think of it.

I spent all of yesterday sleeping and in the intervals, posting. As a direct result, I couldn’t sleep at night. After finishing The Unbearable Lightness of Being (which like the earlier Identity got to dragging a bit and then abruptly ended), I moved on to The Class by Eric Segal. I like to give myself these breaks from each author and genre, its mental cleansing…sort of dusting off one frame of mind by shifting it aside and putting another one in its place.

At around 6, I got up to get a bar of chocolate to keep me company with the lives of the Harvardians of ’58. And then I saw it.

Sunrise over the Mumbai skyline

As I pushed open the curtains, I looked at the indescribable hues of pink streaking across at 14th floor level while a little higher a pale white-yellow faded into the gray of the still-night.

It has been nearly ten years since I was at this place. Every day, every single day since then in this city I call home, I’ve woken up too early or too late or too busy for that magic moment when night turns to day.

And yet, there was a time I used to get to college early just so I could catch this view from the top floor of my college building. I don’t know why I liked this time of the day. It just represented to me the fresh hope and newness of the world I was stepping into. Nearly a decade later, when so much of that world has gone from distant dream to sometimes-grating reality, the freshness of this moment hasn’t been lost.

A long time ago, I don’t even remember when, I dreamt that some day I would have a career that didn’t require me to sleep at night and work at day. I wanted to work through the night, in solitude and welcome the day at this moment, alone always. And my job done, go to bed until it was time to get up and start preparing to welcome yet another day. Maybe that isn’t an impossible dream after all. Writers can work any hours they choose, so long as they finish on time.

A couple of days back I mentioned this among a group of colleagues. One of them stared in disbelief and said,

“You mean not talk to people at all?”
“As little as possible”

Everyone burst out laughing. Actually, I laughed too, the whole idea seemed so ludicrous. That I, chatterbox par excellence, owner of boundless social-energy would want to become a recluse. Naaah…

And yet, this morning, as on all those mornings a far decade ago I realised that the reality, the being, the personality I had chosen for the world wasn’t the only thing that was possible for me. There is another part of me that longs for the peace and calm that I have found only in solitude. My blogging started off with an expression of it but has become enmeshed in my ‘other’ side as well.

Some day I’ll go back and be the first person I was. I’ll welcome mornings alone. I think I was born an observer, a watcher. I learnt to become a doer and talker. But standing in the presence of the early morning being born, I remember my primitive urges.

At this time there usually aren’t too many cars, it being too late for the late-nighters and too early for the morning commuters. But occasionally there is a cyclist or an unscheduled tempo carrying milk or some identified raw material that will no doubt be converted into something I and the rest of the city consume later in the day….food, newspaper, a road.

There’s a light flicking on in one of the windows of the building opposite. And, a few minutes later, a silhouette of a man, hand raised and rested on the bars of the grille faces mine. At this distance we can’t see each other’s features but each can tell there is another present in this moment. Watching the world and morning being born.

I wonder sometimes why sunrises in other places don’t affect me as much as they do here. It is a strange fact since I’ve seen the sunrise in other places…big cities, towns and a village too. But in all those places, a sunrise was just a sunrise. But here, it is a reminder that this busy, tireless, hardworking city of mine slumbers too. I watch over it quietly and see the new morning that is gifted to it each day. It is a city that uses every resource, every chance, every opportunity it gets and what is a new day but a supreme gift. We don’t get the time to treasure it enough though. That’s okay. On behalf of my city, my home, I stand saluting to creation and say

“Thank you.”

*Also published on The Idea-smithy.

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