What happens in an Indian village at 5:30 am?
Ileya, the rooster, waited impatiently inside his upside down basket, stealing quick nervous peeks between its narrow gaps. The straw basket which served to store cow dung during the day, housed him during the night. Right now, he was too preoccupied to even notice its stench. Outside the basket however, the wind was flitting gracefully between the trees. He made sure to brush against everyone he met, making them laugh as he circled around them playfully. Everyone was besotted with the wind, he always seemed to carry their favorite scent as he breezed past them. He seemed to be everywhere at once, basking in everyone’s attention at once. And like every morning, the wind came to greet Ileya with his favorite scent of fresh hay. To his amusement, he saw Ileya picking at his feathers nervously and clucking to himself in the faint light.
‘Little red rooster, you look silly under your smelly basket!’, he teased.
‘Shut up! Don’t make fun, I want to win today.’
‘But you haven’t ever won a game my little rooster.’, the wind continued gaily.
‘I will win today’, Ileya insisted stubbornly.
The wind stopped his prancing and looked upon Ileya. He saw a young dirty rooster who had been up all night, who now was scowling because he was losing a childish game of hide and seek. The innocence warmed him. With a strong gush that almost lifted Ileya off his feet he asked,’How would you like to win today?’
Ileya answered with a grin that was infectious.
‘Keep your eyes on me!’, the wind cried out before flying straight to the neem tree in the east.
Certain that he now carried the dusky odor of the sun, he rushed straight to the neem leaves. In the beginning he brushed against them faintly, letting them breathe him in. The neem leaves felt heady, wanting more of their favorite smell. They prepared themselves, all of them waiting to take their next deep breath as the wind hurled himself against them. But this time, the wind came at them from all directions, dancing through them, tickling all of them at once. The neem leaves scattered, laughing and out of breath. And the neem leaves scattered enough to let Ileya catch a glimpse of the sun creeping stealthily towards them over the horizon. Ileya had found her! He kicked the basket off him swiftly, threw his head back and let his triumphant crowing ring through the village! Jumping on the parapet wall, he heard his brothers crowing too,congratulating him as they came out of their baskets. He had won! He had found the sun!
Ileya watched the sun as she smiled at him, the warmth reaching his bones. As she started drawing closer towards them, Ileya held his breath in awe. The wind was still dancing with the neem leaves. With practised skill, he waltzed with each of the leaves letting the sun shine off them, making them look like sparkling diamonds to Ileya, before spinning them in a different direction. In the retreating twilight, Ileya thought the tree looked ablaze with the sun seeping through the leaves. With a final bow celebrating the sun’s rise, the wind flew past all of them at once, making their skins tingle with her warmth. She rose majestically now, darkness bowing down and making way for her. The stars seemed to shy away from her brilliance. Everything absorbed her warmth, her life. She was life. This was her time now, as she took her place in the sky. It was day.