From my first son Ananth’s house to my second son Atchuth’s , it is about 3 1/2 hrs drive. When we started around 7 P M , the sky was very bright. Seated in the front seat, I looked up and was amazed at the celebration in the sky to bid farewell to the Sun . The whole of the western horizon was golden as if thousands of big, polished brass lamps had risen high from the woods, all of a sudden . Have you been to Vaikkathashtami, the annual festival at the Mahadeva temple in Vaikom?. At late night, there is a huge elephant-procession there. The glittering idols of the gods suddenly shine high above your head carried by lustrously caparisoned jumbos, when powerful torches, soaked in oil, tied to the end of high poles, rise in large numbers. The Baltimore sky was like that. What is the importance to day, I ask myself and self-answer. Baltimore sky is like this every evening but I don’t come out and join the divine celebration. Fixing my eyes on the screen of a stupid computer or close to the pages of a book I waste my time, I waste my life. In fact, all the skies are like this every evening in summer, whether in Palakkad, Paris, Baltimore or Baluchistan and then why do you boast, ‘I am from Palakkad?’. I ask my self and laugh.
” What is that Appa?”, asks my son. ”Nothing, Kutta”, I tell him .
Hei, wait a minute . Look at the left side, not far from the sun. There is a large assembly of clouds and they are all of pure silver shade, brilliant, lavishly bright. They are of different form, different shape, different size. Some like lion, elephant, crocodile or polar bear. Some like my grand mother holding a stick, some like the vegetable cart puller who shouts in front of my house, every morning, ‘paalakkoora, thottakoora’. How are these bright silver heavenly bodies maintaining their original color completely unaffected by the overwhelmingly golden colored bright golden rays of the Sun, I ask myself again. I then turn to the sides. The thick woods, oaks, pines , maples and other earthy bodies are all in high spirits, maintaining their dark green . How are the woods remaining unaffected by the glamour of the Sun? How do they retain their originality, I ask myself . Now I withdraw my eyes from the woods and look at myself. Pant,T- shirt, jacket . Why all these ? Why don’t you cover your lower part with a single white cloth and be bare-chested as you used to be in Hyderabad or Perinkulam, I ask my self. Why are you allowing yourself to be influenced by the local dress code? Why can’t you remain unaffected like the oaks, pines and cherries around , I ask myself and laugh at the reply I get.
”Are you OK Appa?” asks my son. ”yes I am good. I tell him”
” Appa, would you like to have some coffee?” asks my son. I am not answering.
I am gazing at the sky, alternately at the woods. Suddenly, from nowhere, like a huge serpent with thousand hoods, darkness leaps and swallows the sun, clouds, the whole sky. I am sad. I divert my eyes, look to my left, then to my right. Everywhere the demon darkness has swallowed every thing. I look at the speedometer- crossed 80.
Gold or silver, it makes no difference for the darkness. Good or bad, wealthy or poor, pious or sinner, it makes no difference for the Death. I never worry about Death, but ‘ why now ‘ I ask myself. I blame the demonic thousand-hooded serpent , darkness in the sky, all over the woods, for my thoughts on Death. ‘What a fool you are ?’ asks someone from within and answers,’the darkness is the mother of brightness. the sky is in the process of conceiving now and in a few hours another sun will be born.”
So, there is hope and we live on hope.
“Appa, coffee” Ananth asks. “hm” I nod yes.
How many suns I have seen born and dying ! how many clouds I have seen being formed and getting liquidated ! So, there is no birth or death. Just a process of recycling. And ominous darkness overcasting the sky is a very normal affair. It is a part of the Nature’s dance . If so, why call it ominous?
My son has gone to pick up the coffee cup. I can laugh loudly now, as I am alone in the car, at my own madness of worrying about death or disparity in my dress codes. Let not mind distinguish between gold and silver, light and darkness, birth and death, I tell myself. All are one. overcome the illusion that they are different, I tell again, to myself.
Ananth hands over a hot cup of coffee. I sip the hot Starbucks. ”Our Hyderabad coffee is coffee. Intha coffee sukham illaida” I tell my son.
Now it is his turn to laugh.
I don’t ask him, ‘ are you OK, kutta?’