There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Akaash, Our Boundless Sky

By Ananya Mukherjee

Kis kis ko bataayenge judaai kaa sabab hum
Tu mujhse khafaa hai to zamaane kay liye aa
(Who else must I explain the reason of separation

Come, despite your displeasure, to continue the ceremony)

An alarm screeches loud and clear through the silence of the night. Thirty minutes past four. Half asleep, my hands reach out to stop the annoying buzz of the black and gold clock ticking on my bedside table. Obviously, I don't mean to wake the whole neighborhood up, not at least at this hour. Fifteen minutes later, I slowly drag myself out of bed. It's difficult to part with the comforts of the soft cushions, blankets and a warm bed, especially on a late autumn dawn such as this one, but I manage to put on my sportswear, a warm jacket, track shoes and head out of home. 
I have been living in isolation for a couple of years now. Tired of the recklessness of urban corporate and social life, I have deliberately decided to move out of relationships and everything else that was once tied to my name and chosen to live my own life in this tiny hill-station up in the Himalayas. Far away from the dispensable luxuries of being known, I have consciously opted to close myself to faces and names I was once familiar with. Instead, I have opened myself up to the unknown, to explore and welcome the unfamiliar and rediscover my own self in the entire process, an intentional stance towards self actualization through the art of elimination. In Indian philosophy, we call it the third cycle of life, Vanaprastha or the preparation period before complete renunciation. They say, the life of a man is divided into four asramas or orders—Bramhacharya (preparation for domestic life), Grihastya (domestic duty), Vanaprastha (preparation for asceticism) and Sanyasa (monastic duty).  It is interesting to note how our ancestors had foreseen the stressful temperament of our modern lives and therefore, had prescribed individuals to adapt themselves with the changing requirements of time.       
No, it is not a physical or emotional abstinence that I am talking about for myself when I align my decision of isolated living to the age-old concept of Vanaprastha, only a preparation perhaps. I haven't given up on everything to live the life of a hermit. I still read and write for a living, still enjoy my evening drink over a forgotten ghazal, and still hopelessly fall in love with babies, flowers, music, rains and sunsets. It's just that true to my name, I have made this unique decision to call it quits while I am still young and beautiful, and opted to live a small part of my life just for myself. Just traveling light with no extra baggage, as I call it!
 This morning, I decide to take the road less traveled. This one in particular, is a favorite of mine. Meandering uphill to almost touch the sky, it's camouflaged by thick deodar and pine trees and lined up with bushy musk roses. The end of this winding stretch rolls down to a seemingly endless cul-de-sac, a metaphor of my own life, I feel. Every time I stroll by this route, I end up walking up right till the edge of this inestimable little road-to nowhere and spend an hour or so looking at the glowing dawn across the valley. Despite being repetitive, it is always a delightfully amazing sight every day, as the sun shears its way through the dark curtains of the night sky with a master stroke and creates a riot of colors; bold, distinct flashes of vermillion, blue, magenta and scarlet spill generously over the valley in a rich abundance.

 Not many locals from the town or the villages at the foothills come here. It's also an area where the Army has wired the territory and put up a rusty board that says, "Prohibited area. Trespassers will be prosecuted." However, no one has ever stopped me from watching the sunrise and invoking my energy and positivism from the majestic beginning of the day.
It’s late October and a little cold this morning. Usually, the wind from the north gets this chill by mid-November, but I can already feel the nip in the air as I jog through the mist along the path strewn with dried fallen leaves and early morning dewdrops. The air feels young and fresh and laced with fragrances of wild flowers. For an insomniac who has never been a “morning person”, I feel good that I have been able to discipline my wild self to come out and jog at this hour.
 As I take the last turn to my little private haven, the end of the road, I see the shadow of a man standing exactly in the same place where I am heading to be. A little upset about someone else raiding my privacy, I am also curious about my strange intruder. Who can that be? No one comes here. Maybe a young army officer who has just come to check his territorial rights! Or possibly he’s an over-enthusiastic tourist! Clearly, I am unhappy to be robbed off my little space. Anyway, as headstrong as I am, I decide to march on and find out for myself who this odd man can be.
Just when I am close enough to be heard, my intruder turns around. Draped in a thick jacket over a pair of somewhat tattered denims atypical of travelers, and armed with a camera and huge lenses, he hardly looks intimidating. Probably a lover of nature like me, who's also out here to capture the first rays of the sun across the valley, I tell myself. The stranger looks back at me with as much skepticism, I must admit. And then….time stops.
Beneath those layers of unfamiliar expressions against an unforeseen, unplanned backdrop, I see a face—yours.

For a moment, I am transported to another world, rewinding by years, through a tunnel of memories, enameled by snapshots from a celluloid dream. Frames move back into the past by years, months, weeks, and I stand numbed by the presence of the present.
You probably don't recognize me at the first glance. Time has faded out the images of a relationship that once grew around a few hundred songs and poems, everyday giggles, grins and gripe, conversations that started from the sunshine and winded up with the starlight, enough to leave behind timeless impressions; yet too little to hold back the hands of the clock. The lyrics of a long-forgotten poem, one that used to be one of our favorites, flashes on my mind…

Ek umr se hoon lazzat-e-giryaa se bhi mehruum
Aye raahat-e-jaan mujh ko rulaane ke liye aa
(Too long have I been deprived of the pathos of longing;

Come my love, if only to make me weep again)

How many times I had rehearsed this scene before! In my moments of complete isolation, where unchained thoughts overflowed beyond social prescriptions, I had imagined seeing you again and again. But right now, am faced with the biggest dilemma—should I tell you who I am or should I just turn back and walk away, and leave you to think that it is just another intruder raiding your private moments? Do I stand there transfixed and not tell you how I have missed you all my life and that my world never seemed the same after you were gone? Do I refrain from the truth that I am still hopelessly miserably in love with that memory that we called “us’”?

Pehle se maraasim na sahi phir bhi kabhi to
Rasm-o-rahe duniya hi nibhaane ke liye aa
If not for our past association
Come to fulfill the rituals of the world)

I hear myself silently reciting some of your favorite lines again. You would’ve probably hummed it out if you were in my place at this very moment. 
Don't ask me what I do next. All I can think now is a picture frame from the night that follows the dawn and the day. The fog outside my window is dense and I am home, sitting at my desk in the soft lights of a lamp, writing something. It's a poem and it's called "Akaash" (the sky), the name we had hoped we would use one day to christen our child who never saw the light of the world. He lived in our dreams while we were together and faded into our memories after we parted. And now, even that was so long ago, the memory had gathered a veil of dust.   
Yet, in another frame, I can see that the mist has cleared and a clear starlit night envelops the entire valley like a black zardosi scroll. I can also hear Louis Armstrong crooning “What a wonderful world” across my candle-lit living room. The house feels alive after a long phase of hibernation, and sitting close on a low settee, next to a huge crystal vase full of freshly-picked white lilies, I can see us singing along, talking, laughing, crying, kissing all at the same time, holding on to the moment, holding on to ‘us’, like there is no tomorrow…
 My favorite author Paulo Coelho had told me once….”Let love be the guiding light of your life”. In this timeless, placeless destination, unprepared and unarmed as we sit, I see that spark of life glowing in you, I see the stars shining in your eyes and I tell myself, how can I not fly free, high, above and beyond the limitations of lines,  when you are the wind beneath my wings?

Yes, I see that light guiding us once again and enlightened as I sit with the knowledge of the truth, I drop all my guards and admit, I have found my boundless sky, my unlimited freedom to live, love and laugh, my unconstrained luxury to be imperfect, silly or just plain stupid, my space to be myself …I have finally found our sky, our “Akaash”.


  1. It makes a very interesting read. I am sure many women will relate to it.....A writer suceeds when even an anecdotal note touches someone's heart and the reader finds his/her own presence in it. You did it Ananya......leaving you to be under or above your aakaash.... be there as you deserve it and belong to it... Jaya Sarkar


  2. Ananya, the sheer brilliance of your expression never stops amazing me!

  3. Lovely! Pristine is the word!

  4. Superb, splendid. Simply fantastic piece of writing draped with deep human emotions of relf-realisation.

  5. Touching is an understatement. Beautiful, as always.

  6. Ananya di!
    Awesome! You have this amazing potential to gracefully make the reader feel as though he/she is the protagonist of the story!! The poetic description of scenario makes it even more colorful!

    Loved the two most realist quotes in the story. "Just traveling light with no extra baggage, as I call it!"
    "A little upset about someone else raiding my privacy, I am also curious about my strange intruder. Who can that be?"
    For a split second, I was thinking "hey, didn't I feel the same way the other day!" :) with may be a similar beautiful himalayan atmostphere :), but still.....

    Hats off di..! :) Keep writing...

  7. Ananya,

    Words don't make sense when they are'nt thoughtfully put together, this piece of article is such a gem...pure brilliance of expression!! Thank you!!

  8. Fantastic. I'm just sitting here, and all I can do is mutter aloud, "Wow".

  9. I wish I had the power and ability to create a new word that would do justice to express my exact feelings about this literary gem.

    Tomar lekhar modhdhye ami khnuje pai amar ophuraan akash-ke, khnuje pai amake.Tomar, amar ei akash chnuye jaye amar mon ke, ami ujjibito hoi ei akasher sporshe.

  10. Darun...Very nice. Simply fab !

  11. Awesome read. Keep it up
    - Arghya

  12. Rhea Tathagata DasJanuary 16, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Lovely and very picturesque.....everyone can relate to such a point in their lives maybe...touching indeed!

  13. Beautiful piece-touches one irrespective of the gender.

  14. how utterly beautiful. very moving. you write so well, ananya. the choice of words, expressions, the subtle phrases, the pain, the longing is all so well brought out. way to go, lady. brilliant.

  15. Hey u r such a pet. Its perfect when its from you.................wonder if we have some past life connecton....maybe in some lifetime in past we might have been soulmates/siblings/lovers or...., you touch me with whatever you say, do or write......Your stories make me feel like they have come from my heart....I feel we have shared our skies before sometime in prev. lives....and its wonderful today when i share my thoughts with you, and you make them sound so perfect ...........angel eyes....... its what i think of you........GOd Bless.............. Neelu

  16. OMG!! I wish I could have been "you" in this story. Love it, Ananya. Truly admire the depth, the intensity and the truthfulness of the emotions. no one does justice to expressions better than you do. AKB, you still happen to be one of my all time favourite authors! Kudos!