Night falls early here.
Sorry, that statement came out all wrong. What I mean to say is that, India follows a single time, the Indian Standard Time, and like most people, I too never gave the matter a half second’s thought till the move from the West to the East of the country.
Now it is a different matter altogether. My office follows a 9.30 to 5.30 (IST) schedule since it has to synchronise with the rest- the problem is that 5.30 pm is perhaps 6.30 pm local/ actual time and even in summer, it is almost dark by the time I actually get to leave office. In the depths of winter, it is pitch dark by 5.45 pm or so.
The net result is that I never get to see sunsets – except on weekends!
I leave in the morning to what is almost a blazing noonday sun, while the clock shows 9.30 am.
What I get instead are stars! And if I’m especially lucky, fireflies.
And the night music of crickets. And sometimes the ear splitting screech of cicadas high up in the trees. (The first time I heard the cicada, I genuinely thought someone was sawing wood! )
And a sky full of bats, wheeling, milling, jostling each other and, rarely nowadays, owls hunting their dinner.
And the poignantly sweet perfume of the Parijata flowers .
Tripura’s landscape is one of ups and downs- Tillas and Loongas- the result of some long past tectonic shifting, perhaps. A rather large playground exists right below the Kendriya Vidyalaya school- it is a Loonga; almost like a broken upturned bowl.
I am not a religious person; but on some evenings, when the sky and air are especially clear, sitting on the cement steps in that hollow, with the star studded sky curving overhead and soft darkness enveloping me and my young son (he and I are companions on such journeys), Rabindra Sangeet playing from a long distance away, making me feel unaccountably sad, I feel humbled before the beauty and majesty of the universe.
A still and sweet peace steals into my heart.
We walk home- sometimes holding hands, mostly not- he is twelve now and it does not befit one of his position to be seen holding Mummy’s hand!