What is the best part of the day when I’m at home in summer? As the evening approaches, the breeze becomes cooler, and aaji ( grandma) and I sit on the little veranda outside our front door. We live in a quiet residential area on the outskirts of Nasik Road, and the river Godavari is just a walk away from my house. It is a calm neighbourhood, without any major road running near by, and therefore no vehicles to pollute the air with their smoke and horns. So the as the sun is lowered down by Time, the breeze takes over and soothes the air and undoes the work done by the sun. There is a small park just opposite my house, and children begin to flock it. There is a rhythm in their clamour and noise, and it is music to my ears. I never get irritated listening to them scream and yell and laugh and cry. The birds join in and celebrate a day well lived, a day of free flying in the blue sky. There is a prayer in their chirping that thanks God for this freedom. They are never down on spirit and it feels great to hear their shrill voices announce their arrival home to their young ones and wives and neighbours. Its a friendly banter, like old timers that slap each others’ backs when they meet in the tavern after a hard day’s work. The dust is now settling down.
Aaji and I just sit there, soaking it all in. There are not many words that find their way out of our mouths, but then again, no words need be spoken. She knows every beat that thumps in my heart and doesn’t care for any words. It’s a divine comfort I share with her, a warmth that no blanket can ever provide, no matter how much money I spend. We just sit there, the breeze playing with her thinning hair and making her blink her eyes. She occasionally laughs, a pure hearty laugh at some snotty little kid who probably got spanked by his elder sister or a bully and started wailing. She finds it funny the way it all unfolds in the park, and is just amused by the innocence of it all. Old age is but another childhood, and I’m its eyewitness.
The sun paints the horizon with colours only Caravaggio could imagine. But then again, Caravaggio probably got his imagination looking at magnificent sunsets and sunrises. The bright yellow gives way to a much more soothing golden hue, and the horizon gradually turns orange and saffron. The clouds wistfully wrap any colour the sun throws at them, as if they were models in a Paris fashion show, eager to flaunt the latest haute couture. The orange and saffron then turn into violet and blue, and darkness begins to announce its opening act. The violet is stunning, and the sun uses it as a final flourish of a tenor or a master composer, who wants to mesmerise the audience a final time before he takes a bow. The dust has settled, the air has surrendered to coolness the westerly breeze brings with it, and the children in the park are oblivious to this, merrily tumbling over each other on the soft grass that protects them from hurting themselves.
The sun sets, but not before letting a few of the daredevil stars take a peek at the world from the wings of the cosmic stage. The sun indulges them like the director of a children’s play, the main actors of which are too eager to come out on stage and enthrall the audience. It sets and leaves the world with another shade of blue, and it feels like royalty. The birds have fallen silent, exhausted from the days flight and the merriment of the evening. The more obedient of the kids have called it a day and are heading back home, but the more audacious of them stay back, happy to have the swings and the slides to themselves. They know that in a while, someone from their homes will come and drag them back. If it’s their day, it’ll be their elder brothers or sisters, or if it’s really a bad day, it’ll be their mother or in the worst case, their dad. And then, God help them. Aaji again lets out a hearty laugh as they get a hard rap on their bums or backs, a punishment for disobedience. She slowly holds on to the railing, gets up and turns towards the door.
Its time to go inside.