It was a beautiful sight. White fluffy cotton streaks formed a great lane across the dark sky. Along the pathway were white dots sprinkled densely and out of nowhere, there was a purple streak and other colours which I wonder now if it was my just imagination playing riot. It is this picture I was reminded of when I saw the small crescent on the eastern sky the other day.
It was a thin arc — just visible with two bright dots nearby that twinkled like a pleasant smile. As the cool breeze hit my face, I was transported to the spot outside our little cabin somewhere in the Jungle of Africa, where we stood rooted taking in the view of the brilliant galaxy spread across the vastness.
To be honest, many times, I wonder if I did see the sky I saw many years ago on our trip to Uganda. I try to recall all the little details of what I saw, but my memory blurs in its edges and all I can recall that is closest to what I saw is the sky from my childhood.
The night sky from my childhood days was something my friends and I were in love with. The jet black vastness filled with tiny dots that sparkled through the night was filled with tales — why those dots sparkled, who lived there, what made them go up so far, did the birds live in those dots? — so many questions filled our conversations. Sometimes, we would lie on our backs to take in the view and join the dots to make funny faces.
One night, we embarked on the task of counting all of them and we always believed that there was someone out there who would have counted every single one of them simply because that person knew how to count.
It was not just the dark sky that we were in love with, we also loved the blanket blueness. I was drawn to the hues of colours that splashed at various times and I believed someone sat there painting it every now and then.
And, many days when I looked up to watch a winged creature fly across, I promised myself that I would take off some day in my adult life and reach the sky and feel the warmth of its expanse. I imagined its texture between my fingers — would it feel like cotton or sponge — I often wondered.
Over time, my love for the sky, the colour, the idea of its expanse faded into my chores. Churning out hot meals, laundry, pressing deadlines left me with no longing to take in the breadth of tranquillity that hangs above. Then, out of nowhere, life stopped me in my tracks at the beginning of this year. I paused more, I stared even longer.
I lingered along window sills to simply stare across to find the street to the emptiness and watch a bunch of birds head somewhere. And when the moon smiled at me with its dimpled cheeks, my thoughts sped through tunnels of memory. It was a sign. I looked up gratefully for all the lovely moments the sky has bestowed me with.
These past few weeks, with the Sun in its most pleasant orange hue kisses the sky, I have many conversations. These chats have stretched longer with each passing day.
The sight with fluffy cotton scattered about, just simple unhindered plain blue, the little peek from the crack of the fresh green leaflets are enough to grant me a grateful smile. Sometimes, I sit in the garden chair and arch my neck to see the pink dotted flowers spread on the vast canvas.
The silent chat is long. I breathe in to take the whole thing into my lungs and lock it up inside. I don’t want this to end. I may no longer join the dots or count those brilliant stars. But, I have begun to count those white fragrant flowers that grant me the most divine spectacle. I don’t want to stop. Turns out, I never had to stop.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman