02 September 2012

Twenty Minutes to Sun Rise

The first time I saw Athirapally water falls, the sequence unfolded in surreal fashion. Walking down the wooden pathway that rises steady and then comes to steep downward slope, the trees surrounding the pathway suddenly parted, bringing into view the entire panoramic shot of the waterfall leaping off the cliffs. As though nature had invited me to walk through the tunnel and into its version of a hallowed football stadium. The sound of water rushing over rocks rumbled across the air, non chalantly assuming the duty of providing a sound track for my moment of epiphany.

A note to my self. Until now, I've imagined that key moments in life appear with startling abruptness, like the impact of a phrase carefully uttered to conclusively end an argument. Perhaps the cartoonish idea of a light bulb switching on, the sequence of Archimedes crying out 'Eureka' after his discovery, left me half expecting to cry out any moment, prepared to experience the life altering message that the breeze around me seemed to be armed with.

Instead its like the twenty minutes before sun rise. Just as light slowly creeps across the skies, a miniature idea enters the mind, almost indistinguishable from its surrounding darkness. And within minutes, we crane our necks, surprised at how the night sky has been consumed by that light, until every inch of the canvass has been painted gold. It becomes a unanimous and over powering thought, one that you know will never leave your mind without being satiated first.

In those precious few minutes, I realized what I'd been missing out on for so long. Having spent enough time, willingly or otherwise, in classrooms equipped with white boards, libraries and Google Image Search, I knew all about nature. About thunder and lightning, pouring rains and searing mirages, snow filled mountains in peaceful cohabitation with parched deserts. Yet I had never felt any of it. Amongst the innumerable methods of documentation available today, I'd allowed the DSLR cameras and fiber optic cables to deprive me of the nuances involved. I could find out the depth, height, ferocity and total quantity of water falling in Athirapally, yet inhaling the moist, thick aroma prepared with the help of damp soil and a smattering of fresh green leaves, that would be beyond me, it seemed.

I knew everything, yet felt nothing.

My parents usually had to drag me to attend parties at neighbours houses. And even if their endevour succeeded, it was only partial, for like any shy, self conscious little boy, I'd restrict myself to a particular room of the neighbour's house, most likely the first one I step into. And several times, my relatives and friends, laughing and cheerful, would stream into the room, talking about the latest merriment occuring in the kitchen, or enviously describing the elegance of the rooms upstairs.

I'd go home, having remained ever faithful to that one room, till back home my parents would ask, didnt you see the rest of the house? This room? Or that? And to my quiet, shameful nods they'd grimace and say, what a waste. You had all the time in the world and yet you stuck to your seat.

I'm not prepared to nod shameful anymore. Not when I have an entire house to see, one whose rooms have water falls and valleys, towering wind mills in expansive fields, mountain tops built as terraces for the world. No longer do I want to hear second hand accounts from friends and relatives.

Instead, I'm looking forward to it all. To having my skin sun burnt and frost bitten, soaked through and parched dry, tanned to every shade possible, shrivelled from lack of food and swollen from too much of it. But above all, I'm waiting for my skin to feel, all that my eyes have seen and ears have heard.

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