The color of the sky, which had turned from orange to crimson some time back, is indigo now, the color of the ink I have seen my father use in his fountain pen. The ink spills, spreading across the sky, darkening it, blotting out the light, the crimson glow. The chirping of the birds is dying down, the animals cease to run, to slither. Darkness creeps up from the depths of the forest and into the sky, and my field of vision narrows, contracts, I cannot see the village now.
As the forest grows dark, a cluster of lights is seen in the shadows – they are the fireflies, shimmering, shining, blinking, moving swiftly here and there, twinkling, like the stars in the dark sky. Ah, the sky!! Dark, clear, cold, like a hole in the roof of the earth, with fireflies shining through the hole……fireflies that are the stars. I can see the Big Dipper…….
Mummy is here….giving instructions to the helpers. Papa is here….walking towards the table, the sound of his feet, crushing the gravel, reassuring. It is a familiar sound, makes me feel safe. Soon, both of them are here. They sit at the table, they have eyes only for themselves. I am too small to fall in their field of vision. They are talking to each other, and they smile in between. We all wait………….wait for the dinner to be served.
Far away, lights twinkle in the kitchen tent, where a man cooks dinner for us. Cooks it on a wooden stove, pours it in aluminum pots, and brings it out, one by one, to serve us on the table. The night grows cold, the food is hot and steaming. Dinner is served. We start to eat.
Far, far away, there is a light, a light which moves. It’s not one, its a train of lights. No, its a train! A railway line crosses the field where we sit, far away from us. The string of lights appears in the darkness, like a series of lamps, twinkling in the dark, moving. The engine blows a whistle, loud, sharp, shrill, melancholy, sad, painful, it serves as our background music every night.
As we sit, eating our dinner, watching the train whistle past us, I watch the small box placed in between us on the table. It is a radio, with a luminescent dial, and it has been set to play our weekend favorite. It’s the ‘Binaca Geetmala’ playing. Ameen Sayani’s familiar voice talks to us from the small box, and then plays our favorite songs. The voice, the music, rise in the night air, like sprites, like fairies, spinning around, lifting our spirits.
We continue to sit and enjoy our hot supper, listening to the ethereal songs…………………….
And then I woke up!!!!!!!!
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