‘Raabta’ with Naukuchiataal – IV

‘Spicy Tomato’, the pack of chips read, as I extracted a couple from the bag, put them in my mouth, and closed my eyes, enjoying the spicy crunchiness. The laptop lay open in front of me, the cursor blipped expectantly, the keyboard lighted, waiting….

I warmed my hands with the cup of tea which Vaishali had just handed to me; it was getting colder by the minute. I checked the temperature outside on my phone – 12 degrees Celsius, it said. That was cold enough for me. Though it was getting uncomfortably cold, but I still waited, and I continued to sit outside, looking at the hills stretched out in front of me. The tea continued to warm my fingers, the cursor on my computer’s screen continued to blip. We were all waiting. Waiting for the song to begin…….

Mist and smoke. Mist from the skies, and smoke from the chimneys, and household hearths. One was descending, the other ascending. They met in the skies, in the distance, and created that pall, that curtain, which was necessary to shield the mundane, hide the ordinary, so that the extraordinary could be seen. The sun has paused at the peak of a mountain just across from where I sit on the balcony. A light indigo color spreads in the sky from the east, chasing the orange that fills the sky in the west. 

I am tired, my body sore from the journey, from age, from disease. My neck hurts, my knees hurt, my back hurts, my heart is heavy – as are my lids! I am cold, but I will not move, I will not leave this place, unless I hear that voice. 

‘Listen’, the mountain said. ‘Listen carefully. Focus.’

The sun is gone now, and the darkness grow. The face of the mountain lights up with a million eyes, which twinkle and shine. The mountain and the valleys are alive now; alive with a vitality that is beyond that of human origin.

‘Listen,’ it says again, and I obey, meekly, my head is bowed now; we are talking, finally. 

A dog barks in the distance. A bee buzzes past me. A cuckoo is singing somewhere, some thrushes, a pigeon…I can see them in my mind’s eye. Now, as the mountain starts to sing its ancient song, I can see more with my eyes closed than any human has seen with open eyes. The song is old as the earth, probably older still. It is primal, yet nascent. Always old, always new. The mountain sings through the trees which sway in the night wind, through the leaves that rustle in the woods, the scurry of small feet which I can hear from the nearby brushes. The song is composed of the buzz of insects, the flapping sounds made by the wings of butterflies. You say you can’t hear a butterfly’s wings flap? You have not heard the mountain yet. 

You cannot hear it if the mountain chooses not to speak to you. You have to be ‘chosen’. You cannot impose your will on the mountains. The mountains do not obey man’s commands, man obeys theirs. 

‘Listen’, it says again, its voice deep, resonant, reverberating, shaking my very innards. 

I am all ears – I hear the gentle upward and downward swing of the water in the lake, the gentle movement of the crust of the earth, as the mountains breathe. Yes, it is possible to hear nature move, speak, breathe……. One just needs to close one’s eyes, and LISTEN. 

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