Saturday, May 06, 2006


Blackout took the neighborhood a little after midnight. All electrical noises silenced at once. Once the momentary confusion subsides, and the eyes and ears get accustomed to the night, the mind begins to see, feel and sense things that are ordinarily overlapped by coarser ones.

First to be felt is silence. Gradually you begin to hear the gurgling of insects, the occasional name calling of house lizards, the flapping of wings of little bats and the squeaking of rodents. Add to that the monotonous tingling of a wind chime in one of the balconies up front; you’ll never know which one. At first they all seem random but slowly a pattern begins to emerge and they all fade into the background.

I can’t see the moon but there is moonlight. You can make out the outlines of trees, lampposts, telephone wires and TV cables silhouetted against the grayish forms of the buildings where people have retired for the night. There is no light in the windows to distort the landscape. The black of the night, the silver of the moon, the faint blue of the sky came together to form the perfect shades for the forms you see and the patterns in your thoughts.

A gust of wind makes its way from the direction of the road to the west. You can hear it coming through the alley moving dirt, dust and debris on its way. You can hear it come through the iron gates and flooding the walkways. The trees suddenly wake up and greet the wind. Some of the older leaves let go of the branches they clung onto for so long and goes with the wind. The younger leaves wave them goodbye. No tears shed, no long faces, no regrets. The wind moves to the east.

Silence fell for one brief moment before its broken by the sound of footprints. They are followed by the booming voice of the night watchman at the east gate – “ANYBODY THERE?”. “I AM HERE” – came the response from the west gate. Not annoying whistles, not scratching noise in electronic devices, not clang of metal on metal but human voices speaking words, communicating with and reassuring one another and many others fast asleep, wide awake or in a state in between.

May be this is an event of no consequence. Or may be these voices have just created a ripple in the night air and the wind will carry it away on her journey. May be, years later, in a different place, someone will stand under the night sky and lend his ears to the west wind. May be, just may be, if he listens for long enough, he will hear the voices calling; reassuring each other and myriad others.

You hear footsteps on the walkway that never bears footprints. You look towards the westward sky to look for your stars. A whisper is heard – “ANYBOY THERE?”

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