Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunlight


What is there to say? I have new ways of looking at sunshine, I should be happy, I have been experiencing epiphanies.
There are five different kinds of sunshine, the last and most beautiful is pure epiphany.


So basically it shines on you-warm and mellow-and gradually it sparkles and dazzles until your head starts pounding with beauty. However, it's the sun-it's bound to set, and it sets. Then you walk away, down the long road which leads nowhere, because every path to knowledge is ultimately a cul-de-sac, the voice of Billie Holiday singing, "I'm a fool to want you."

I don't understand why this particular kind of sunlight is orange all over the world. In the hemonto understanding of November that I once I had, orange sunlight was a strange, melancholy sorrow when light would fall slanting, obliquely through those dazzlingly green leaves. I shall always associate it with hot,milky, gingery tea and cigarettes and the absolutely still water of the JU jheel, which would seem to be strangely animated by the sparkling, slanting light. I remember a conversation with Sunrita, "Hemonto hurts me", she said, "What is this tightening of my guts that I feel? Look at that sunlight. It speaks just one word, one idea, one thought."
"Despair?"
"No, death."

That is when I understood that for us Bengalis, there were two kinds of autumn- a happy autumn (Sarat) and a sad autumn (Hemonto). The former means carnival, worship, peace, life. The latter means orange sunlight.

This winter, in frozen crazy Oxford, I witnessed a moment of Hemonto. Now it is Basanto, but let not spring make us forget the values of autumn. Autumn, in the parlance of us literary people, is the periodic memento mori in our lives.

Cowley Road is a strange street. It is diverse, and bustling, and multicultural. It stretches on and on, but I haven't walked down it ever, to that part of Oxford. That day, I had Max's camera and I wanted to capture the sunlight before it went away, and so I walked down Cowley, but I couldn't go very far, because of the cough and it was cold. This wasn't warm sunlight, this wasn't warm...

Two men walked past me, they looked so happy. One was animated and was laughing, but a little too much-and the eyes of the other were glistening, strangely. I thought their faces were very interesting, and I wanted to speak to them. That was a very lonely period of my life, but how does one approach strangers? "Hello, I would like to find out why your eyes glisten with unshed tears?" "Hi, I like stories, and you and I-we both have stories-like everyone else in the world. Maybe we should share a few over coffee?"

But the real world is not like that. You want to help old women and carry their shopping, but they defiantly hobble on and you never ask, you want to play with little children and pull long faces at them and giggle like you're five again, but you just resolutely walk on to the library.

I pulled out the camera to capture the glistening eyes, but they moved on, and walked away in the oblique sun, and I got a picture of their fading silhouettes. I never saw them again, and would not recognize them if I did. I don't think it matters really, because the tears of the world are a constant quantity.

I hope Cowley Road is not a cul-de-sac, I would like to walk down it soon.


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