I check my mobile – it is twelve in the midnight. We are observing a power cut for close to three hours now. A near pin drop silence, barring some clanging sounds of iron gates and occasional shrilling of babies finding this humid air-less night hard to endure. There is a ubiquitous awareness of tonight being longer than all the previous. The familial troops are treading to the terrace loaded with their “pillow-blanket” ammunition to wage a sweaty and cumbrous war with the darkness. It is absolute pleasure to look at tree branches occasionally swinging to tunes of the subtle wind. There are torch bearers, often waving at the neighborhood homes as if to find something out of the blue to search an answer for this pitch-dark night. The telephone lines to the local E.B (Electricity Board) office will receive the highest traffic. Cleverly enough, the situation is averted by the officials who choose to either not attend or misplace the receiver to avoid the repeated queries. This night, reaching line-men is reaching god.
I pace myself towards our rarely visited patio. I carry two mats, a bed-sheet to spread out on the mats, and four pillows – one each for mother, father, dear brother and I. We waste no time in occupying one side of the terrace, where the other portion houses a few row of sand bags on which we tend to grow some tomatoes, spinach and curry leaves. The productivity is near negligible now but shall hopefully lead to a fruitful emergence very soon. Tonight is devoid of any electronic devices – fan, light, air conditioner – barring the mobile phones, though without any internet connection. Yet, the set up is glorious. It is simple and elegant. The claver starts spontaneously. We discuss about the sprawling and picturesque skies with sparkling stars and layered clouds, and the topic drifts to music. I play some retro songs to my brother’s request. The list includes vocals of evergreen stars SPB, Janaki, Chithra, Malaysia Vasudevan among other prominent singers. Inji Iduppazhagi from Devar Magan, a classic Ilaiyaraja-Kamal combo is followed by more melodies from the maestro’s super hit albums. The list also includes numbers from 16 Vayadhiniley, Kadalora Kavidhaigal, Kizhakku Vasal, Aboorva Sagodharargal and Amman Koil Kizhakaale. The songs stand testimony to the sheer genius of our revered musician. An hour passes with these lullabies, and yet, sleep is still far from our reach. My brother and I decide to rake in this moment and take a leisurely stroll. Our discussions are about the science behind and different types of lightning, and the formation of stars. By now mom and dad are fast asleep. I should admit sympathizing with them, their posture indicates extreme tiredness. It is a gentle reminder that age is fast catching up. Also, my brother decides to try and sleep before he gets up early in the morning to study for his semester exams.
At last, I am in solitude. I am alone, I feel liberated and free. I sense nostalgia. I feel like I own the world. The reasons seem clouded. I fail to define this sensation either. I try to discover what it is, only it is of no use. I settle to ascertain. I am sure, pen and paper will answer my incertitude. Hence here I am forthwith – flashlight enabled mobile phone neatly mounted on a water bottle, acting as substitute for a torch, a piece of ruled paper and a red ink ball point pen – conceiving what to come up with. I am pondering where to start, it is blank.
It is a peaceful night and I do not know what to write…