It is December. The last month of the year. Another year has gone by... and it is time to do the 'bahi khaata'
This year was one of incredible sadness.
Growing older, people around - growing older still. And then some bid me good bye.
No amount of understanding life and the concept of death as an absolute certainty , can prepare you for the moment, when it strikes closer home and takes away a loved one. Here now ...Gone now....it leaves you shaken.
I used to think that with age comes wisdom which helps one deal with bereavement.
I forgot that years of association brings in that much more attachment....attachment that is so so difficult to handle when the person is no more.
The memories, the grieving, nothing helps. The loss simply hurts.
Each New Year's eve, a friend of mine tries to coax me into accompanying her to the Juhu Beach, to watch the last sunset of the year. I find the thought very very dismal. akin to pulling down the curtains, signifying an end..
"How about witnessing the first sunrise of the new year," , I asked of her once...
"Chhee.. savere kaun uthega" she retorted, condescendingly.
The thought however made residence in my mind , in my heart.. But where , in this concrete jungle of Mumbai would I be able to have an early morning date with the rising sun ? That was the question !
Sometime in 2013, The Bombay Natural History Society once put up an announcement for a Bird watching meet at the Sewri mudflats to greet the migratory Flamingos . I was interested. Could not join that group, so I spoke to a friend. He gave me directions to the place as well as a tip, "Flamingos ke saath Sunrise free, if you reach there at the magical hour"
Phir kya !! there was nothing to stop me. The husband was easily cajoled and we started out in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Sewree Phatak, Sewree Jetty... it took us a while to find our way there and by the time we reached, the sun had risen in the dark blue sky.
I had dreamt of seeing the first light rays of the day spread across the sky....but beggars couldn't be choosers. Plus the hundreds of flamingos made the trip worth every second of the sleep we had foregone.
The son, at that time, was a student in Goa. When he arrived home on a break, we carted him to Sewree. Once again, on a Sunday morning And this is what we got...
After these two incidents, the husband started acting pricey putting an end to my early morning jaunts to the mudflats.
But he is a sentimental bloke. This year he succumbed to my entreaties....... "Sunrise on a New Year's Day...Please, please.!!"
On the 1st of Jan 2015, the sunrise was scheduled for 7.15 am. Suited me fine. Could snatch a couple of more seconds in bed.
That morning as we started for Sewree, the sky was already lit . It was a foggy smoggy daybreak, dull gray skies. When we reached there, it was high tide.. it meant there would be no flamingoes. But today it was a date with the Sun, so I wasn't unduly disappointed.
The Sewrie Jetty usually has about 2 or 3 vessels anchored on each side. The staff doing there chores. The air smelling of oxidising metal and oil... not very pleasant. But a few seconds and everything else phased out. The high tide , meant a full sea. Brimming with water... it gently lapped at the concrete edges of the jetty... thap thap thap... the rhythm was soothing, calming. The sky was gray with not even a cloud to add a bit of colour. The water reflected the same bleakness.
I got out of the car, camera in hand and walked towards the solitary stone bench there. The husband was directed to a spot, a little away, to park the car.
And in a span of those few seconds. there rose a ribbon of golden shimmer on the sea. Dull gold, which soon went on to don a sparkling shimmery hue. Yes.. the sun had deigned it convenient to peek from behind a cloud. The smog had parted.
The game of peek-a-boo continued... Now I see him , now I don't.
But I was easily pleased. So what if it was 8.00 am. So what if the sun was a couple of feet up on the horizon.
It was New Year's Day. and I had kept my date with the SUN.
The daughter came into the room excitedly and latched on to the
computer, looking for a song on you tube. She called.out to me., " I
found it... I heard a song today. Found it on you tube..Listen to this,
", she said.
and as the song started playing, a smile spread on my face.
the song? The Little Drummer Boy. My girl had discovered this song only now. .
I remember I was in class 2. about 7 years old. The school was to close
for Christmas and just before the holidays began, there was a programme
in school . Our class was to put up an act. A classmate was to play
Joseph and a close friend of mine, Reshma, was to play Mother Mary. She
had to cradle baby Jesus in her arms. The song to be enacted... Yess...
The little Drummer Boy
The teacher had asked the class, "Does anybody have a doll? Can you bring it on the day of the performance."
An eager me had shot up her arm. "i have one, I will get it." My dear
neighbour, Aai, had gifted me one, just a couple of weeks ago. The doll,
as all dolls are , was a pretty face, shoulder length brown hair, light
blue eyes..and she was made of rubber, yielding a loud squeak when
pressed. She wore a bright yellow blouse and a bright pink floor length
skirt. She also carried a wicker basket full of flowers in her left
hand. I called her Goldilocks..
When I came home and told this to
Aaai, she retorted, "बाहुली तुझी ना, मग तू ' मदर मेरी' होणार म्हणून
सांग . नाहीतर बाहुली देणार नाही , अस सांगून ये. "
My parents , my father mostly, backed me and he packed the doll in a brown paper sheet for me to take to school.
I handed the doll over to my class teacher.
. That afternoon, as i stood on the stage, behind Mother Mary and
Joseph...along with my other classmates. , all a part of a group ,
singing the Little Drummer Boy, my eyes were transfixed on my dolly ,
bundled in lace, secure in the arms of my friend. A little bit of
sadness, a little bit of happiness .. my feelings then.
Pa rum pa
pum pum. Rup a pum pum ..rup a pum pummm... the chorus still rings
clear in my ears. but it is only happiness i feel now at the thought of
this old old memory.
It was Christmas then, It is Christmas today..... I wish all my friends a Merry Christmas
Stories need to be told....Stories need to be shared... lest they are
all forgotten - a lesson i learn in my mythology class. I just needed
one more reason to share one more memory,