Dubai Diaries: Musing on a sunset
There are scenes in nature which always leave you mesmerised.
Recently while in a reflective and sombre mood, I had the good fortune to witness a beautiful sunset at the beach. As I opened my phone camera and attempted to capture those mesmerizing hues of orange, mauve and gold that flecked the evening sky, the sight left me at a loss for words; I couldn’t think of a more enchanting or well-timed spectacle for my current frame of mind. It’s the kind of scene that is both joyous and poignant, both poetic and stark. You want to immediately pick up your pen or your paintbrush and do justice to this incredible tour de force of nature, yet you know you will never be able to truly capture its essence, which can only be felt with the heart. Thoughts of times spent with loved ones and other pleasant memories passed through my mind as I watched the majestic sun sink gradually into a dull gold sea. I thought about how nature’s wonders, serene and timeless, tend to evoke nostalgia; you associate them with moments from the past, they leave you fulfilled, and yet with a sense of longing for something inexplicable. It’s one of those ethereal aspects of life that brush past us once in a blue moon.
As I juggled myriad emotions while taking in the scene, I realized a sunset is an experience that has never failed to leave me in awe. I remember as a child how I’d watch the sun, that great big ball of fire as I’d liked to call it, disappear into the ground, or the water — depending on where I was — and cross-question my parents as to its whereabouts. I was too young for overtly scientific explanations then, so they would weave a story around the daily phenomenon, telling me that the sun like the rest of us had to go to bed for the night, and would reappear the next day. “But where does it go to sleep” I would persist and be satisfied with the answer (as they exchanged smiles) — “a magical place”. Serious discussions with my younger brother would ensue back home, as we pondered on the possible wonders that “magical place” held. A gigantic, fire-breathing dragon, perhaps? Some other mystical creature that had the sun as a friend?
Even as I grew older and studied astronomy at school, expanding my knowledge of our solar system and beyond, I continued to be mesmerized by sunsets though now there was a scientific and plausible explanation as to why the sun disappeared every evening. Some days when I’m particularly low — like that day on the beach — I like to ditch science for enchantment and go back to my parents’ imaginative explanation of a sunset to a couple of inquisitive kids. I let myself be dazzled by that gold and orange sky, by that great big ball of fire settling into its “magical place” for the night. Because we all could use a little bit of magic in our lives right now.