Sometimes all you need is a breather

The double whammy, of a surprise American poll verdict and a stunning currency coup in India turned sanity on its head for most people I knew.

By Asha Iyer Kumar

Published: Mon 21 Nov 2016, 7:32 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Nov 2016, 9:34 PM

These haven't been particularly joyful times, in general. Even as shadows of a personal loss became a constant backdrop to my daily life, a couple of things that happened in a couple of countries away from here added to the overall gloom in the air. The double whammy, of a surprise American poll verdict and a stunning currency coup in India turned sanity on its head for most people I knew. It was hard to ascertain if one was more disappointed at Trump's victory or Clinton's defeat. One did not know if rendering notes illegal overnight would unhinge the corrupt or exasperate the common man more. Like in all other things in life, even a well-deliberated response to the situations sounded ambivalent, lurching between hope and despair.
Some frustrations are unspecified. They simply roll and rumble in the system, waiting to be retched. And public resentment, like the one over the election results or currency quandary, is instantly heaved on to media platforms, where other nauseated chatterati joins the jamboree. It is not possible to escape the toxic fumes of bitterness and negativity unless one snaps out of it willingly and pretends to belong to an entirely different planet where life runs on a different set of parameters. That's when one dumps all the gizmos that purvey despair and takes a long walk to watch a yellow moon looming large at the horizon.
That's when life enters the phase of 'suspended disbelief' and is reborn. It opens its eyes into the golden twilight and crosses over from the gross to the subtle, and in the crossing, we discover life's secret and sublime delights. It happened a week ago with me when the supermoon rose to the exclusive amusement of the dreamy-eyed. I say 'exclusive amusement' because to a majority, it was anything but romantic. A spectacle from light years away has little bearing on the everyday strife and what's a moon sighting, after all? It wasn't anything to gaga over, especially when there were other battles to fight - queues at the bank to beat, a new president to deal with, domestic difficulties to resolve, soot-infested outdoors to combat, tangled relationships to sort out, social inequities to bulldoze, children's competitive exams, jobs to safeguard, pride to protect.
How amidst this vexing racket of life can one chuck the care and walk out to watch a glorified celestial sight and pretend as if 'all is well?' Because, all is not well, by Jove, all is not well, you aver.
It's like this. When the impulse to gripe and bicker with life grows, take a detour. Leave the baggage behind and plan a sojourn. Like I did last week, despite matters that are presently weighing me down. It was like going on a blind date, not knowing what to expect and returning with prized moments that will go down with me to eternity.
Sighting the demure, orange orb at the horizon, a tad above the distant buildings was like seeing divinity in all its sublime grandeur. As hyperbolic as it may sound, it was the closest I had come to experiencing the physical presence of the higher power, and I still recall the feeling of awe and exhilaration that seized me as I drew the attention of the few people present in the quiet vicinity.
After a few quick clicks of the drop-dead gorgeous moon in my camera, I sat transfixed by the creek, watching the diva from heaven sashay up the sky. Random lines of poetry begged to be written in praise of the moment; a shoal of fish traversed to and fro and leaped in gay abandon in the silver streak that fell across the creek and the sun bowed out ceremoniously on the other side. Amidst the moon and the cavorting fish, amidst the poetry in my head and a song on my lips, I saw a grey evening turn into a luminous night. Life had slipped into an idyllic state, to the exclusion of its nagging ingredients.
More than a week later, I still feel the silence and peace that serenaded that demure darkness. The demons of sentient existence and all the noise of city had been made to stand out of that surreal air. Here was escape, albeit transitory. Here was heaven, albeit temporal. Here was love, albeit veiled. Here was life, albeit illusionary.
When I exited the chimerical zone that night, nothing had changed outside. The world was still frustrated, people still fretted and fought, the news was still fraught with pessimism, personal grief still lingered and domestic problems waited to be resolved, but a voice inside sang an old Beatles song, "Let it be, let it be, let it be."
- Asha Iyer Kumar is a Dubai-based writer

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