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While one works in a company, especially in emerging / emergent variety as in India, the word vacation is absent – what one says is “leave”. I had worked almost a decade in the world of leave where no one went for “vacation”.Children grew up, started going to school and I had combined their “summer vacation” with mine and this time, like last ten years, left a Calcutta of excruciating heat to come to my ancestral home in Silchar, the climate of which was described by my 6 year old son as : “naturally air-conditioned”.
Reading Pascal at an early age and in the same house where I am writing this now, I felt a great attraction for reflection, solitude and that feeling of “immortality” when you lie down in a bed, look at the sky, read a book and feel that suffocating joy that there is no one (wife and children at in-laws) and the room expands – in space-time. Time appears to have stopped except when the shadows change or a bird chirps. The charm of a reflective and quiet life is something so valuable for someone with a certain temperament that this itself becomes an end rather than a means. “Ja labdha chaparang labdha manyate nadhikong tata” [ Having which one does not aspire for something higher”]
All seekers of spiritual perfection, mystical insights, yogic powers in some time or other retire from the din and bustle and go to an environment of solitude. The idea is either to examine one’s inner world closely or shutting the inner chattering and concentrating on something else : a mantra, an image, some light at the center of the forehead and so on. The solitude and reflection I am referring here is not the latter type. There is nothing to aspire here, nothing to achieve but just making the best out of the best companion : solitude.
Being a resident alien of Calcutta for almost 10 years, I can attest to the fact that the most scarce thing is solitude. I have never slept in any house in Calcutta’s four corners which was completely silent in a sense that you feel that massed silence in your ears. Nor a room which was completely dark – street lamp, light from the neighbour, a car headlight, light from an under-construction multiplex. This may be the reason why all residents of a metropolitan are mad to escape to some “holiday destinations” as soon as some long weekend presents itself. They tell this change but it appears to me their soul’s push for its food – solitude and be with oneself but most are unconscious of it and they all return with tiredness, selfies and the change with tiredness “seem” refreshing and the wait starts for the next trip.
Tree-house / Chalet / Watchtower
I was a guest at the long time wordsmith associate and contributor Mr. Arijit Sinha alias Vicky. He has built this Watchtower / Chalet / Tree-house at his backyard – 60 sqft. house in air overlooking Silchar Jail’s lush green compound. The watchtower sits at one of the most expensive real estates in the town ( USD 50 / sq ft) and it was a great delight to watch the sunset
I and Vicky – the owner-designer-architect sat for sometime in the tower with an overcast sky and was relishing the green.
The Riverside Walk
The second largest river of North East – the Barak which is some 3 min walking distance from the Heritage House is a sight in the rains. The river which was like a diet-restricted model now swelled into a fearsome but enticing voluptuousness and rains in the mountains gave her water a colour of coffee and speed of a gazelle.
My skin has her taste since I was around ten years old. In the winter, the river becomes narrow and slim with a silver shine but now under an overcast sky and trees just kissing the water, she is sweeping past – not a single boat and in a single minded focus, the river runs past, ignoring me – the past suitor, now a balding old man.
A flowing river is the personification of Time flowing past. I remember reading Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s immortal work where he describes the friendship between Indranath and the narrator Srikanta and there in one of their nocturnal adventures, they go for stealing fish while they descend into their small dinghy in a dark night by holding onto something he knew not. I had rowed and punted in the river and any tree touching the water reminded me of Indranath and the narrator and their adventures. There is a touch of poetry in that description when two teen age boys, under the dark skies of Bengal watch the majesty and the grave darkness of Mother Nature and as they jump into their dinghy in a full bodied Ganges in the rainy reasons, the dinghy : “নৌকা নক্ষত্রবেগে ভাসিয়া চলিল”। [ The small dinghy started moving like a shooting star]
Our lives are also like shooting stars in the vastness of space and immensity of time. Each one of us. In our youth, we feel this more and as we grow we become “busy”, we slowly harden and lose our shine and sooner or later we crash onto the ground.
A Life of reflection, a great companionship with oneself, enjoyment from one’s own inner self – আত্বরতি – this can always keep us like a shooting star – blazing the trails and if not in body, at least in spirit.
The Riverside walk gave me great wisdom – the wisdom of remaining like a shooting star in spirit – always.