Thursday, July 31, 2008
Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again
Its 1:00 am. I’m back from work. After a long time, I had a very busy day. There’s a power cut here and my inverter’s run out of battery. But thanks to my Fn Page Up key that flashes a tiny lamp on my keyboard, I’m able to write.
It’s dark… and still outside. All I can hear is generator rumbling at a distance. And strangely enough, the only other sound I can hear is the clock ticking in my room. The clock was a present for my sister on her 10th birthday. 18 years back. Buddy just let out a bark, momentarily breaking the silence permitted by the seconds hand. A whiney bark.
The world’s gotten big, and I can feel an increasing inconsequentiality about the night time.
When I was very young, in Srinagar, after 7 p.m all lights were out. Our world fell asleep and the next sign of any activity was only 9 hours from then, when the army PT would start, soon followed by the bands.
It didn’t change much as I grew older, and we moved to Delhi. The only difference being, in the plains, night fell at 10 pm. But after that, there was no reason any rational being would stay awake. Or if awake, engage in anything productive. My sister and I would play word games for that was all we could do as the darkness rendered us incapable of anything else. There was game where we’d compete on who knew more words ending in –ion. There was another one where I would try to guess my sisters’ friends names. If I insisted on playing these verbal games too long, she would scare me with stories about black cats and 100-days movie cassettes. It was time to rest. All contact was broken for the next 8 hours as the world around me retreated into deep sleep.
By the time I was in high school, and then college, night was 10 p.m, but we pushed the limit to a little later. Actually significantly later. Who am I kidding? I’ve stayed up, studying till 4 am on more occasions than I remember. I’ve had to jump across the wall to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes that accidentally fell out of my window into the neighbour’s garden (Was I scared! I was on the phone with the good friend, and I hung up in panic, and jumped across the wall). But it was still night. There was a reason the time between 10 pm and 4 am was reserved for studying the Marshall-Hicks theorem, practicing and eventually perfecting the art of smoking and long, endless pillow conversations - this was when I was alone. Everyone around me slept. There was no connectivity and again, no rational being had a reason to stay awake. I, of course, did. As did the other end of the phone. And no one to disturb the story.
At business school, the earth spun around its axis and my timing was now in sync with the other end of the world. Only, there was no connection between these two ends of the world for me. You enter business school raw, play a freak for 2 years, and exit polished. I wonder how that happens. Day was now night. I stayed up all night, ‘breakfast’ at 8 p.m., Chai at 2 a.m., Maggi an hour later, turned in at 5 a.m, slept through the day, even during class, and would finally wake up by 6 p.m. A shower would break me out of the lethargy, and several different songs, playing loudly from rooms across the wing, marked the beginning of the productive day. There was always the occasional nerd (Well honestly…we were all nerds) that continued his primitive ways and would be up all afternoon, cramming for a quiz 3 days from then. He was nearly done with his day as he had been up since 6 a.m. Can you imagine?
It was a brief interlude, for when I started work in Singapore, the clock turned back. Night was the old night. Like 11:00 p.m. Only it was two hours ahead of the rest of my world. It didn’t matter much.
It’s different now. I’m back from work at 1 a.m, and as I switch on my computer, I have my friends messaging me on IM. They’re just starting their day on the West Coast, while the Londoners are wondering if they will be able to leave work in time to get beer at a bar closeby. My world, scattered all over the place, is not asleep. Its superficial to sing songs about lonely nights. I’m not alone at this hour. Every hour, for the next 7 hours, I will receive at least 2 messages from my friends who will be cracking through their days in Chicago, or returning from their morning workout in Australia. And of course, the boys in Delhi, who’re still at work, crunching on a PE case (yes, the team I was with before), and will sleep only a few hours before the sun rises. I often get up in the middle of the night, and pick up these messages. So when I wake up the next morning, I’m still connected. I get the morning news in my mailbox before the newspaper boy arrives. I have gossip about the happenings in New York before day breaks in Delhi. There’s been no break from the world. Its a continuum.
The aloneness of the night no longer remains.
I think I want to return to a slightly less connected world. I’m not anti the advances in telecommunications or the invasion of the blackberry. I just want to reserve my night. For great writers, un-related thoughts, special people. And imagine the rest of the world is asleep. And the night belongs to me.
The music: the sounds of silence, among other songs by S&G
Pth: The music now: One..two…three…. , the ballad from the movie by the same name