I woke up with the wind roaring in my ears. I tried to sit but I swear I couldn’t. And this was not because I wasn’t trying. Not because my body was too tired. True, my mind was still groggy but even opening my eyes was a task. When I did manage to open my eyes I shut them back immediately and my palms involuntarily started rubbing them to get the sting out. I could hear muffled speech around me and suddenly I found I could get up. I opened my eyes slowly and they didn’t sting anymore. It was pitch dark but I could make out my mother’s figure looming over me. She gave me some water and after the water cleared my head up a bit she told me that the wind was so strong that all of them were having trouble standing up against it. In my sleepy state, it would’ve been impossible. And she guessed that my eyes had been stinging and said that it was because of the wind too. The wind brought up soil and silt and gravel and slammed them in everyone’s eyes. Without thinking much I took my monkey-cap from my pocket and put it on. I tried to get up but this time it was body groaning, not the wind. I lay back down but the growling of the wind was much more muffled now, thanks to the cap.
And as I gazed into the darkness in front of me, my eyes widened to the size of saucers. The cave was a diamond mine! How could my parents not see it? The entire ceiling of the cave was studded with a million diamonds all winking at me. I would have to check this out in the morning! Morning… So it’s night now. I looked up at the ceiling above me and it was pitch black. And then my eyes widened even farther, if that was possible. I almost giggled at my own stupidity. Yep, I was definitely losing it. Diamonds indeed. Those were stars! I had not seen stars like these in a long, long time.
I lived in Mumbai, where the night life emitted as much as light as the sun did. The light pollution was devastating; to nocturnal, night-loving, moon-swooning, star-romancing creatures like me it was an absolute horror. My bed in my room was right next to the window, strategically placed for my night-time indulgences. I had spent many nights waiting for all the lights in the city to go out. It was only an hour’s time slot between 3 and 4. the night life ended at one and the goods trucks commenced their journey at 4. so that time slot was the only one with no lights, no noise, no people. No one. And in that hour I used to be awake, gazing at the stars and whispering to them. If the moon graced me with her presence, I would talk to her too. If they were too busy talking amongst them to pay any attention to a mortal like me, I would play soft songs in their honour. And always, I fell asleep under them. But that was in the city where I had to wait for the magic to begin. But here? The magic was so thickly woven that no one could escape it, even if they wanted to. Yes, the wind howled too loud. Yes, it pushed you back. But if you managed to quieten it like I did then there was nothing but you and the stars. They were beautiful, glittering across the entire expanse unfolded above me. They winked at me and were close enough for their voices to be strong. The light in the cities weakened them, they said. So their voices sounded like whispers. But here? I was much more above sea level than usual. I was closer to them. And there was no external disturbance that could weaken them. It would be dawn soon, they said, and they were the strongest now. But how, I questioned. And they whispered back a secret- we shine brightest when it is darkest, and it is darkest right before dawn. And as we shine, we welcome the dawn. Just like a little hope welcomes a lot of positivity.
Then they sang to me a lullaby that cradled me to sleep. And I slept once more.