The moon and the stars; the breeze and the celestial bodies living in the yonder vast expanse and also the all-permeating stillness of the vast space beyond the stellar constellations saw us ushering in a change in the numerals which describe what we call another year by our reckoning. I was there on that day in a crowded market place full of revelers and merry makers. All of a sudden in that crowd I came across a very familiar face.
It was the same face that I had quite often and unsuccessfully wanted to avoid in that market place and also wherever I had found myself seeking some solitude in this vast, monotonous, senseless multitude of faces and limbs. The same imploring, beseeching expression in those eyes, the same unkempt disheveled hair and the same rough weather beaten palms with outstretched rickety fingers and the same helplessness of the same soul in the same body! I felt as if riveted to the ground under my feet.
Who was he? Was he a relic of the past or the shadow of the future?
Space beyond him and within him, and the space engulfing both of us remained still as he tried to make movements, which would lead him nowhere. And my thoughts seem to melt away silently in search of words, which could have infused life into them. The stars went in a tizzy and the clouds came to shield the moon from him. And me, where was I amongst that tumultuous multitude?
I found myself gazing at those rugged palms and seemingly lost in a maze of deep lines etched on them. Those lines looked like deep furrows left by a farmer’s plough in preparation for sowing the seeds of a new crop. They could also have been the marks left behind by the caravans that keep on emerging endlessly from beyond the confines of faraway horizon only to disperse away into a realm of some nebulous destinations.
I stood motionless, words deserted me and secretly I rued the earlier attempts at avoiding him. Even as the people all around us moved and gyrated in a frenzied ecstasy, I stood still trying to imbibe some hope and some yearning from him. The stillness of that moment transgressed the boundaries of being, stretched across the confines of horizon and engulfed the entire infinite eternity.
By then the crowd had started dissipating. Leaving behind a trail all that feverish frenzy did that multitude of faces and limbs go on further in search of a new meaning or a new word? In that now deserted market place a lonely blade of grass struggled to emerge out from beneath a heavy stone, a lonely bud on that faraway shoot of the tree opened to the skies and a whiff of breeze appeared hand in hand with the clouds. They brought for me the songs of a being that never moves and is never static and the hymn that never begins and never ends. They brought for me the reminiscences which are never new and which never grew old.
Where did the New Year begin? When did the New Year begin?
And how about that person with a familiar face whom I just came across in that crowd?
Another day had dawned and the evanescent dewdrops on that grass blade told me that he too had moved on. Another year had begun and I also just moved on.