Friday, October 8, 2010 5:12 am
A peacock’s tuneful call woke me on my first morning back in India. More than a week has gone by before the beauty and the meaning of this finally came clear.
In Babuji’s apartment in Ahmedabad, my strongest memory is of the dogs who start the morning, more surely than any rooster. You always wake up with a sense of the struggle for survival which seems to need quarreling. In no time at all, I am quite totally present in this world with vague unformed anxieties and alertness, not quite ready to take on the day, but uncomfortably aware that I must do so.
I feel a familiar feeling. I am a stranger here, yet I know everything about this place, the people, the society, the weather, the climate, the geography, the history, the culture, the religion, the joys and the sorrows.
Narsinh Mehta said: “When the last hours of the night are lingering, the mindful person must not stay asleep.” In Gujarati, this reads as: Raat rahe jaahre paachhali khat ghadi, sadhu purush tyaare sooi na rahevu or રાત રહે જાહરે પાછલી ખટ ઘડી, સાધુ પુરુષ ત્યારે સુઇ ન રહેવું.
He goes on in this lyric to describe what each person according to his or her place in society should do. I need to add a line for my self (who I am) modeled on his style: “Those who are writers must begin to compose.” In a first attempt of saying this in Gujarati, it reads as: lekhak hoy tene lekh aadarvaa or લેખક હોય તેણે લેખ અાદરવા.
Well, all you real writers already knew this: Write when you are fresh, in the morning, when the cares of this world have not yet begun their demands. For a slow learner like me, this feels like brand new instruction. The only question is, will it stick this time?!
Another digression. Today marks the first day of the last month of the Gujarati lunar calendar. The first day of the nine nights of celebration of the mother goddess, Ma, Parvati, Ambika, Amba. I take this as a good omen of my step on the right path. I welcome every sign, signal, indication that the universe is conspiring to come my aid, and so I pay reluctant tribute to the universal writerly superstitions. There are so many forces out there to stop me from writing. I do treasure every hint of possible good fortune.
The evanescent spark has faded like the peacock’s call, all that’s left are the dogs barking.