Monday, August 7, 2017

Eclipse




From Times of India
Sporadic monsoon clouds smudge the night sky as I look out for the moon which struggles to shine through the haze.  There’s going to be partial lunar eclipse tonight, the newspapers say.  I’m interested in eclipses.  I am an eclipse myself.

The most memorable eclipse was when I was in Shillong.  It was in the last decade of the millennium.  I was sitting with a friend in his room when the air outside resounded with sounds of tin drums.  We came out to see what was happening.  Everybody was celebrating something.  Our landlady rushed to us with two tin drums and asked us to join.  It took us a while to grasp what was going on.  There was a solar eclipse.  The people believed that a dragon was swallowing the sun and the tin drums were meant to scare the dragon away.  Since the landlady insisted that we join in liberating the sun from the dragon, we did lest we be accused of gross neglect.  How criminal it would be to let the sun be swallowed by a dragon?  Moreover, it gave us much thrill to think that our tin drums were going to make themselves heard 150,000,000 km away.  It gratified our egos, to say the least.  My friend and I contributed our bit to the cacophony. 

I don’t know how many people in that whole horde of drum beaters actually believed that they were delivering the sun from the dragon.  The passion with which most of them beat the drums indicated that they were indeed serious about their mission.  Aren’t quite many of our rituals similar ego-gratifications?  How great we must feel to perceive ourselves as warriors against the powerful devils out there in the vast space around us!

If the heavens permit me, if the clouds clear, I shall stand outside tonight, beneath the diaphanous sky, in the penetrating quietness of the bucolic darkness except for the vibrating tymbals of cicadas in the leaves, I shall stand gazing at the moon being eclipsed slowly, partially, slowly…

14 comments:

  1. Sometimes we have to do things like that, tin drums.. however a new and novel concept.

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    1. But the clouds have become darker, the moon has vanished... Tin drums would land me in a mad house here in this small village in Kerala! 😀

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  2. Well the tradition of making noise to scare away the dragon from swallowing the sun is across the cultures in various parts of the world. I got to know about the mythology and practices only yesterday while browsing about blind beliefs that goes with an eclipse . Nice to have experienced it in person .

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    1. True, many people have that belief and practice. It's also fun for many, I guess.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and amusing memory. I missed watching the eclipse last night :\

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    1. I couldn't catch it either Purba because of the clouds.

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  4. Loved the poetry in this prose. Traditions are practiced followed blindly from generation to generation. The strong that you have narrated would be a good theme for a children's book. I have read somewhat similar one where the moon is being swallowed by a dragon and the animals come together to chase it away - the message there is quite different than the thing that was happening in Shilling however.

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    1. Moon and eclipses make me poetic 😊😊

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  5. For tonight, Tomichan, the cicadas would suffice. But for tonight.

    The sun awaits us on the other shore with shrieking cacophony of tin drums. But for tonight let's be happy with the cicadas.

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    1. Ephemeral pleasures are my birthright 😁😁

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  6. I did venture out and managed to click some pictures of this amazing celestial phenomenon.... :-)

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    1. I saw your post even before you mentioned it here.

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