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The Atticus Diaries
Bibliophile - atheist - reader of religious texts - B-School Grad - math-hater - part-time poet - wannabe bodybuilder - couch-potato - animal lover - non-vegetarian - software engineer - technophobe - day-dreamer - basketballer that never was - cruciverbalist - Indian - SriLankan - neither - marketing grad - financial analyst - another confused clueless speck living it up on good ol' earth!!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Alone In The Starlight

The summer sky is simple yet pithy and intriguing. During the day, it is an immense azure canopy with the few brave white puffs brushed roughly aside to the fringes. In the evening, it glows gold, amber and pink like an unfinished canvas as weary herons and egrets fly back that extra mile from the last few remaining water-holes. At night, with late moonrises, the glazed quietude of the starlit firmament is disturbed only by occasional lightning streaks as rare summer-storms promise welcome relief on yonder horizon. Amid the busy rustle of numerous coconut palms and the almost imperceptible rumble of distant thunder, stars silently await the April moon's arrival like tribal trappers awaiting their quarry. Thus unfolds the celestial tableau which I have so come to love over the years, complete with the daily transcontinental jets and perchance shooting-stars.

One of my first books was a bright and colorful one about the universe - a typical Russian children's book with magnificent illustrations and an intoxicating smell of fresh-print that Dad got me in one of those then-ubiquitous New Century Book Houses. The book opened my eyes to the magic of the night-sky. It introduced me to the world of The Big Dipper, The Orion, The Scorpio and others. It thought me how to spot planets and how a line drawn between the first two stars of the Great Bear led to the Pole Star. I remember picking favorite stars and naming them with a childhood friend... I remember waking Mom up at midnight to watch lunar-eclipses and meteor-showers (never saw the latter, though)... And I remember being filled with wonderment at the eerie possibility of alien eyes gazing into the same stars from yet another third rock from yet another sun... (Recently, I passed on the well-preserved book to a young friend... Hopefully, the book's spell has endured long enough the lead another wide-eyed boy into the enchanted gardens of the night sky.)

For several years, before work and relocation stole away such languorous summer indulgences from me, I used to spend hours and hours lying supine in my terrace with my hands folded behind my head, staring at the stars. Summer then was two months with the clichéd "little to do and all day to do it in". Even if you did device interesting activities, the sapping heat soon left you drained. At night, the heat stuck on to you in palpable molten sheets of sweat and stickiness. The hot air that the fans dutifully spewed offered little respite. So, post-dinner I'd rush to the terrace where few welcome wafts of breeze from heaven-knows-where would have already begun to caress the coconut-palm fronds with the first few songs of a nightlong serenade. Oh, how I valued those hours I had for myself in the terrace!

Starlight, unlike the gaudy showiness of the sun and moon, is refined - mysterious and ancient. On a clear night, a billion twinkles seem to whisper primordial secrets into discerning ears. There is a certain aloneness about star-gazing that is fascinating - a thrill in lying in communion with life or lifelessness billions of light-years away even as the hustle and bustle of mundane livelihoods right below recedes to a dull din. Under the stars, there are only two entities - you and the universe. There is nothing that is "yours" - the universe in its might encompasses and embodies everything else in one single unfathomable space-time continuum. You realize how small and immaterial you are in the scheme of things. Yet you feel part of something so immense and expansive that there is a certain pride in being even the transient diminutive speck that you are in inter-galactic shifts. And you lie transfixed as the stars continue their timeless march...

Yesterday, I crept up to the terrace after the rest of the family were long asleep, switched off my mobile and lay down to let the astral vision fill my senses... As one half of the sky lay bedecked in stars and the other rumbled ominously with lightning streaks like some wild drum-beat at the altar of pagan deities, I pushed strains of soap dialogues from neighborhood TVs, distant traffic and the cackle of conversation from other terraces into the background... The several untied ends in family affairs that had kept my forehead permanently knotted in stressed wrinkles over the last few weeks didn't matter anymore... After four long years, I stood soaked in the all-embracing benevolence of a solitary dip in the summer night sky... With nobody to share the moment with, with no fear pain or worry weighing my mind down, with the irritating glow of city lights wiped off my consciousness, with only the old song of coconut fronds on the night's invisible ears, I found a part of me that I thought I had lost forever...

And I then remembered the most fascinating fact I'd read in that old Russian book - that we see some stars the way they were years back because starlight takes years to reach the earth. As I began to slip into the depths of sleep, I wondered how the stars today will see a different Atticus- an Atticus from a happier time who believed that one could strip down life's complications at will, shed all the ties and binds of civilizations, stop chasing shadows and just be alone in the starlight...

April 21, 2008   09:51 AM PDT
Too good man... very well written.. i do remember seing u at school..
April 4, 2006   08:11 PM PDT

Oops... Dint notice... Thought it was before you started visiting this blog...

Thanx again for dropping by :))
April 4, 2006   04:05 PM PDT
The second last comment was mine.. and I have read this one.. I didnt remember it tho when I penned down mine.. It just occured to me and I penned it .... :S..

As for this lovely post, as Seagull rightly puts it, "you write what we all feel ..but its only you who can pen it down so well .."

I loved it.. maybe I will add this particular link to my blog...... I really like it. I like the A River post too!!!.....

September 21, 2005   02:58 PM PDT

Thanxalot... Do leave your URL if you blog... Keep dropping by
Name Vidya
September 20, 2005   11:01 PM PDT
It reminded me of my childhood days that i spent watching the starlit sky.

Amazing article...
May 6, 2005   11:35 AM PDT

Thanx Granny :)

BTW, almost guessing ain't good enough... SMS ur guess :)
May 5, 2005   08:56 PM PDT
Another senti sweet post from the old old man:)
Nice one Atticus...
btw I can almost guess who the little Atticus in the preceding pic is:D
May 5, 2005   11:13 AM PDT

@ Campus, we usually the stars used to blur a bit during nights in the terrace... hic... :D
May 5, 2005   11:12 AM PDT

YIPEE!!! He's back!!

As lovely as ever...
May 5, 2005   09:50 AM PDT
Really lovely.. :) Took me back to the night sky on campus... clear skies, no other light for miles around and a night sky filled with shiny stars.. for once, all of us on campus knew what starlight looked like! :)

May 4, 2005   07:50 PM PDT
Silent field;
Throes of dawn on
The lone gazer....
May 4, 2005   05:28 PM PDT

Aaaaahhh!!! Poetic justice... :)

Feeling like the proverbial wood-cutter who refuses gold, silver axes only to get all of them together :D
May 4, 2005   05:22 PM PDT

Hmmm...... Guess two old software-programmers can't really speak for everyone, can we? :p :)
May 4, 2005   05:20 PM PDT

Thanx Ma'am :)
May 4, 2005   05:19 PM PDT

Thanx :)

Feels good to be back! Really good!!! Been on weird vacation this one... I am almost looking forward to work :)
May 4, 2005   03:55 PM PDT
Looks like ur keeping ur word is not going to help....may yet get posted in the driest corner of Chennai.....:((
May 4, 2005   11:20 AM PDT
Life seems to run in parallels in different places at different times. Well, that didn't make sense did it :) !

You know why we all love you blog - coz you write what we all feel - well, a little more or a little less - but its only you who can pen it down so well that we relive it.

Welcome back Atticus :) !
May 4, 2005   11:06 AM PDT

I am glad...:):):):):):):)
May 4, 2005   12:02 AM PDT
beautiful, esp. the last paragraph...dazzling like the stars :)

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