Nietzsche had once said that he pondered over and expounded most of his profound theories while walking alone in moonlit nights. I usually understand about half of what he said, and even that by an extreme stretch of imagination, so I believe that he must be right.
Moon is considered a thief and a con by all the mythologies and is said to exert a mysterious force on human psychology. It’s loved by those romantic fatheads called lovers and is scoffed by those practical people, who dot the face of earth in abundance and call themselves materialist proudly. Magician that the moon is, it creates fear in the heart of a thief because of its soft brilliance, and romance in that of a lover due to the same reason. Ugly and rough, it masquerades as an epitome of beauty with the help of stolen sunshine and blue clouds and is able to evoke romance in the most calloused heart. I’ve always been fascinated by that heavenly orb and its glorious beauty. May be, this affection and love for that heavenly thug is due to my name, which means the full and the opal moon.
According to the ancient Zen Buddhist seer Sarana, who deciphered the codes of Amida Buddha, one should keep asking questions to oneself and keep answering them too. When one is able to answer all the questions one can ask oneself, one is considered ‘The Buddha’, or ‘The Enlightened One’.
That night I was walking alone on the moonlit road snaking along the bank of the placid river flowing near my home and was thinking. I’m basically a nocturnal guy and am given to such nightly perambulations, as they kick my lethargic mentality to activity. Furthermore, considering my penchant for the night shifts, nightly tramping is my lot like those Hawaiian Night Marauders, who are considered Angels of Death in Polynesian mythology. The glorious full moon was playing hide and seek with dark clouds. The stars were feeling lazy and twinkling intermittently as a sleepy child reciting the table of 2. Bombay is very humid, but fortunately Panvel, where I live, has a dry climate. A cool breeze was rustling the leaves of the trees in the jungle on the other side of the road, which combined with the creaking of branches, presented a symphony fit for such a romantic night, which could give a tough time to a composition by our contemporary and celebrated ‘Bombay Boy’ Zubin Mehta in his Royal Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. I could actually visualize the maestro waving his magical baton delicately, in his own inimitable style, to direct these inanimate musicians and creating a heavenly composition, fit for such a night. Ah! I do have a vivid imagination! The bleak Muslim graveyard across the river was bathed in those maverick moonbeams and had let go of some of its morbid and dire prophecies of mortality and fickleness of humanity like a rude boss endeavoring to smile in an office party. The gravestones were glowing in the moonbeams, as if the dead were reliving their days of glory, long begone, or as if the earth was smiling, showing giant white teeth, after gobbling away those mortals and hoping that we will forget after seeing her smile. Not unlike Idi Amin smiling and posing for a picture after slaughtering hundreds.
I, an infinitesimal dot in this grand design, was walking on the deserted road, under the shadows cast by the brooding trees on the fringe of jungle, awed and speechless by all this beauty and romance! I could have written a haiku, if I was a bit less voluble, because some beauties defy words! Overwhelmed and silent, I kept walking, humming raag Sohni. The romantic midnight raga, thus contributing my own little share in this grand orchestra.
As it always happens, whenever our mind is empty of thoughts, we start ruminating about some long forgotten event and try to redraw it according to our own improved experience. We start asking questions to ourselves. Some of these questions really question our own sanity! I began with material and innocuous questions about life, which I was able to answer effortlessly. Then, suddenly I slid into a quagmire and was surrounded by questions, which suddenly stumped the all-knowing Rakesh! I scratched my head and sat down on a boulder at the river bank. I started throwing pebbles into the calm Kalundre river, disturbing the beauty sleep of those cute fishes, which always remind me of a nubile Bengali beauty like my grandmother, who was a very sad bong beauty, as she could never get this necessary staple for a true blooded bong, considering that we are Brahmins of Kashi; and looked at my amorous namesake for answers. The moon simply shook its head, smiling enigmatically and resumed its flirting with the dark and sensuous clouds. I bent towards a beautiful and fragrant nocturnal flower, which goes by the name Raat Rani in Hindi, or ‘The Beauty of Night’. I never pluck a flower as a rule for its beauty and vivacity. A poor guy appreciates money and an ugly person appreciates beauty. One needs to lack something to appreciate its worth. Like an innocuous snowflake, which lands on the top of the Alps and begins an avalanche, which destroys everything; that lovely flower initiated an avalanche of questions.
Here are those unanswered questions I’m looking answers for. Each new and unanswered question begins where the last ended, hence they all are interrelated. Please enlighten me if you have any answers. As I don’t much care for logic, I don’t need logical answers. Here goes…
Why the flowers die? Why can’t they always remain beautiful and fragrant when they know that they are so petite and pretty and give such a huge happiness to man and insects alike? I agree that nothing is immortal, but why don’t these symbols of optimism live for 80 years and we, who don’t think twice before plucking them, die in three days? After all, mosquitoes do! Like these little pests, we humans are doing more harm than good. The mosquitoes form little, ugly clouds over our heads every evening and make us miserable.
Why these clouds blanket the skies gloomily like a shroud on a corpse? Whom are they trying to hoodwink? Don’t they know that we already have our own darkness in our souls without these clouds adding there own tuppence to it? Why they don’t just put down their tools and call it a day? Won’t we mortals happily pay their day’s worth? Why they can’t just let the smiling sun do his job?
Why the sun suddenly gets so angry? He wakes up so mild, shivering in the morning cold. Cuddling up to the mountains like a whining child to his mother. Reluctant to leave his bed and unwilling to wash his face in the merry river. What makes him so angry within a few hours that around noon, he wants to burn everything down! Why it happens everyday? Why is he so temperamental? Does it happen because even he can see from that height that what a mess we are making of this earth? Why this Kalundre river cannot appease him, in spite of her cool and soothing water?
And, why is the river always so happy? Why she never feels cold during freezing winter nights? Why she gargles like an infant when we are toiling, and laughs when we perspire? Why she never objects when we dump everything we don’t want in her lap? Why is she so forgiving and is happy to quench the thirst of its tormentors and destroyers? How can one be so cool when all the world is trying to obliterate it? Why she always giggles and never weeps?
Why we weep when we are happy? Why we smile when sad? Do the tears have a religion? They say, smiles bring one closer to God. So, where do the tears take us? Does God ever cry?
If there’s a God, why does He allow His children to get killed for Him? I don’t ever let my children fight., so why does He? He’s supposed to be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Why doesn’t He intervene and bring an order to the chaos? Why is He so relaxed and is willing to watch the world slide into the abyss with no bottom? Is He on an eternal leave? Does He ever cry when He sees His greatest creation acting worse than mosquitoes, who live only for three days? Why God plays with us like a cat with a mouse? Why He doesn’t consider His own strength and the frailty of us poor little things? Why He always thinks that He’s always right? He causes the water to rise to the universe and again let it fall? If He controls the universe, why isn’t He a bit logical and leaves the water here permanently so that we don’t have to die because of lack of rains?
Why is rain so moody? She drenches the soul and body of humanity. She completes the circle of life and is celebrated as the ‘Life Giver’ in the Holy Vedas. She makes the clouds frown. She makes the rivers gush. Why she makes us suffer at times due to her scarcity or abundance? Why she literally lives in Dehradun and never visits those drought ridden Maharashtra and other unfortunate states as if her mother-in-law lives there? Is she angry on us? Does she enjoy watching 2 months old infants gasping for a mouthful of water, while its helpless parents don’t care if it lives or dies, because they are worried about their own life? Even though we worship her as a goddess? If she’s a goddess, why’s she scared of winter and runs away like a scared kitten at her approach?
Is winter a nymph? She chaffs our lips like a passionate lover. She kisses our cheeks like a loving elder sister. She embraces us in her freezing grasp. She runs shivers through our spine like a passionate lover! Or, like some great fear!
Why are we afraid? There’s a chemical in our brain, which triggers fear. It varies. We all have our own personal phobias and pains. We know the end result. We all will die at the end. So, isn’t this fear redundant and contemptible? If death is the end, does arachnophobia or agoraphobia makes any sense? I may not be scared of the impending death but I’m scared of spiders! Weird!
Is death a mistress of life or she owns it and is a glorified and hated culmination of it? Is she ugly? Is she beautiful? Has anyone seen it in the eons of time before my puny existence, where millions have embraced her… Is she a lover? Is she a bitch? Why she never fails her appointment? Why’s she so punctual?
Why people are not punctual? Why they think that if they are late they will be considered important? If death and birth, the most important things in life are punctual, why aren’t they?
Why I think that I know everything, when I don’t even know such basic things and unable to answer my own self?
I don’t think that I can be The Amida Buddha in foreseeable future as I was unable to answer any of above damned questions!