The night was still young, the errant crackers from somewhere faraway still continued to burst in the Diwali sky. I looked at my watch: 2.25 am. I had overhead someone earlier in the evening mention that 10.30 pm was the curfew time for crackers this year. Obviously the message had not gotten around enough.

I sat in the dark of my bedroom, my little boy fast asleep behind me. I sat at the edge of the bed, looking through the glass window and the iron railings beyond it. The fireworks would light up the dark sky and then within seconds it would be dark again. I sat listening to my son’s breath, sometimes light, something a little drawn. The smoke of the crackers had given him a congestion.

As I listened, I slowly began to notice another sound of breathing. I dared not move, because I was afraid I would lose it. As I focused, I realized it was my breath, gently going in and coming out. I sat still, this was one of the few moments I was in the ‘Now’. I wanted it to last forever.

In a while, I began to feel my nerve throbbing at my temple. I watched silently, it had been so long since I had experienced this stillness. The lights in the house on the other side of the road sparkled and twinkled, and I wondered if the throbbing at my temple was keeping pace with the flickering lights.

At last, I heaved a sigh, and lost the throbbing. I could not feel it anymore. My heart beat in my chest and I wondered at the peace that the night full of fireworks had brought. May be the coming year would let me find the stillness more often. I mulled over my routine, wondering how often I could afford to stay up so late and find myself. Just as I tried to sort through the jumble of my mind, another rocket swooshed into the sky at a distance, and burst into 5 different coloured flames. It was a beautiful sight, and I worried about the smoke. The spell was broken, the moment had passed. I was still no more.

~ bharti athray

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