Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Livinghigh was here at 9:16 PM /

Only for an instant

The third entry for today - I seem to be working extra-hard on some extra vitamins extracted from deep inside the confines of my cupboard. But this is a small fable - I'm not sure if I can call it a short story. A little thing which I thought of, looking outside the train windows, on the way back from Hyderabad.

Do you hear the music wafting in from far, far away? Prick your ears and you won’t, close your eyes and you might. People everywhere in front of you, laughing, talking, in their own worlds, and you in yours. You might be tempted to join in and laugh and chatter along, but only for an instant, because you will then be drawn to strain harder and listen for that music.

You will pucker your brows and frown and try to place the tune. You will look outside the window, and try to push the rumble of the train, the shrieks of happy laughter, the bobbing light overhead, all far, far away. You will try to imagine the dark outside, with nary a flicker, like some forlorn wonderland, or some primitive witch-doctor’s backyard, and you strain for the music. You will surmise that it came out from within the heartbeat of a thousand anguished souls, telling the life story of a thousand people. You will romanticise the tune you hear into a thousand different things that it is not perhaps, and you will still not be able to hear it clearly.

You might then realize how silly it all is and then settle back into your seat, content to be there amongst the laughing, chattering people around you, in that roaring, rumbling train. You might perhaps sigh a bit, and rest your head on the seat and think about what you did all day and all that you plan to do the next day. You might perhaps smile a bit as you recall a joke somebody said in the morning, or the way in which you were nervous as you trundled forward to your job interview and then tripped on the sidewalk. I dare say, even a tiny chuckle might escape you.

And then, when you suddenly feel the strains of music grow louder, richer, what will you do? The dark outside is far away, the bobbing overhead light in the compartment is nearer. The calm stillness of your head is oppressive, the laughter and the chatter outside is engaging. The cries of anguished souls are painful, while a single voice, singing in the moonlight of hills and valleys, home and hearth, is enchanting.

So you might be tempted to join in with the laughter and chatter along, but only for an instant, because you will then be drawn to strain harder and listen for that music.

But by now, you will have learnt the worth of an instant.

And finally, goodnight.


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