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“Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day…” 

Cat Stevens

My mother taught me this song during one of our family prayer sessions (yes, we had those when we were children and still I turned out the way I did) and I always loved this song. I don’t think I ever thought too much about how deep the song went in terms of its lyrics but it just felt nice on the ear drums. It was further strengthened when I went to school and was taught to sing this at morning assemblies along with other children whose strained vocal chords to hit the notes  sounded close to a car screeching to a halt. It wouldn’t have made a difference because this song was etched in my heart as some songs are for no apparent reason really, just that it made you feel absolutely tingly all over when you sang it.

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I recently visited a village and had the opportunity to spend the night on the roof of a very lavish house for a village and stare at the blanket of stars which appeared as though they were doing a little show for me, twinkling away in rhythm to the humming of the wafts of cold breeze. I found it hard to imagine that just a few hours away, was my blazing hot furnace of a room which took the energy of a cooler to bring down to normal. I spent the night listening to stories from girls who were younger than me and had babies and I wondered which wonderland I had suddenly been transported to.

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My eyes opened around 4 hours after they shut; at 5 AM to the bellowing of buffaloes who were being milked and the very loud chirping of birds in the surrounding fields. I woke up, reluctantly of course… and went to the parapet to witness the most beautiful view I had ever envisaged… it was like a landscape you tick on your personal journals of ‘Places to visit before you die’ and it was breathtaking. Lush green fields framed against a hillock with the sun just rising and creating a beautiful backdrop for the most stunning morning I had ever woken up to. I was in love.

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We were served fresh buffalo milk and sweets for breakfast (was I dreaming?) and this was honestly a shocker for me; were given money and a salwar suit in gratitude for us coming to visit them. You should understand that I come from a family of Christians where every rupee is given to charity, if not for bills and other necessities; the idea of someone giving away things for no apparent reason came as a big shock to me. I was later made to understand that this is a custom for most houses in the north and this is done every time a person visits their house for the first time.

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We bade them farewell and I was still engrossed in the beautiful greenscape and I kept asking my student’s brother-in-law who was dropping us off at the bus station to stop everywhere I thought I could get a nice shot. He was sweet enough to oblige and was I in for an even bigger surprise when we stopped by at a shrine which was frequented by a lot of monkeys and he asked the girls in the rear seat to throw away leftover puris and chapatis from the party on the night before. I was enthralled by what I was seeing and couldn’t take out my camera in time… it made me feel strange, sitting there in a village watching the most illiterate men behave so kindly with our fellow beings. Following that, we went ahead and stopped by at a small pond where he whisked out leftover dough from the party and gave it to us as we were told to make small balls and throw it into the lake. Even for a city bred ruffian like me, that one made sense… we were feeding the fish… like the ecosystem we study about in Science. I was actually completing my turn of the cycle.

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As we got back into the car and drove away, I felt those feelings… a good friend once said… “I believe in powerful moments, spent with others or just yourself, that make you cry, in sadness and happiness…” I couldn’t have said it better myself… I was actually tearing up a little as I put my head on the door… staring at a life which was so alien to mine but had just stolen a piece of my heart in less than a day… I could say it then with utmost certainty… “Morning had broken… “

– quote from Ishita Sitwala

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