I'd fastened a mindful stare on the biology book. They say evening's the better than any other hour for study, especially when it comes to studying the subjects you find difficult to negotiate. Biology was— still is and probably will always be—my greatest nightmare. So I’d focused all my senses on the pages of the book.
Just when I was beginning to understand the 'Plant Cell's figure, the electricity went off, bringing about absolute blackness in the room. At that precise moment, I was supposed to be furious as my attention, which I’d achieved after going through a massive struggle with my inner self, was torpedoed.
But in reality, I wasn't.
The veranda in our house is right in front of my room, at such a distance that I can make it out sitting on my reading chair. The moment the load-shedding fell, my eyes lit through the grills of the veranda on the sky, and it made me stock-still, as if time itself had ceased to flow.
The load-shedding seized from the buildings nearby all the intense, depressing lights, making the sky appear in its genuine figure. I could see the moon shining with all its glory—probably it was the full moon—and the dark speckles which stained its surface indiscriminately. I could feel my mind dredging up an old childhood tale about a grey-haired, sad woman spinning wool on the moon. Unawares, a smile touched the corners of my mouth.
I stood up and walked into the veranda. Raisa—my elder sister—mom and dad came out as well. We gathered at the veranda since apparently, it was the only place in the house unaffected by darkness.
“There you go again! The electricity doesn't even stay for an hour now,” said mom. “Didn't you say they were gonna fix the generator?” She looked at dad.
“Well, they were supposed to,” dad replied. “What can I do? Everyone’s a dodger these days.”
My sister said, “I’m gonna get the candles.”
“No, that won’t be necessary. Candles will spoil the view.” It seemed like dad was vocalizing my own thoughts. I thanked him in my mind. He went on, “Let's just sit here for now.”
We sprawled on the floor, feasting our eyes on the outside. And with that, the delight I’d sensed seconds ago once again surged through me.
I laid eyes now on a broader view of the sky. The moon, as I saw, was fringed by countless stars, some of which twinkled and some glistered still. The dark clouds stood out remarkably at the luster from all the luminaries. Goosebumps overpowered my skin as I viewed, for the first time in my life, clouds moving in their typical sluggish motion in the night sky.
There was a magical transfiguration in the surroundings of our house. Only two hues reigned everywhere in the open: black and white—a blend of black and white to be precise, like the movies of old days. Had the electricity been there, I would’ve seen only the spots near the buildings and lamp posts illuminated, and the rest obscure. But every inch of the ambience was now lit by the gleam of the moon and the stars. The tall trees in our garden, grasses, bushes, even the numberless greeneries in the distance stood stately at the majestic illumination.
The atmosphere resounded with the chirping of crickets. There was something about how they chirped. It evoked a sinister feeling and was euphonious at the same time. The melody turned me all ears, my heart dumbfounded.
“Fantastic, isn’t it?” My sister’s words ended the silence reigning in the veranda.
“Indeed,” said dad. “But perhaps we could have an even better view from the roof. Let’s move there, shall we?”
The proposal sounded excellent, and accordingly, we went up the stairs, feeling and groping for the rails.
I felt my insides quiver no sooner than I set foot on the roof as a wintry, bracing wind had blown right through me. It had an ineffable clemency, at which I felt as if I were revived by a magical spell.
We wandered aimlessly around the roof for minutes, savoring the nature in its enthralling appearance that we’d never been introduced to. And then, dad said pointing at the very middle of the roof, “Come, you all. Let’s sit here.”
As we lounged in a circle, mom said, “All right, we can’t have a better time than this for stories. So let me tell you one.”
My heart leapt to my throat. I gave my legs some stretching and sat tight, excitement bubbling up inside…….
Suddenly my eyes flashed open. Everything seemed blurry for a moment, and then it all cleared up. Heart racing like a storm, I searched madly for the spellbinding atmosphere I’d been relishing a little while ago.
And there was the veranda in front, but the sight was so different now because the electricity was there too, with all its power.
Bit by bit, my senses returned to me. I realized I’d been dreaming all along, though it took me some time to accept it.
It was more like a flashback, the dream. A memory which almost lost its place in my brain.
The city was not so modern in my golden times. Back then, the electricity was like a shy little bird—it never stayed at rest, rather came and disappeared spasmodically. The load-shedding frequently let us relish nature’s magnificence, unaffected by manmade creations, from the veranda or the roof, with mom’s captivating stories.
But now that the city’s seen modernization, there’s no load-shedding anymore. So, no more evenings on the roof, no more stories from mom, no more nature in its genuine figure.
I got down from the bed and walked out to the veranda. Grasping the grills, I looked around.
Right now, I could do anything and everything in the world to bring, even if for a minute, load-shedding back in the city.