There is something about brooding that makes young people romanticise it and emulate it. It is as if, once out of the shell and not able to make sense of the reality they are facing for themselves, anyone who feels like they do seem like a hero. If that guy is sitting there and thinking, he must be onto something. It is almost a cliche in cinema for girls to solve brooding men, or to become the source of their brooding. Arghh. Well, there is nothing wrong with being pensive and I, for one, can totally sympathise with this tendency of young ones. It is just, from my vantage point, it seems really cringeworthy.
Nevertheless, the boy has now become known for being one such brooding person. I cautiously used the word ‘known’, because it was not as if he was popular or anything. Lets just say few who knew him in the class, felt he was a quiet, brooding guy and that was it. He had few friends and he chose to be with them, not caring for others mostly. That is why he was surprised at himself, when he found himself traveling in the school bus without his friends.
“This is such a drag. I should have checked with K. if he was coming as well, before paying.” — mumbling and scolding himself, while sitting alone and staring at the fields passing by through the window.
Please do not mistake his classmates to be bullies or inconsiderate brutes. Observing him sitting alone quietly, K.B. approached him and asked him how was he doing.
“Hey man. Why are you sitting here. Come join us”
“No I am doing fine here. You guys do what you are doing.”-he summoned a smile, hoping he would leave him alone soon.
“Don’t worry. We are just playing Antakshri. Just sing along and have fun. It is better than looking at the fields outside.”
“Well i like doing this looking outside. Helps me think. I told you, carry on without me. Thanks for asking…” — The boy responded in an irritated tone. He does not understand why these extroverts always want others to get involved. They can not let us live in peace, can’t they.
The extrovert guy was taken aback by the tone of the boy’s answer and decided it was for best if he stays here alone. He was not sure what went wrong but at least he tried. Thinking this, he smiled and bid him adieu, leaving him alone with the passing fields. The boy would go on to hate himself for not going to the back of the bus and singing songs, when he grows up.
“How would he understand. It’s not his fault. It would have been better to stay home and finished up on those assignments.” — He thought to himself. It was an habit of his, to hate what he is doing. While studying he hated studying and while on a trip, he hated traveling, longing for unfinished assignments.
He just wanted to get out of the city. One day he will leave all these people behind and be someone. Be great. And seeing all the people in the back of the bus, having fun, he was inspired more. How can they be having so much fun? Don’t they know there are bigger things in life?
Bigger things in life — That’s what boy always thought about. When he was looking outside the bus windows, he was not really looking the lush green fields or tall dark trees that whizzed by them. He did not notice the pinkish hues of a slowly transforming blue sky, like a palette of Sun and Moon’s making at the day’s twilight. He felt he was looking beyond them at something greater, as if trying to discern the ways of the universe meant looking beyond what the universe presented to him.
He hoped his misery should end soon. He could not have been disappointed more when after few hours, the bus whirred and staggered and finally came to an halt. Not this, now. “Universe really hates me” — the boy thought to himself, smiling as if he was a hero of the Odysseus and this were the necessary tribulations that the he needed to overcome. The bus was nowhere and it was totally dark outside. The only lights were coming out from the bus windows, illuminating the road on the sides.
“Ok. Guys and gals, the bus has broken down and it can take few hours to get it right. Since we would miss our dinner stop to make up for this time, we can have our dinner at that Dhaba.” — The teacher made the announcement while pointing to a group of lights at some distance along the road.
This could not have sucked more. Walk to a dhaba in the middle of the night. Anyways, he asked if he can stay in the bus and the teacher refused, because all the teachers would go with the students to see everything is alright and they can’t keep an eye on him, if they leave him behind. Whatever. They start walking towards the dhaba, in groups excited about how even their bus being broken down has become an excursion. You can see boys, using the complete darkness as an opportunity to tell scary stories to girls. Whatever, the boy thought. He could tolerate this only a bit more.
As the group of students were chugging along the side of the road, like a slow passenger train which slows at random places and had to be implored to move along-someone from the group said something and the whole group came at a standstill. The boy, who was walking a bit behind did not understand what happened and he tapped the shoulder of K.B. to know what happened. He noticed everyone was looking up and perplexed what was happening, looked up himself.
He could not believe his eyes as he gasped, his eyes widening as his neck cranked upwards. The sky was more white than black, filled with bright white dots as if drawn with a thick white marker on the jet black sky. The heavens were leaking out, the night sky barely being able to contain it from coming to earth.
He noticed everyone was looking with the same bewilderment towards the sky. Living in the city, you do not know there are so many stars in the sky. So many possible worlds with their own beauty and complexity and each with their billions of years of histories. After so many years, he felt small. He forgot how the night sky looked. He forgot how he would spent so many nights looking at it. He felt as if he was visiting an old friend, who he has known him longer than he was alive.
He felt sad that he cannot look at this sky everyday, living in a big city. He promised himself to never to forget this night sky. Or what looking at it make him feel.
Finally, after few moments, the group started moving towards the dhaba again, this time in complete silence. The boy could see the group whispering something among themselves.
The universe was telling him where to look at, by shining its light on the people that will be his redemption in a world he was looking beyond. Maybe there is no beyond, for what can be more beautiful than the current moment, the shared ephemeral slice of time shared among people who are not alone for once as the glimmering light unites them. How much he wanted to say all this to these people, whom he now felt a shared destiny with but alas, cannot for the fears that still inhabit him. He felt strange inside but he knew he had to do this something.
“Would you mind if i join you guys?”-he hesitantly asked K.B. who was happy to accept him as one of their own even after the evening encounter as he took his shoulder in his arms and tagged him along as they walked laughing in a jovial walk towards the dhaba ahead.