Monday, May 16, 2005
Brightness slowly descends over the town. The town of chennai , driving away the night. Thousands of sleepy residents stir uncomfortably in their hot , sticky beds hoping to prolong this trace of coolness - almost an illusion - that persist in those wee couple of hours when the sun is still making preparations for a majestic entry and the stars still happily shine down this packed little town. A town brimming with people , a town choking in its own gases ,a town starched by dryness and rotting away slowly. An illusion it is , the coolness , for when the brightness descends , it is infact gloom for many if not all. An old wall clock ticks away merrily unaware of the prayers of millions of people wishing it to stop ; to freeze there when the sky is still dark and the moon is still the king. But the clock ticks on. The hours melt away and the brightness begins. A long day has begun. 7 AM - one begins to feel the taste of things to come. The fan that crazily spun throughout the night sending down air , hot though , suddenly becomes meaningless. It seems to lose its primary function of moving the air around. The town awaits in deathly stillness , the beginning of the nightmare. People scramble quickly from their beds when they begin to get drenched in their own sweet presipitation - sweat. It is 9 am and the blast of warmth envelopes the town like a suffocating nylon. Gasping and cursing people push through their daily jobs. Tickle , tickle , tickle and soon it is a river of sweat. Parched throats eagerly gulp down cold water. That simple liquid that is more precious that the costliest gems. People glisten with their patina of sweat , a permanent resident on the skins. At 11 am the oppresion moves to another level. Breathing gets heavier and a strange restlessness takes over - almost homicidal. Anger , frustration and irritation all fuse into a common helplessness. People find comfort in company. Sad faces peer at each other hoping for a solution even as the skin feels like it is on fire. It just could not get worse , or can it? By two PM we realise that it in fact can get worse. Perrhaps death or the instant of death when a person feels that moment , just a moment of intense fear and pain feels like this. The clock ticks away merrily. Windows get hastily shaded , blinds drawn , and darkness makes the war a little easier. This war against heat. The clock seems to be slowing down. Or is it another illusion ; heat taking its toll. People begin to dream of waterfalls, swimming pools , cool lakes and so many other bodies of heaven. A sharp twinge as a sweat bead pierces its way through the pore in the neck and runs down through the back coarsing a path of fire. Uneasiness and claustrophobia. Help. Souls give up and close the shutters of the mind by forcing an unwanted sleep hoping that when they wake up it is all a bad dream. but the nightmare is real. Tickle , tickle - the sweat.... Tick , tick - the clock ..... gasp , gasp - the breath.....these are the only sounds as the sun relents and speeds down to show its more benign grace on other parts of the world. The night has arrived. Hearts rejoice but there is that little fear in the deep recesses. That fear of the finiteness of the night. After 12 hours the nightmare will begin again. A cycle that never ends.