While the sky sprinkled stars, we stood below with our hearts and mouths open for any stardust that might fall our way.
"There's going to be a meteor shower today", S said.
"Really?" A replied, mostly enthusiastically. It didn’t mean anything, or convey any sort fo commitment. His involvement to the cause of meteor showers creaked and wavered like a sawed tree about to crash at ‘TIMBER!’
"When is it going to be?" The tree fell on a favourable side. No enthusiasm casualties so far.
"Tonight, between 11 pm and 2.30 am"
"Asshole", L cut in, it says 14th, not tonight." My already flailing enthusiasm, blipped the red of a dying battery. Any minute soon, I would call it a night and wish them all pleasant dreams. S and L argued it out, like they argued everything else out, starting from the direction ants preferred to march to whether the chicken or the egg came first. And like they do for everything else, they reached a consensus, just about when the argument was getting to be of some interest.
“Let's go catch some stars.”
“On the terrace?”
Unbeknownst to them, a silent but nevertheless, no-holds-barred, bloody wrestling matching ensued on the insides of my eyelids. Sleep vs Stars. Wham. Crash. Bam. Biff. Slap. Punch. Smmmmaaasssh. Either opponent not letting up, so much that the audience, if there were an audience, would be thinking about the miscellany audiences often think about. Sleep was just about getting the upper hand, pounding the teeth out of Stars’ head when S, who a second ago was lounging next to me on the sofa in his night shorts, walked out of his room in his jeans and jacket. Clearly, we were going much further than the terrace. He wouldn't get into his jeans for the terrace. The element of surprise took Sleep by exactly that. Surprise. Sleep doesn't work well in surprising environments. In fact that is the first rule in the rulebook of Sleep - remove all traces of surprise from your environment before attempting sleep. Stars whacked Sleep with a whack to end all other whacks and Sleep saw Stars. Bad news for Sleep. Right there, the battle was lost. When either opponent sees the other, it’s plain defeat for the see-er. Funny how a pair of jeans can change the course of fate - off came the pyjamas and on were my trusty old jeans and a more awesome 11.30 pm attitude. We piled into L's car as adventurers. We were out to gather pockets full of stars.
The night was a glass bowl left in the refrigerator. Chilly and fogged over. The moon-hanger must have been indisposed towards fulfulling his duties in lighting the round lantern in the sky. In the moon’s absence, the stars shone with all their energy, the stars shone brighter, the stars laughed down their cheer - for otherwise the earth would be blind. And on this particular night, the earth simply couldn’t be blind. For this was one of those nights, when the cosmic spirits that be, would empty the embers that stoked several billion dreamfires, by the sackfull. The night when the stars made their promise, and courses of fate were chalked out on the night sky. The night that the heavens light up with a million might-be destinies and we who dream, by just appealing to the stars, might find what it takes to keep us on the road. To keep us believing. Find what it takes to turn our cynical eyes heavenward and fill them with dreams instead. Dreams that might come true. The night, when we changed something, anything for the better.
We took right where we should have taken left. Dust, interstate buses and smog threatened to thwart our plans. They blew blindness into our eyes, they sidetracked us, they whitewashed night’s contours and silhouettes with their bright lights. We let them pass. They had to. Detractors always have somewhere else to be. Let them pass, and they lose their powers to influence you. More often than not, if you listen carefully, the road will guide you. Talk to you softly, leading you with the gentlest touch when you should proceed and resist, when you should forge a new route. The road slipped into a pocket of trees and beckoned to us. We followed like curious little children, taking its bait. Taking its path to the stars. Within the copse of trees, on a silent, secret road, we stood like lizards on the ceiling in an upside-down room in an upside-down world, gasping at zillions of diamonds scattered on the black carpet below. Above. Below. Above. Unreachable, anyhow! The diamonds pulsed with happy thoughts - magical cherry blossoms made of light. Some of them, came to life unexpectedly and skittered across the sky. Someone was skipping luminous stones across a giant, black puddle. We gasped. We yelped. We aahhed. We oohed. We were children again. Yes, we still knew those happy roads again. We were children, grinning lips smeared with starshine.
We stuffed the wonder, the magic, the sweetness - of our first-ever taste of chocolate, of our first-ever dance in the rain, of our first-ever smell of the roses we were never allowed near, of our first-ever puppy lick and the consequent happy grimace, of our first-ever brush of friendship, of our first-ever helpless giggle, of our first-ever stupefied gasp at our first-ever bunny pulled out of an empty top hat, our first-ever sense of awe at the lions, tigers, elephants, crocodiles at the zoo, our first-ever movie, our first-ever speechlessness at a perfect sunset, our first-ever dandelion experience, our first-ever embrace of the sea and its saltwater kiss, - into those moments. Our first-ever spasm of love for the universe. Our first-ever neck-straining-backwards, eyes filled with light, mouth-open-in wonder, breath-caught starstruckedness. We were young again. We would always be. Our dreams were young again. They would always be. Tenacious and bright, just like those stars. We were meant to take right. Now we knew.