"Seeing into nothingness, this is true seeing and eternal seeing" ~ Shen-hui


Tribute to the Indian Summer

Romola Butalia writes a tribute to the Indian Summer, that we all know and mostly curse.

There is a seductive quality about summer afternoons stretching languorously, endlessly. Within them is the memory of childhood vacations when adults have long tired of monitoring what you are doing. There are those who grow restless at the listless prospect of summer stillness when not a leaf moves. I recall the oppressive heat of summer without electricity in Kolkata. And I am delighted by my rendezvous with eternity. One can never begin to unravel time while engaged in activity. Like a lion resting watchfully; like a buffalo immersed in a pond so it does not even have to flick its tail from the irritating menace of flies; like an alligator disguised as a log of wood; I am loathe to blink an eye for the effort of movement it involves.

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What peace descends when there is no electricity, no generators, no whirring machines, no rapid tip-tap of laptop keys, no blinking lights on mobiles that have died of charge. We have forgotten the joy of endless summer stillness in our yearning for creature comforts. Forgotten a time when water was a refreshing drink cooled in an earthen pot. When ice-cream was not something you took out of a fridge, but cranked hard on a wooden pail before it finally set. When fruits like jamun and mangoes were plucked off trees. The labour involved in every sense gratification made one acutely aware of the joy of actualisation.

Give me one afternoon of childhood summer. When inventiveness was to build houses with upturned chairs and sheets. When competition was with the old dog to discern the slightest whisper of change. When stillness meant that the perspiration that trickles has evaporated until the effort to perspire is too much.

In one leaping bound, childhood fled without trace. And yet, truth be told, summer afternoons will take you back to Alice's Wonderland and Mary's Secret Garden. The key lies in a return to simplicity sans entertainment, sans comfort. The answer is not in stimulation but boredom, not activity but stillness, not in another but within the hidden recesses of oneself.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.