Toya

I am no avid reader. I just read when I love to – when my wandering mind wants solace. More often than not, I am adrift. Thinking about inconsequential things. Taking photos that don’t make sense. Staring at the computer screen, just lost, like a black hole slowly spiraling inside me. The feelings are like little blips in darkness that flash, little bell lights with wind chimes tied to them, so when they glow, a faint toll rings in my ear.

Many years back, I was walking back from office, really tired, on a night that was especially hot and humid. The road was empty because it was late and I wasn’t not on the main road, but a wide alley that ran through rows of new, old and being-made buildings. These brick jungles muted the outside noise. It had the same feeling of standing under the bathroom shower, the water flowing like a wall between your ear and everything else. The only noise that floated on that ethereal scene was of a little chime. The obscurity of such an existence amidst an otherwise mundane urban scene threw me off. I looked around, only to find the little wooden windchime slowly undulating with each caress of the moist, heavy Bengal wind. It was carelessly attached to a verandah like a forgotten relic of love.

I used to be a hapless romantic. I still am, somewhat. This planet for me is love shaped like different things.

Far, far away in Japan, a lake lies in Hokkaido, beautiful blue water surrounded by volcanic mountains and lush green jungles. The pictures don’t do it justice. It is like meditation made static. On the days of the cherry blossom, I saw a road by the lake, the concrete covered by the fallen flowers a lacquer of pink and white, kissing the naked feet of ladies wearing kimonos while they scurried over.

I’ve always imagined myself visiting such a place, go to a shrine, and just sit there for hours. Where the cacophonies of the society don’t reach, we can hear other sounds. True sounds. Of nature, of things which can’t scream as loud as a blaring commercial, but have greater meaning. Temples and mosques and shrines and churches attract me because in those stone constructs are hidden stories. Those hidden stories are shy, like little kittens, and only come out when they believe that you will only be listening to them. You need to have the ear to listen to what they want to tell you.

The lake’s name brings back memories. Memories of a boy who is fond of his mother. That boy, introvert and doe-eyed, listened to her mom playing the piano. He kept her mother alive in his dreams by playing the piano when he grew up. He took care of his little sister, the sheepish school-friend, the flirtatious girlfriend. Yet when he played the piano, he became that kid again. The story, probably one of the greatest stories ever told.

Toya.

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