Chidiya Tapu brought this back –
One of the earliest memories that I have of being a child are those where my mother animatedly fed me. She’d bring a plate with my food, sit next to me and patiently ball the food, craftily hiding any elements that may at sight inconvenience this every day ritual of ours. I’d watch on, waiting to retaliate, insist I wasn’t hungry or even try to play with the little balls of food. But like several Indian parents, she’d carry me in one hand, the plate in the other and walk out to the balcony. Without any talk about the food, she’d point to the moon. She’d say,
Nila paaru, Nila paaru (look at the moon, look at the moon)
Evalovu vattamaa irukku paaru… (look at how round it is)
Then she’d take a ball of food, raise it to the moon, making it hide the moon. Sometimes the rice ball hid the moon only partly. Sometimes I’d have to conk my head to the right or make it fall to her shoulder to see it from her perspective. The ball of food would look as if it emanated a glow from behind, fairy-like, angel-like, magical.
Nilaava saapiduvoma? (Can we eat the moon?), she’d ask.
One day, it finally came out from my mouth – ‘Where does the sun go amma?’
Sometimes she’d tell me that the sun went on a trip, sometimes she’d tell me that the sun was sleeping and we were inside it’s shut eyes (hence the darkness). But mostly she’d say that the sun was temporarily dead.
Yaaru kolapannunaa? (Who killed it?), I’d ask.
Clouds ellam senthu kolapanniduchu (The clouds came together and killed it), she’d say.25 or so kms away from Port Blair is Chidiya Tapu. If you ask the locals about it, they’d tell you that it’s the best sunset point on the island. Delina, Alphina and I were exhausted, tanned and parched after a visit to Red Skin Island. But our friend insisted. We were there at 4 in the evening. There was nowhere to sit, so we leaned against the railing of a watch tower, away from the rolling waves of the beach below. Rutland islands, it’s mountains rose from the sea in front of us. Light clouds loomed above it. The sky, the mountains, the sea, all looked painted in a similar colour, a light blue, a paler blue, then a grey.
For long, we waited for the sun. The regular sunset time was falling on us, but the sun was not to be found. Then it appeared slowly, out of nowhere. Those faint clouds couldn’t have hidden the sun without us noticing it for so long. Lines of orange broke the monotony of the clouds, the sky. We weren’t quick enough for it. Before we could begin to take it in, it was gone again. But the inevitability of time, end of a day did not wait for the missing sun, the sun which had to set. The clouds were cast in a darker light, the trees on Rutland a mass of black. The clouds began to gather together. Into a circle they had drawn for themselves. They gathered together, leaving the sky to look desolate, naked.
The majesty of the sun that day shook us, kindled childhood and left us in sobriety and peace. Just like Good Friday every silence was in us but that of mourning.
~ In Him we thrive ~
Location: Chidiya Tapu, South Andaman.