Of Starry Skies & Summer

Before the advent of the inverter, power cuts in summer meant staring at the summer starry sky, fanning the mosquitoes away, playing all kind of games in the moonlight, chattering away the power cut hours.

As kids, my sister and myself spent almost every weekend with our maternal grandparents. As power cuts were a regular feature in our town (and it is still is), those black out hours were pretty intellectual for us. As soon as the power was out, we would carry our cane chairs out on the lawn along with the bamboo hand fans. Our grandpa would ask us all kind of GK stuff and we too in turn ask him all kind of questions.We would play “Antakshri”, but not of songs but of names of places! If the sky was clear, he would show us the milky way and teach us about the visible constellations. We would search for satellites (moving stars!) and watch out for shooting stars. Grandpa taught us to tell planets from stars. It was during such sessions that I got my first lessons in astronomy.

As we grew older and our grandparents moved out of town, other activities filled in the power cut hours. As we resided in a university campus, we could go on long walks within the campus. Children of the same age group would chat together while our parents would also do the same. Those hours were also that time of day, when  all the family members would come together and have chit-chats. As children, we would listen to the life stories of the elders, funny incidents, family stories, real ghost stories, and so on. We would learn  songs, jokes and games. But of all, I simply loved to gaze up at the sky.  I could look at the moon playing hide and seek with the clouds, while changing its position continuously and twinkling stars at length. The stars, the moon, the clouds, they all gave me a surreal feeling. A feeling that I am a particle of the same mighty universe as they are.

As I grew more older, and pressure of studies built on, I had to stay inside even during power cuts and continue studying. But even though, when I needed a break, I would come out and sit on the front porch steps and look up for sometime.

And now I stay in a city, where the stars are not visible even during blackouts. But thankfully, the moon is comparatively bigger to be seen and luckily visible right from my room window. At times the moonlight falls on my face while I sleep at night and drifts me back to the summer days of starry skies.

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