It was winter in Bombay then. Bombay winters, as everyone knows, are slightly frustrating; in the sense there is no real coldness. It’s more of a pleasant feeling everywhere. The weather is simply pleasing sans scenes of chattering of teeth, feeling of warm pullovers, snugness of beautiful nights tucked in warm quilts, basking in the afternoon sunshine. Bombay winters are actually disappointments to people who have experienced the beauty of the season in the eastern and northern parts of India.
However, the incident that I am going to narrate is of a winter night in Bombay itself. That time we had recently shifted to a property and the newness of the house prevented me from the snugness of familiarity during the nights. It was one such night, when I tossed and turned in the bed for a while. I was reading a book way past midnight and was unaware when I had dozed off. By the time I had woken up it was still pitch dark with the sound of the hooting owls and the constant dizzying noise of an insect. I was trying desperately to get some sleep. But after that eluded me for a while, I decided to get up and walk up to my balcony.
From the 24th floor of my new flat, the night view seemed amazingly beautiful. A cold breeze was blowing and surprisingly this time it made me shiver. I took out a shawl and made a cup of hot chocolate. The combination seemed perfect as I stood on gazing at the night time beauty of Bombay winter. The cars were still running on the road around 4 AM. I looked up to see a string of lights moving above – aeroplanes were zooming across the skies to their respective destinations. The moon was peeping behind a grey cloud and the sweet light added a surreal glow to our mortal earth. The ambience was indescribable. It could have been a combination of eeriness, melancholia and glum put together. Yet in spite of it all, it could not be said to be a sad one since night seemed to be having a beauty of its own – an unearthly charm that can only be felt but not described.
A bird chirped from some faraway place. A few crows cawed and the beauty of the silence was a tad broken before being resumed all over again. I wondered at the calmness of the night, the comfort the silence provided. Life seemed strangely peaceful at that moment. And during the day, the same city assumes monstrous proportions, the din, the chaos, the pandemonium take over, robbing the city of its innate charms. Standing at the balcony, staring at the cityscape, Bombay seemed completely mine, so close to me, so dear to me. The stillness had a rhythm of its own and I felt transfixed by it. I don’t know how long I stood there, probably an hour or so must be. Soon the voice of azaan reverberated everywhere, reminding me that it’s the beginning of yet another day.
The ashen sky turned slightly bluish and slowly the transition begun. It started off with the first few sounds, then a few more and suddenly there was no end to it. That night was memorable since it struck a beautiful chord in my heart. In short, it was beautiful.