Mayank Chhaya, circa 1984, (Pic: Gopal Shetty)
The inner edge of the waning crescent Moon this morning looked freshly sharpened. It sliced the clouds into fine wafers.
Being an early riser, mostly between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., I have this habit of going out in my front yard and surveying the surroundings and the sky. Today was special because the annual Perseid meteor shower was supposed to be particularly spectacular at dawn on August 12.
It was 5.30 and the realm seemed undecided between darkness and light. There was no confusion for the waning crescent Moon as it was sharply resplendent in the reflected glory of the Sun. The clouds were slate gray with a mauve edge. That’s when it happened. A streak of white light shot through the sky to my right. Since dawn was already breaking the meteor crash did not look bright. It was more like someone had scratched a chalk line across a slate gray board. I pretended to catch the remnants of that meteor in my fist and pocket them.
With that unexpected success behind me I came inside. On my desk was this picture of mine taken in 1984 by friend and terrific news photographer Gopal Shetty. I was 23 then. There is a reason why I have used the picture with today’s post. I remember it was that evening sitting in my office at the Free Press Journal newspaper in Nariman Point, Bombay, that I wrote the following verses. When you read the verses you would understand the connection between today’s “shooting stars” and the picture.
The Urdu/Hindi verses:
Jeeta koi nahi, Sirf hara hoon mein
Mein hi dard aur khud chara hoon mein
Roshni pe meri tum na jana yaaron
Yaqayaq jo toot jaye
Woh sitara hoon mein
(No one won, only I lost
I am the pain and the I am the cure
Don’t be fooled by my light
I am but a shooting star
That crashes suddenly)
That’s neat, is it not? I mean the connection.