The sun was setting in the West as the train pulled up from a tunnel. That day, the clouds were weaving patterns of sand dunes in the skies – wispy ones strewn across the skies in no particular concentration. Definitely not corporeal in shape. Do clouds blush? These ones certainly were – they were blushing in the rosy hues of the sun, in the admiring glances given by every living being that took a moment to notice. A truly astounding sunset was in the making. The kind of sunset I would have liked to watch sitting atop a mountain, or by the seaside, watching the waters join the evening show with its myriad possibilities for reflection.
But, like I said earlier, I was on a crowded train standing, and glad, really very glad, I was standing facing the window showcasing the sunset instead of having to face the other way. One does not always get the choice. My old heart swelled – I was never one to turn its back on Nature’s beauty. That evening, it burst forth in song. The red planet, Venus, peeped out from behind the rose-tinted clouds. However conditions are on Venus, from here on Earth, she looks marvelous in the early evening skies.
I turned smiling to my fellow passengers to be greeted with: Nothing. If I wasn’t that euphoric, I might have despaired. Nobody looked up from their cellphones not even a glimpse into the beauties outside. I now realize how Artists feel when their best work is ignored. There the star was, shoring up extra hydrogen and fusion-ing the stores like no planet has before, to helium. The clouds, as already established, were blushing and putting on their best show, and no one looked up from their scrolling! T’was enough to make the poet in me curl up and wail. Instead, I hitched myself up and pointed the sunset out helpfully to the ones standing near me. Every one of them, when they saw the sunset, had a moment in which their pupils dilated, and they stood awestruck.
It felt like a fitting tribute to one who was reading The Little Prince by Antoine Saint Exupery at that very moment. Translated by Richard Howard, himself a poet, this rendition of The Little Prince matched the spirits of the sunset outside. The Little Prince enjoyed seeing sunsets so much – one time he actually shifted his chair multiple times around his little planet to catch the sunset 44 times.
Excerpt from The Little Prince:
“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”
And a little later you added:
“You know– one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…”
“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”
But the little prince made no reply.”
I understood The Little Prince’s yearning for the sunset. I can be seen drooling over the sunset when the world is watching Super Bowl matches, or busy accomplishing something. I tell myself that watching the sunset is an accomplishment.
Sunrise and sunset are times of transformations, and probably the reason we enjoy them so much. They are beautiful, do not last forever, and set the pace for the next few hours of one’s life. The beautiful transformations are always the gradual, fluid ones – the ones that can assure us of our capabilities to adjust to the coming states – good or bad. A lesson in life’s rhythms.
I came home that evening and gabbled on about the folks on the train who missed the sunset. “Just imagine! What they could have enjoyed, and instead they all looked into their devices!” I said incensed.
The daughter gave me a look of exasperation as if to say “Did you make a pest of yourself and point it out to others?”, and went on to enact a scene with her little brother.
Child: “Do you really want to go out today? It is so so cold! And windy!”
Mother: “Yes! I want to catch the sunset – why don’t you come with me?”
Child: “Nope! You are nuts – I will look at the sunset from here, are you at least going to wear a jacket or no?” says she.
Mother (shrugs): “Jackets – phsih tosh bigosh! Jackets are for weak people!””
Child: “Amma! No. You know what, that’s it. Either layer up properly – cap, jacket, shoes etc and then head out, or you are not going to see the sunset!” she says, her lips firm, and a smile twitching at this nature-kook of a mother of hers.
“You know? You really do become a child with sunsets and fiddle-dee-dumps!”
I laughed heartily at this compliment. Like the author says in The Little Prince: the more he sees of adults, the less he thinks of them.
“I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.”
I was doubling up and cackling with the children after their marvelous performance, and said smartly “Yes my dear children! Sunsets, like life, do not last forever! You want a sense of purpose? Catch the Sunset!”
They rolled their eyes.