It's been a while since you've come to the park alone. Everything rushes in to greet you. The rain trees with their canopy shyness, the drying grass, the tabebuia leaves turning yellow, the scraggly park stray dogs who respond to your smiles, the sweeper ladies who stop to chat. Your cloak of solitude still fits you so well, allowing space for the world to pass in and out. You smile as you walk into a grove resonating with barbet calls, content.
The first tabebuia impetiginosa has bloomed already! You wait for this all year. This brief blossoming that bursts into your life every Oct-Nov. You watch the flowers at your feet, flabbergasted that you are allowed yet another chance to see this miracle. What a privilege. You can never quite get over this.
Every time you are shown something new, in this space you have been visiting for years. Today is the day of the parakeets. All over the park you come across the rose-ringed parakeets. Lying down under the silk cotton tree, you look up and see one sitting on a broken branch, peaceful, watching the world below. As you walk back, you see crowds of them on trees, sunning themselves, linking tree to tree with their constant flights up and down, their sweet shrill cries cutting through the stillness. A family sees you looking up and stops to stare too, "Hey, parrots!" :)
And you wonder at how you have taken these beautiful birds for granted, just because they are so common in this city. There are so many all around your house too, you wake up to their calls every morning. Any way you look at it, they are exotic, stunning. You wonder at how much you take for granted, just because you have it so easily, just because it is part of your every day, just because it has been given without being asked for.
You pray that you will always remember that you are rich beyond imagining....
Twice during your walk, park sweepers stop to chat with you, telling you of their woes, the struggles of their hard lives. You stop and listen to them, give them all very liberal Diwali tips, knowing how little difference you make to their suffering, sadly. You are always singled out for such encounters - in a group, you are always the one beggars will come to expecting kindness. Maybe you have "fool" written all over your face? :)
May you always be just as foolish, just as generous. May you go away empty-handed and happy. May you never forget the unknown dervish.
The platform under the silk cotton tree is now covered with dry leaves. Soon, the bare branches - and then the blossoming in December. The wheel has turned a full circle. Here we are again, ready for renewal, yet another time.
Of late you have been noticing how everything you have read and experienced all your life is now a part of who you are, how so much has seeped into the very fabric of who you have become. You owe a debt you can never repay, to so many all over the world, alive and dead.
You have lit your candles at so many altars, each time the darkness descended. You have been pulled out of whirlpools by the most random glimpses of beauty, by the most ordinary of mornings, resplendent with squirrels and flowers sellers.
You have been broken, nay re-arranged, until you have seen.
... And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
Wendell Berry, 'The Wild Geese'
The full series here: http://whiletheworldisgoingplaces.blogspot.in/search/label/Notes_from_a_Ritual
Parakeet picture from here.