As the lonely city nights linger through the darkness, the sleepless owls stay up hooting into the mournful moon.
The owls. That’s us. We are the owls infesting our cities with curiosity and secrecy, not giving a moment of solace.
But this darkness was like no other. As it would turn out, this tiny town had gone to bed early. I think the only people awake at that hour were my two friends and me.
We saw it the first night by chance. The effect was such that we couldn’t wait for the next day to come and nightfall to rise. The air was cool, the waters were placid. The leaves of the Peepal rustled in front of us. The smell of fresh rain mixed with blossoming night Jasmine lurked around. And we sat there in the dark, sipping red wine, playing the ukulele, taking turns with song requests. Every few seconds, the breeze would come in and give our cheeks a cool kiss. I can’t say about the other two but it definitely gave me more than a ‘cool kiss’. It gave me goose-bumps. I had to put on a light sweater to wait through the wait.
Slowly, the silhouettes had started to rise beyond the lake. A noisy Bagula swooped down below, ruffled its feathers and took flight again. Once more, there was silence. Apart from the Bagula, it would have been just us three, chatting away, merrily breaking the silence of the night.
Faraway, little prayers lay afloat on the water. The winds must have brought the diyas away from the Ghaats, I thought to myself. From where I sat, they looked like fireflies prancing and dancing, making magical formations. Two wine bottles later, the arched frames began to glisten. Like a baby’s belly after a nice meal, the moon seemed fuller and fatter than ever. It tiptoed slowly from behind the hills and made its way into the heart of the sky. It rose higher in the sky with each fleeting moment. We froze.
And it was in that hushed moment, the soul of the lake lit up with two moons; one in the midnight blue of the sky, the other in the midnight grey of the lake. A shimmer lay over The Pichola. Like a hex, the same silent shimmer had slunk over the lake, crept over the royal pavilions, crouched through the rustic streets, and climbed the walls to reach my hands strumming the ukulele.
The sight from the window of the Mewar Haveli was beyond mesmerising. It was like white-out in darkness. With a mysterious halo around its ivory skin, the moon had the three of us bewitched. The clouds pirouetted around it and we just sat there, gazing into the sight, without a word. Just like the night, our conversations had fallen silent now. Chin in my palms, elbows on the sill, I tried to seize the picture perfect moment. I ogled at it for as long as I could, as if casting a spell to make it stay. But it had already begun its supple but swift descent, leaving its twinkling friends to our company.
Back in the city, I look up at the sky from my bedroom window. There is no moon tonight. There are no twinkling friends. But there is a view. One of the glowing moon and its dramatic ascent that went over the hills, skimmed through the lake, to make it to my eyes.
Here are some more pictures from the trip: