That last old solitary rock that sits since ages on that rough mountain-edge, under the dancing shade of the old trees of wild Saal, yes, I stood there once – one magical, golden, lazy autumn afternoon – years back, watching the immensity, the unspeakable eternity of quietness that rose from the deep, uninhabited, silent vale below, I stood there once, hearing the sad autumnal music of the wild gusts of the wind in the deep, murmuring, shady woods around. I post here a photo of that spot:That moment – that eternity – still lives in me, and with it lives that golden autumn afternoon. I still remember the sadness, the feeling of loss, the pain that had been weighing heavy upon my heart, as I stood hearing the wind that played with my hair as I watched that that dim, deserted, mysterious temple on a far faraway hill top – the only memento in those uninhabited forests, of a human journey made to that rough height. Someone heartbroken, or someone in quest of life, some kind of hermit, seeking to know the mysteries of life, must have made it his abode, faraway from the human world. And then, one day, he must have breathed his last and left his body to cultivate those Saal trees over there that seemed to tell the wind many a tales in those restful, hushed, unhurried hours of autumn afternoon . . .
I have so many memories associated with autumn – it has always been my season, the season I was born and the season when, I always feel, after perilous ups and downs and crushing defeats, I am reborn. Yes, I have chosen for myself a life that is full of difficult and arduous battles. I have chosen to battle against time that is robbing us of all things beautiful and harmonious. And this battle is, as you can yourself understand, bound to be full of heartbreaks and saddening affairs. Yes, it is true, this battle is very painful, unbearable, and very crushing at times; but it is equally true, that I cannot live without them, I cannot live without fighting – to save things that I have learned to love and respect.
That was Pachmarhi – a beautiful hilly retreat, far far away ‘from the maddening crowd’, lost in the densely forested Satpura mountain ranges that divide India into two. Satpura – a name that itself carries a kind of magic – is the forest of the sweetest humming birds and wildest singing leaves; its unreachable depths still have the earliest imprints left by man thousands of years ago, its bosom still holds the first dreams and the first aspirations of man.
That last cracked rock, held back firmly by gnarled roots of Peepal, and that kind, blue, vast sky high above where restful eagles soared, and those inviting sunbathed autumnal hills and deep forests below, the wild-wild wind that seemed to tell many a tales of the old saal trees that stood half lost in a brown sea of falling leaves – I can still see them, feel them, smell them all as I sit thousands of miles away, in my verandah, watching for the first signs of fall in my garden, which has a memento of the Satpura jungles planted in a little pot. Yes, I stole that afternoon a part of the Satpura – its soil and sky, its rocks and roots, its leaves and tales, to remind me for the rest of my life – of an autumn that I shall never forget. And whenever I touch its leaves, its roots, I touch a time I have left far behind – forever.There is so much my heart craves for – for things that have gone amiss completely, things that our century has lost. When I look back, I find a childhood and a youth – disappeared and unapproachable. Have I lost it forever? Have I myself become a part of that unclean, “grownup” world with which I could never identify myself? And a few more days, and my life would be over too, with all the dreams unrealized, unfulfilled, unlived . . .
And all those sad tales of a life that went too fast, all those tearful elegies in memory of my dearest ones, lost and carried away by time (yes, I confess, I could not learn to live without them; yes, I confess, I could never grow up, I am at heart still the little girl I was), all those requiems to time – I don’t want to talk about them, they have always been my companions. I stood with a sad heart that autumn afternoon, with my heart full, full of them – full of life, full of sadness, full of so many complaints. And then that lone autumn wind said to me, “my child, let it go! Only this passing, fleeting moment of beauty is true, hold on to it. This moment here shall live inside you for eternity, keep it safe, and pass it on, before you breathe your last!”(note: This is the second part of a series of posts on autumn in India. Wait for the next, which will be about how my home and city greet autumn. Thanks for appreciating the first post, this is the link to it: https://chitraraag.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/afternoons-have-become-thicker-like-a-big-spoonful-of-sun-dissolved-in-a-glass-of-water/
All photographs in this post are my treasured memories of the beautiful Pachmarhi hills I visited years back.
And yes . . . I would love to here from you how autumn is doing in your part of the world. Do feel free to drop in your comments and experiences.)