A melancholic autumn and my reflections on life

As the body goes through its motions, the mind drifts along like an unstrung kite on a cloudy November afternoon.

 |  Tarar Square  |  5-minute read |   27-09-2015
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As the long scorching summer slowly, almost painfully, slides into the balmy arms of the shadowy, short-lived autumn, leaves like thoughts curl under the comfortable shade of an old, bending willow. The colours of autumn reveal themselves gingerly, like the languid waltz at the end of a wedding reception, as the music matches the heartbeats that are only audible to those holding one another close. Leaves falling like light, wispy flakes of snow at dawn, the splendour of their hues hides their melancholy so elegantly it beckons like an illusion. Magenta leaves kiss the trembling ones goodbye, wistfully turning black, while the emerald green of the still lustrous leaves peer imperiously at the fallen ones turned blue as they touch the ground with a swirling sigh.

Soundlessly, leaves of the canopied willow sway to their fate, falling, like hope from the eyes of a damsel bidding her beloved adieu. As some float away from the tree, the others remain close as if refusing to part, wordlessly adamant to stay attached. The growing heap around the willow encircles it as if in the parting hug of a loved one. The soft breeze, lilting as a lullaby, whispers tales of love, of separation, of longing, of things coming to an end. When the night unfurls its dark, velvety cloak, stars gaze out like a shy child hiding behind his grandmother, moonlight circles halos on the darkened foliage, and the sleeping branches, arching lightly, groan under their leafy weight.

Just like life. As one today effortlessly melts into the yesterday, in a moody indifference to the tomorrow. As the body goes through its motions, the mind drifts along like an unstrung kite on a cloudy November afternoon. There is a murmur within watching life rush past as if in a hurry to catch the last bus of the day. Hopes leave, entwining fingers with desires that remain unfulfilled. There is stony noiselessness watching the dusk merge with the darkness to hide within a few uneasy hours until another dawn melts into a bright new day. Camouflaged under misty lashes, and tired lids, eyes are shut tightly, keeping the sunlight and the truth away. Just another day. Life like a merciless schoolmaster orders the day to stand in submission while time continues its bored, expressionless dance of continuity. Tick tock, tick tock.

Dreams are pushed aside like stray strands of unruly hair off a beautiful siren's haughty brow. There is another day, more time. Dreams put on snooze, the exasperated hand pushing it down whenever it raises an alarm. Wishes are deemed an unwanted emotion not to be taken seriously. The humdrum, diurnal routine of another dull day overshadows the sudden urge to take a break, to do as the heart pleases, to sing aloud, to whoop in joy. The smiles, the laughter, the camaraderie, the companionship, the ties, the relationships... intertwined, intricate. Bit by bit, the essence is chipped away, the whole held together by slivers that break one day without any ado. Responsibilities replace relationships, bonds gradually becoming threadbare, and hollow. Love tiptoes out silently, sometimes turning into a storm of ugliness, and rancour, and suspicion and lies before it ebbs, before it settles down to turn it all to debris.

Much that is unsavoury creeps into the mind, taking over the good. Lies, dishonesty, double-games, and pretence shove the simplicity of truth, integrity and uprightness to the side, smug in the easy victory. As life goes on, the negative amalgamates with the positive, making a mishmash of the soul that once existed. In an attempt to find a fine balance to keep the worldly and the personal on a par, time has many tricks up its wily sleeve. The tug-of-war between the conscience and the actions play games with the heart, as the mind finds itself in submission to the easy way out more often than the day changes its colours. The initiation is tiny, however before the realisation even sets in, and sometime it does not before it is too late to backtrack the actions, the rot gnaws on the essence of all that was good and sparkling.

An individual is not an island. An individual is measured in the context of the dynamics of his relationships, his power to affect and influence, and his interactions with others. It starts with the family, and it ends in the death. In between, there is a lifetime of expressions and exchanges on the familial, community, societal, national levels and across borders. Working in a very limited capacity to eke out a bare minimum wage to heading the most important country in the world, all have a role to play, each contribution making its visible or intangible mark on the unquantifiable mosaic of the unwieldy space known as the world. Each act matters. Each act. In the big or small scheme of things. Even when it is thought to be inconsequential.

The words that are mouthed, the promises that are made, the hands that are shaken, the vows that break, the lies that entangle lives, the integrity that inspires, the kindness that touches lives, the cruelty that destroys, the hatred that stains the actions, the goodness of the deeds, the moral, social and religious bigotry, the moral compass, the proclivity to indulge in corrupt means to gain power, the lines that are crossed to retain the power, the bonds that are formed, the conscience that goes silent, the ties that break, the heart that shatters. It is all there, and it all affects. One sliver at time. The thought that one person is insignificant, and the world moves on haughty on its nonchalant axis despite billions giving in to their baser instincts is laughable if the collective aftermath is taken into consideration.

And as I watch the leaves of the unnamed tree outside my window, I wonder. I wonder about the life that has gamboled along its linear motion, as I stood and watched. Still thinking, still dreaming.

Writer

Mehr Tarar Mehr Tarar @mehrtarar

A former op-ed editor of Daily Times, Pakistan, and a freelance columnist.

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