POSTCARD #223: New Delhi: Awake at 3.30 am here in our place next to the park, soft warm air oxygenated by trees, and the silence of birds asleep among the branches. Then breakfast with Jiab who is leaving on an early flight to Odisha, ceiling fans, coffee and bagels in the electric light of night, darkness filling the wide-open windows facing the park. Mosquito mesh screens are all there is to prevent the outside world from entering the inside world where we are engaged in the normal breakfasting activity. It’s as if it were a dream, ‘clink’ of knife on plate, coffee spoon in cup… ‘ting’.
In a huge noise of arrival, the taxi is suddenly here; a great blaze of color and light. Back door unhinges, bags inside, bye-bye, door slam, sound of engine and Jiab is gone into the blackness… sound receding and I’m left alone to contemplate the silence.
Feeling more at ease these days, due to improved pain meds, able to move with some comfort but getting up and sitting down again is a problem so I stay in the same position pretty much, and think about what I’m going to do before doing it.
I return to the breakfast table, fall into a kind of passive reflective awareness of the body and its fractured structure. The default is to equate blackness with negativity, pain with guilt – but watching the breath entering and leaving, I find I can be focused quite easily on the alarming ‘clunk’ sound of bone halfway through the in-breath as the broken ribs adjust with the swelling of lungs… slowly coming to terms with the small panic that arises sometimes.
The X-ray clearly showed two ribs broken and dislocated, frightening enough and yet a comfort to know the reason for the disquiet – the things-not-being-quite-right feeling. Human beings are such enduringly fragile creatures, held together with sinews joining muscle to bone that just calcifies and mends itself. The contemplation of it fits with everything I’ve come to accept here, resident in Asia more than thirty years – innovative ideas held together with bamboo, string and rubber bands. Nothing is permanent, exists for as long as needed then relinquished and gone…
The ghosts that rise out of the night are always the crows, unseen and heard before first light – they must have night vision – fearsome unloved creatures present in the last vestiges of night. For this short time, the crows own the world, and then light breaks through. A few twitters and it comes into consciousness like a wave floods everything. A birdsong extravaganza, surfing on the edge of dawn – the totality of it may be a sound-realm on a frequency only birds are aware of.
A few hours later, ‘ping’ a text message from Jiab in Odisha, nearly a thousand miles away. Daylight is established and it is undeniably day. Everything that went before is forgotten.
“Temporality temporalizes as a future which makes present in the process of having been.” [Martin Heidegger]