New Delhi: Gusty warm winds blow through the trees in the park, rustling the leaves and swishing the branches like the sound of waves breaking on the shore. The pigeons are exhilarated by it, flying over at tremendous speeds past me here sitting on the roof terrace, watching them now swoop up above my head – so actively engaged with the mechanism of flight, it’s as if the movements of their wings and the movement of the air are one and the same thing. A wind like this is energy to the birds; it’s a dance. Flight is an expression of the air displacement itself – flying and the wind – ground level is not the reference point; ‘up’ is not necessarily up and neither is down. I see them caught in rapid flight; a stationary moment in the air, suspended in time and space, then an audible flap of wingtip and change in direction.
This wind buffeting me around, hair whiplash on the forehead and the pages of my notebook suddenly leap and turn over on the spiral binding, fluttering through all my various handwritten notes over the last month. In this way, the wind blows through ‘mind’, stirring memories and things from the past, held for years, and released, they come flooding into present time. Each memory stays as long as it takes to examine, and the fullest extent remembered, like meeting an old friend. Time disappears for how long it takes to tell the story and, towards the end of the memory stream, the space behind is seen shining through, the images become transparent and vanish.
The next memory arrives after a moment, I examine that and it disappears like the others. It goes on like this, a collection of things from long ago and far away. Allowing thoughts to go by, unheld, uncaught – the opposite of catching fish; consciously unhooking fish-thoughts caught in the mind at some earlier time; letting them go free and they swim away. Memory stream moves from one moment to the next and I can’t actually see these moments… is this it? Is this the next moment? Is this it, now? Can’t be measured like that; just the circumstance itself; the situations and occurrences follow one another – not a sequence in time, it’s dependent on the nature of the events, there’s a linking that groups them together like coloured beads strung on a necklace.
Going back to Thailand tomorrow where it’ll be hotter than a locked laundromat dryer. Ah well, better go pack my bag now and… has the next moment arrived yet? The mental images and fragments have reformed themselves in the endless stream of things? Can we say, possibly, yes, this is, actually the next moment? If so, I must have missed it, everything seems like it’s in the past again…
[Includes excerpts from: Birds on the Balcony 4]