first light

img_3224bPOSTCARD #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]


30 thoughts on “first light

  1. I’ve just watched the dawn go up in slow flames over a field full of sleeping cows with a joyous dog whose routing defines my morning… and ‘created’ instant dawn in the aquarium by switching on the lights. The fish don’t sleep, but their activity is different once the lights go on. Full of expectation, waiting for breakfast.

    • Thanks Karin, I find I can’t really look forward to it healing when every minute there’s an ongoing situation, maybe an attitude I’ve learned in coping with the headache. This is not to say I feel an inner strength, it’s very much up and down and coping with strong painkillers.

  2. “held together with bamboo, string and rubber bands. Nothing is permanent, exists for as long as needed then relinquished and gone…” loved that. A perfectly ‘thinned’ down life. I hope the ribs heal, soon.

    • The bare essentials of how things function, possible in a climate that is mostly soft and without wind. Then a storm arrives, devastates everything but because it’s all so simply made, it can be reconstructed again

  3. Funny how “everything that went before is forgotten”. I try to etch it in my memory for the future when Tom may be no more. But it is like a ball and chain and my efforts fail. Lovely post. I can hear the sounds at,3 AM and see the riot of color of the taxi. Feel better, El

    • Thanks Ellen, it is a strange experience how the night disappears with the morning. I have to consciously try to remember but as you say it’s not possible, reminded that there is no past other than the act of remembering which happens in present time. The arrival of the taxi was like a visitor from another universe…

  4. Lovely writing, Tiramit. I particularly loved the surfacing of dawn through the consciousness of birds, which I think is almost universal. I love the way the various stages of the day are signaled by life itself. Sorry to hear of the ribs but it must be a relief to feel as though you understand better what is happening. It is amazing when I am in pain, how much difference it makes to think I have an idea of what is happening. Which of course I do not, but it helps anyway! Ha!

    Wishing you peace and healing, and time with the friends and the warmth of the natural world.

    • Thanks for these kind thoughts Michael. I’m feeling v much better since I wrote the post, and the relief from pain allows a returning to this deep sense of a totality of awareness within which I am contained and also the awareness of this is contained. In this way the various stages of the day are signaled by life itself, as you say, wonderful…

  5. Your narrative takes one to the early morning with all the senses and sounds Tiramit. I was pleased to read you are healing and are more comfortable than you were.
    And yes its amazing while all of that narrative was taking place Jiab had travelled all those miles..
    Have a wonderful week.

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