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Sunset boulevard | Sweet memories of my sunrise years

As a child, I woke up to the musical call of the cockerel, the rhythmic splash of churning of milk and the chirping of sparrows perched on the mulberry tree in our courtyard. The aroma of the home-made curd and butter made one’s mouth water. But before one could relish this nourishing food, one had to go to the open fields to answer the call of nature.

punjab Updated: May 07, 2017 18:14 IST
Amarjit Singh Hayer
Amarjit Singh Hayer
Hindustan Times
Guest column,Sunset boulevard,Sunday read
(HT Representative Image)

Living in a city in my sunset years, I yearn for the sight, sound and smell of my sunrise years in a village. The claustrophobic crowded spaces of the city scare me, the cacophony of its market places gets on my nerves and the stink of its garbage dumps nauseates me. To obliterate these unpleasant feelings, I close my eyes, block my nostrils and plug my ears but open the mental windows to let the old memories elevate my mood.

As a child, I woke up to the musical call of the cockerel, the rhythmic splash of churning of milk and the chirping of sparrows perched on the mulberry tree in our courtyard. The aroma of the home-made curd and butter made one’s mouth water. But before one could relish this nourishing food, one had to go to the open fields to answer the call of nature.

The rays of the rising sun spread redness in the sky, which was a joy to watch. In our Urdu textbook was Allama Iqbal’s translation of Sanskrit hymn Gayatri.

Ai aftaab! Rooh-o-rawan-e-jahan hai tu, sheeraiga band-e-daftar-ekaun-omakan hai tu, Ai aftaab! Humko zia-e-shaoor de, Chashm-ekhirad ko apni tajalli se noor de (O sun! You are the moving spirit of all we see, organiser of the show, controlling each activity, grant us the light of wisdom, O thou light supreme, ignite the flame of reason with your bright beam)

Saying this prayer bequeathed to us by our ancient sages was the best way to begin one’s day.

Our school teacher had told us that at sunrise, the air contains more ozone, so closing one’s eyes and opening one’s mouth, one should inhale it and let the sunrays in to disinfect the throat. The wisdom of the Gayatri

Mantra and the advice of the teacher, enlightened the mind and invigorated the body.

The cooing of the doves, the singing of‘ sahbhan teri qudrat’ by black partridges, the sound of peacocks was the heavenly symphony pleasing to the ears and soothing the mind. One felt in tune with birds and in harmony with the natural scene. One felt inspired and energised to do the day’s tasks enthusiastically.

After the day’s work was done, lying on a cot on the roof, one gazed at the distant stars and envisioned golden dreams of the days to come. The magic of the moonlit night caught one’s imagination and one internalised the glow which gladdened the heart. A sufi lived in a dera on the outskirts of our village. The lilting music coming from his flute was the lullaby that induced sweet sleep. At night, one dreamt of fairies about which one read during the day in ‘Tales from Alaf Laila’.

Such childhood memories make me forget the harsh realities of old age in a city. Treasures of heavenly bliss stored in my mind are a perpetual source of joy which cannot be robbed by time.

(ajhehar@gmail.com)

(The writer is a Ludhiana-based retired professor of English)

First Published: May 07, 2017 18:02 IST