Last Sunday we set the clock back one hour. The end of daylight savings time is a sure sign of the arrival of autumn. Even though there is still the occasional day where the sun feels warm on my skin, the chill has definitely arrived. The days are getting cold. The nights colder.
But it is
the darkness I dread.
remedies for cold and wet. But none for the darkness that seems to escape its
prison deep in the confines of my heart, and spread out, threatening to extend
the night indefinitely. Suddenly all about me, I see the shadow that I carry locked away inside me. And I feel it
within and without.
And all the lights, become mere ephemeral spots of joy in the gloom. My Sunday blues, it seems, just got darker.
Gaustatoppen, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in Norway, towers above the town of Rjukan at an altitude of 1883 meters (6178 feet). The views from the top, as well as along the route, are stunning, and on a clear day, hikers can see one sixth of Norway from the summit!
The mountain is a popular destination for Norwegians, something I got to experience a few weeks ago. There was a constant stream of people all along the route. So many that there was a queue.
Many parents had brought their children along, the youngest ones walking, only three or four years old. Many of the children were crying and begging their parents to be carried, or simply refusing to go on. Most of the parents were ignoring their cries and telling them to keep going. This is something they simply had to do, and crying or yelling would definitely not help!
So en route to the summit of Gaustatoppen, with a backdrop of majestic Norwegian mountains, I got to witness the meticulous efforts of some parents to transfer what they believe to be core Norwegian values to the next generation. It was interesting to see how parents will always choose what they think is best for their children, no matter how much the little ones oppose.
Why do you write sad things? he asked. When I am here, when I love you.
Because someday, in one way or another, you will be taken from me or I you. It is inevitable. But please understand; from the moment I met you, I stopped writing for the past. I no longer write for the present. When I write sad things, I am writing for the future.
When your hand is in my hands,
when my words are in your words,
we could get lost just walking like that.
When your breath is in my breath,
and solitude is close to us,
I put my head on your shoulder and fall asleep.
I wake up in your love,
and win by losing to you.
When you get upset, I sing to conciliate you.
My breath is complete with you,
without you there is no fulfillment.
You are my love, with you the season turns to spring.
When you are here I am at peace,
and when you are not, I despair.
My love, just tell me what more to say to you, what do you want to hear?
Everything could keep going on like this,
we keep meeting this way,
but this will only happen when you’re here.
When you’re here.
(Original in urdu by Ali Zafar from his Album Masti)
As I am praying alone in my bedroom, the electricity suddenly goes out. Complete darkness. I cannot even see my feet where I am standing. I continue to pray, in utter darkness. A distant generator starts up. A dog is barking far away. The occasional car or truck passes by on the road just in front of the house.
I finish my prayer and just sit quietly on the prayer rug. It is warm, must be over 30°C in the room, more likely closer to 35. The darkness feels suffocating, and at the same time strangely calming. I know my way around the room. And I know my mobile phone is on the bedside table. It is charged so I can turn on the flashlight app. Still, a strange kind of panic is floating just below the surface of my heart. Suffocating. I need to get out!
I walk upstairs to the roof. Electricity is back, and I see lights in the buildings across the road from our house. The evening is clear, and a gentle breeze makes the weather just perfect to be outside. It is quiet but for the occasional vehicle driving past the house.
The sun is setting and the partly overcast sky shows a graduation from deep blue to orange. Beyond the houses across the road I see green fields stretching out into the hazy horizon. This calm and fresh evening is my last here in Jalalpur Jattan before I head back to Norway. A perfect evening setting the scene for a sad goodbye. And I wonder when I get to see this sight again.