“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop” – Rumi
The swaying branches of the tamarind tree cradled the setting golden ball of fire as it descended
to disappear among the ripe fruits tinged with sourness. Shifting my gaze from the digital screen
popping the end slide of a hour-long presentation, I got up to run to my favourite spot in the
house to witness the fiery sky transforming into a calm moonlit wonder. An everyday spectacle
from my humble balcony as the peach glow at the horizon dissolves into a slightly haunting
purple evening hue.
This balcony was not a significant site in my life before the pandemic started. It’s importance
was mundane as a spot for drying clothes. But as restraint was placed on movement outdoors, the
places to retreat at home itself remained few. When I first sought comfort away from the loud
headlines of peaking cases, this balcony came to the aid as a mental escape. Whenever I missed
my doting grandmother who would lovingly ruffle my hair in her lap, the feeling would
immediately be followed up by placing a call. The phone call to another city would soon turn
into an hour long conversation of warmth all while excitedly pacing around in the narrow
balcony. Wishfully imagining her soft strokes of palm on my head as if I were that little lively
grandchild again in such uncertain times.
When any memory of an incident back on campus reminded of friends, the screens would soon
be lit up with their beaming faces as group conferences were held virtually in the backdrop of the
loyal balcony. When a tragedy of death struck in the family or we were left grieving for a close
one in the emergency department, It was here that I got introspective, accepted the harsh truths
that arrived and released my unfathomably intense emotions to the breeze.
The connected narrow platform and arched pillars also remind me of my grandfather who I have
fond memories of. He had crafted the house’s design and ensconced this balcony in such a way
that there was always a terrific view of the night sky, lush tamarind trees, and the lane of the
small street in front. The power cuts here were hence more of an opportunity to explore the
nuances of photographing the tiny landscapes present in the town and scrutinizing the everyday
lives of humans passing through the street in front.
Children of the street who were previously glued to their schools resorted to discovering and
being enthralled by puppies, marbles, and board games with their neighbours. The bells of the ice-cream seller’s tricycle were deafeningly quiet due to faint cravings in the customers with melted pockets. Around two to three homemakers would meet up once in a while to exchange or share
their resources and continue to chatter about pleas and struggles happening at their place. The husbands would be seen hurrying to pick up daily supplies before the clock struck the shops shut.
The elderly would leisurely flaunt their storytelling skills to their grandchildren with wide eyes, dynamic tones and sharp expressions.
The balcony didn’t serve merely for sightseeing though, the seemingly serene realm of space
allowed one to engage in listening to music in unfamiliar new languages. Some from the global
radio while some from the nature around. It helped in expressing my angst to the recent best
friend made ; our beloved, ever gleaming moon. Who appeared every fortnight to listen to all of
it when there was a definite need to be heard without judgment.
Tiny birds were observed tweeting away as they glided across the shape-shifting clouds. Furious
winds and blazing thunder would soften into the sweet smell of petrichor followed by a drizzle of
gem-like heavy raindrops ornamenting the crown of the balcony’s walls. There would be times I
would inquisitively wonder if trees ever desired to fly or if cats ever wanted to be flowers.
Hearing no purr or swaying of the leaves in response, I instead lost myself in fantasies about
unexpected romance and love. Sometimes all thoughts would be surrendered to the mighty
cosmos for just flowing in silence.
The pandemic unlocked the potential of this 4 meters of a dear balcony to transform into a portal
for exploring the hidden consciousness and imagination within. A sacred space without which I
wouldn’t have survived emotionally during the pandemic. A spot I am eternally grateful for and
appreciate how it brought the change in perception to sail through an uncertain period. A place
where external chaos, identity, and attachments were freed. A metaphor for realising the mindset
of finding bliss in the infinity of each moment, whether big or small, whether in an epic
adventure or in a mundane activity, whether in the ocean of this entire universe or in the human
drop upon this tiny balcony.
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Written by: Swetha Rani, Fourth Year MBBS,Gandhi medical college