Monday, November 07, 2005


The taxi was ancient, but the town was small. When the bumps increased, I opened my eyes. To have slept and that too in a ramshackle taxi was nothing but a miracle.

I have been an insomniac for as long as I remember… Insomniac! How I hate that word! Lack of sleep is not a disease. It simply means that my body does not require as much sleep as you or him or her. I admit it gets a bit lonely sometimes, when the whole house is sleeping and you don’t like to watch the sleazy late night fare on television. I do confess to have watched the sci-fi channel all night at one time, but watching ‘Biker Chicks in Zombie Town’ and ‘Star Trek V-- The Wrath of Khan’ (or was it IV?)… that seems like another lifetime. Now I wander about the quiet house, listening to the night sounds.

It is a strange kind of pleasure in listening to the contented breaths of husband and children. Deep and even and relaxed. You become a good listener when you’re wandering about the house late at night. And I’ve had practice. At first I used to read. But then if reading can be done by day, is there not better use of time? There must be something else these hours were made for.

I discovered that when I stepped out on the deck one stifling evening and stretched. I had stepped out into the meteor showers in Leo. I looked around. All of Vashon island was asleep. Even the lights in the ferry pier were low. Something inside me told me that the universe had put up this show for only me. Yes, yes, the astronomers would be watching too, but who wants to be practical or grammatically correct under such a celestial show?

Ever since that night, I am compelled to listen to the stars. Nopes, this is no typo. I did say listen. Many messages are lost if you sleep the night away. And you will never get stardust in your eyes either. But I digress too much.

Sleeping in a rickety taxi then was something unthinkable. Maybe it was meant to be…like those comic books where the hero is taken to the den of the evil one blindfolded…maybe I was not supposed to know the way to the monastery because I was not supposed to go back.

But why were we stopping? Were we there? If we were, where was the entrance? I had imagined an entrance. There must be an entrance! Had the engine finally given up? Or did he need a loo break? The voice in my head was sounding like a television show host enticing people to come back for the next episode.

So I did what one needed to, next. I made a huge theatrical gesture, and asked in simple English, “What?!”

It was the grin that could break a thousand mirrors. He stepped out of the cab, making it necessary for me to do the same. Then with as much enthusiasm for theatrics as I had shown not a minute before, he pointed to the road ahead.

There was no way a cab could pass, or a camel. The road had become so narrow. Before I could exclaim coherently, I saw that he had dumped my backpack on the road, and was scratching his palm telling me I needed to pay my fare.

Maybe sleep had put that stupid ‘just woke up and my neurons are not connected yet’ look on my face, but he smiled again and pointed skywards, and I followed his finger.

I could see the monastery, perched precariously on the top of the hill.

Automatically, I dug in my pocket for the one and only five hundred rupee note in my wallet. He took it, but looked at me, wondering if I would change my mind and go back. But he saw me fling my empty wallet, and knew I was not going to change my mind. He shrugged his shoulders, and made the most amazing three point reverse turn on the narrow road and left me coughing in the dust.

I sat down on my backpack. My legs would not support me. I looked around at the mountainside. Wondered, how long the trek up to the monastery would take me.


Blogger Jyotsna said...

Hi,I dropped by here from Asmita's blog.
Enjoyed reading this and i fully agree with ,"Many messages are lost if you sleep the night away...."! Very true!

7:25 AM  

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