In That Pursuit We Ignore Small Things


By Shuja Malik

Dal Lake, Srinagar. Photo: Fahad Shah

Nature offers countless things to revel in. I talk of the things we can relish aesthetically or appreciate the beauty of their occurrence. Sunrises, sunsets, full moons, crescents, scenic beauties, flowing rivers, sea waves, glaciers, hot springs, rainfall and snowfall, the sounds that snowfall generates, the blizzards, the snow storms, green fields, scenes inside the world of a nest, making of a nest, view of a suckling calf, animals moving in herds and even we take pleasure in watching a lion or other beast pouncing on its prey (for Animal Planet fans). The more we try to view nature keenly, the more we discover to appreciate and think about. Some nature lovers cross continents, go into unexplored waters and lands. My obsessive fascination has been with the arrival of dawn; one that comes at the ‘cheap’ cost of sleep.

For me this arrival signifies many things, most important of which is the triumph of white (justice) over darkness. It can be argued that dusk brings darkness which overpowers light. But we try to defeat that apparent victory of darkness. Birds move into their nests and animals move into their burrows, dens or sheds. And we human beings try to win over this darkness by creating artificial light and minimize the impact of this darkness at least for a certain period of time. We (un)welcome dusk by switching on the lights. On the other hand, dawn penetrates into our lives unknowingly and when we see its arrival, we make a new beginning; at the very least, of a new day.

Each day at dawn, I try to discover something new. I always look into the sky, look around to look for reasons to cement my love for it. The best moments in love-lives always come as surprises and the same happened today morning. My eyes captured the best scenes of the day till now. I was driving, so I wasn’t focusing on the onset of the morning presuming it to be one I had explored enough. But real beauty danced before my eyes. The headlights of my car became irrelevant and in a fraction of a second I could see things afar that were till then invisible. It would have been that last ray of sunlight that made it effective. The proverbial weakest link of the chain that brings complete strength. I was left awe struck. And it filled me with a different energy. My day took a turn as if dawn had brought something different for me.

With the additional unadulterated energy from this special breakfast I reached my workplace literally dancing. Had to go from my building to the adjoining building through an over-bridge, called a ‘tunnel’, but is not a tunnel according to engineering parlance. As soon I entered this ‘tunnel’ my eyes fell on a girl who was walking with the help of walking aids. This walking aid seemed unusual to me because it had two wheels in the front which usually are not the aids for those who need support for physical disability. So by the time I was walking beside and then in front of her I realized that this aid was for visual disability. Usually in this part of the world for convenience of a certain section of population all the entrances have electrically run doors that remain open for a long time so one doesn’t have to push or hold the door while crossing it. Usually I also wouldn’t have held the door for this girl if we were at a long distance. But we were walking so close that it would have been completely unethical not to hold the door for her. Both of us reached the other end of the tunnel.

There was no seeing-eye dog with her. I slowed down my movements in case she needed some help. And she asked for the directions towards the elevator. Once I guided her up to the elevator she said “now things ‘look’ familiar to me”. With these words something struck me. I never recognized my familiarity with these places or never felt the need to focus on these buildings, the location of the elevator or the hall way leading to the elevator. These words shook me and were enough to take me into a different state. My dancing turned into gentle steps and all of a sudden I felt all energy vanishing out of me. While returning back through that tunnel I looked outside, thought of that girl and tried closing my eyes for a moment (my heart is again racing remembering how I felt that time). I couldn’t dare to! A strange fear had gripped me, what if when I open my eyes I won’t see the sunlight. I tried again and my eyelids refused to cooperate. No my mind, my heart, my feelings, my soul all were in full coordination and eyelids became a way for their expression. There I realized some live in a never ending dusk and it is life to them.

P.S: The more we have the more we want. And in that pursuit we ignore small things that we have been blessed with. Every tiny thing in our life is equally important and we should always recognize and appreciate them.

Shuja Malik is a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Kansas. Feedback at [email protected]

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