“The pain is smart enough to poet out a space, where bruises are verse and rhymes are moans, over and over again.”
Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything
Dharti hai ek,
Aasmaan ek hai.
Phool hain anek,
Baghbaan ek hai.
All the squeaky voices, hushed conversations, and noisy banters were replaced by a mellifluous chorus as I sat down in the back of the classroom. Morning prayers at Laxmi Ashram, as I found out, are always unifying affairs, and down-the-line cheerful and cathartic.
Forty five minutes previous I was tossing Imli toffees in my mouth to prepare myself for the ensuing altitude sickness. I was going to hike to a seven-decade-old, all-girls residential school run on the principles of Gandhi’s Nai Taleem. Established in 1946 by Catherine Mary Beilman or Sarla Behn to empower rural girls and women through education and holistic skill-based learning.
When I reached the Ashram, there were two smiling faces, waiting. Waiting to open me up to a world of simplicity and unity. To show me how empowered and independent young girls go on to become pillars of strength for the rural community.
I was a bit late, thanks to the multiple stops I’d made during the hike. Some girl students were collecting their books while others had already started ascending the stairs to their classroom. I entered the room from the back, and quietly sat on the floor like everybody else. I was soon going to hear them sing a prayer song that would footprint my heart.
I left the place humming a tune of togetherness, and optimism. Of a song that distilled in a few words this beautiful message:
There is one Earth. And it is but one sky that canopies the flowers on its face. The flowers may look different, still there’s but one Gardner who looks after all of them.
When it comes to music, my song picks end with anything that has strong lyrics. A song that marries the sensation it evokes with the emotion it comes from sticks to my playlist for a long time. This may be because of that thing about music – it connects, makes you feel less lonely. So, today I decided to list down a few such songs; I call it my ‘feels playlist’ as it has the power to soothe my melancholy and elevate my joy.
In a dusty corner of a small mezzanine is a scrap of paper scribbled with poetry. Sea Fever by John Masefield – is a friend that is around when it’s hard to sleep. So here goes:
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tideIs a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Every day she hiked up to her favorite spot, twining about the chartreuse green path she knew so well as a child. There she dreamed about all the things she wanted to be. There she waited till the swollen red Sun dived between the hills just like it did in the waves of the sea, in her dreams, that she wished to cross one day. There she lay on her back, staring at the leaden sky that she craved to light up with a million stars one day. There she yodeled, escaping the yokes of a cruel society. There she read her books, and played noughts-and-crosses, always winning against her own self that deviously thwarted her. For a while she forgot the way to her sanctum, only to return one day—to a sky clear and solitary, and a day full of possibility.