Many things in life come unexpected, as did the COVID-19 pandemic. The highs of life suddenly turn into lows and everyday events seem to become hard to deal with. During such phases, the present time slows down and one goes back to thinking about their past. As clichéd as it may sound, one eventually finds the light at the end of the tunnel.
During a similar time, Stuti Changle’s protagonist in Where the Sun Never Sets, comes to terms with her past that she has been running away from. Read an excerpt from the book to get a glimpse of Changle’s protagonist’s thoughts penned down in her diary.
Today felt just like every day is going to feel in my lockdown life.
Once upon a time, it rained for hours, just like it rained today, heavily, unendingly, unstoppably. Rain might wash the physical world, but with it, washed-out memories resurface. Rains deepen the colours of your surroundings as if you’ve unknowingly switched to 4K HD mode. It also deepens the colours in your mind, unlocking the deepest of desires.
Rain is powerful indeed. And what does rain remind you of? The rain reminded me of the onion fritters Mom would deep fry until they were golden and crisp. The mere thought lit up my face, filling my mouth with water. I closed my eyes for a moment, imagining the crisp fritters between my teeth, chewing them with a crunch. Nishit, my ex-boyfriend, would often give me company. He would also tell me that peacocks teach you to dance your sorrows away in the rain.
The rain also reminded me of masala chai, the kind my landlady prepares in Gurgaon, with ginger, lemongrass and basil leaves added in generous amounts. She is the kind of bitch who calls you up to catch up and when you do so, she gives you a list of things you need to get repaired at your own expense.
She keeps reminding me that I am an orphan and it’s her responsibility to bully me to make me stronger. She believes that my parents would have done the same. She also feels that my elder sister is a bitch to have abandoned me. When I am engaged in bitter conversations with her, masala tea is my guru who preaches finding goodness in everything.
I requested Shyamala Aunty to prepare masala tea and fritters in the morning. I gave her very specific instructions. These days of lockdown have to be the perfect time for me to finish the movie script.
But where to start? Why can’t you talk, my diary?
I entered my attic-style bedroom to start writing the script. I had asked Shyamala Aunty to set up my desk in front of the huge window that overlooks the beautiful Mussoorie hills. It’s going to be a long lockdown after all.
I watched some YouTube videos by Tibetan Zen masters. They say that one must prepare well before a new project. Some changes are necessary while some are not as important. But the room where you engage in creative work has to be organized.
Considering the lockdown situation, all I can say is that it is one of the most unpredictable times. Of course, things will change sooner or later. They must. That’s the hope, and we hang on to it.
But I don’t know how much peace organizing my room will bring me when the world is in chaos.
‘Relax. Focus. Concentrate. Yes. Harder,’ I told myself. ‘Write a few words at a time. Bricks build
castles. And castles stand for ages and inspire people for many years to come,’ I murmured.
I sat at my desk wondering if all the days were going to be the same here. You watch the sunrise. The sunset. Sunrise. Sunset. Yet you feel you’re stationary. ‘The sunrise. The sunset,’ I murmured as I had still not written a single word. I put my pen aside.
‘Time never really moves here. That’s the beauty of time in small towns,’ Shyamala Aunty said, breaking my reverie. I hadn’t realized she had entered the room. She sneaks in whenever she likes, and I have hated it since my teenage years.
She continued to mop the floor with a magic mop, even as its engineering was beyond her comprehension. It reminded me of my arguments with Dad, who often said, ‘It is important for everyone to understand mathematics to be able to lead a good life.’
I would always tell him, ‘It is not important to understand an airplane’s engineering to be able to travel in it. You could be a layman and still live a happy life.’
To know what happens next, get a copy of Where the Sun Never Sets from your nearest bookstores or online.