“A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever”

A cliff so high, you could touch the sun if you stood on your toes and stretched your hands, your back, and your neck too, a little perhaps? The clouds come and sit by your side, right on the edge where you are, sometimes engulfing you so entirely in an embrace that when they let go you’d be damp, soaked and shivery; but then you’d also know magic, after all how many of ye mortals have hugged a cloud? The wind that blows, there, on the cliff top, smells of Pine trees, of moss that has generously dressed the rocks in your vicinity, of tea that grows on the undulating hills, clothing each side in a seductive shade of mint. The air brings with it promise, hopes and while the it only fills your lungs, its magic extends to your brains, weaving magnificent tapestries in colourful threads, letting your imagination swim, dive deeper into the ocean and then rise up like a dolphin kissing the vermillion sun, scandalously rather, before diving deeper yet into the salty sea spread out as far as your eyes can measure. You sit there, for minutes and hours at a stretch, drinking in every colour, every sway of the world that lays out in front of you, what more would you want from life? Yet you know that somewhere far off, brothers kill brothers, sisters shed tears for a myriad of reasons, the mothers choke on memories from happier times and fathers look out, listlessly into the distance. Echoes of the past hit them, like the high tide on a no-moon’s night- darkness, smoke, the smell of rust, of blood, all intertwined, every bit of your being telling you to run away, but where to?

You look down in shame, in disgust, seeking newer beauties, and you see a stream, snaking its way through the mountains, blue like azure, like royalty, greeting every boulder enroute, like friendly seamen back from a long voyage.

‘Where to?’ The mountains ask you. The sunlight on your eyelashes flirt with your vision. You are here, safe on the cliff you realise. You acknowledge the silence, and with it the sound of your heart pumping blood into your veins. You can hear the air you inhale and exhale. ‘The day you find comfort in silence, is the day you have learnt to truly love yourself’. Who said that, you wonder? Was it the old man with cataract who lived down your lane? Or was it that old lady who had a million cats and found the time to name and bell each of them? Someone you read perhaps? Or is it you, realising this secret you’d known from forever? Well, you shall never know, and in ignorance lies bliss. You stare out hence, into the distance and smile, you ripple with laughter, and you know that nothing can harm you in this moment, in your happy place. You yell ‘To the Stars, my friend, to the Stars’. The valley repeats the same in approval.

You stand up, take one step at a time- backwards, one, two, three, many. You waltz like the leaves swaying in the wind, and then you run forwards, a flash of lightning, you dive: FREEDOM! As you hit the cold water of the brook below you know you are home, at last! And you drink, very drop that reaches your lips and silent agree that ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’.

– Nilanjanaa Bhattacharjee

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