I have been star-struck for as long as I can remember. No, not by the famous people, or fame itself; but by the celestial objects of the universe. I have had a fascination for sky watching; especially the morning and evening/night sky in the best of their splendour. As a kid I would spend hours gazing at the night sky, sometimes even trying to count as many stars as I could. It was a pastime of sorts. Then as I grew up, I would wait with bated breath for the splendid evening star, Venus to make a comeback around twilight. (For the uninitiated Venus is a planet but known as the evening star.) When I was at the college hostel, we would walk to the dining hall for our early evening supper. Around 6:30 P.M., the hour of dusk, Venus would be sparkling it’s bright, dazzling light upon us. I’d heard somewhere that Venus was also a wishing star. So right at that moment I would gaze at Venus, and with my heart and soul wish for a tall, fair and handsome man to spend the rest of my life with. Funnily enough it was a wish that was eventually granted!
Back when I was growing up, we lived in the lap of nature, in a University campus. It was like living by the countryside, where clear skies are never an exception, except of course on cloudy days. I remember going to Bhattacharya Uncle-Aunty’s place on one spring evening. We sat outdoors and while my folks and Uncle-Aunty chatted the evening away, I sat on the wicker chair gazing at the star-spangled sky. The sheer brilliance with which millions of celestial bodies illuminated the sky was magical in itself. I scanned the sky for the Saptarishi or the Great Bear/Ursa Major constellation and other such constellations.
A night sky that is a visual treat is almost non-existent in the city we live. The glare of the metropolis lights and sinister smog allow little scope for sky watching especially in the nights. So we look forward to a clear night sky, dotted with a million stars and celestial bodies when we travel. Fortunately the moon makes its grand presence felt even in our metropolis. It is a delight to watch it in its various hues and shapes with each passing day. A full moon and a very slender, perfect crescent moon is my favourite. Though a moon isn’t a star. neither is it a planet, but it doesn’t fail to enamour me with its beauty.
Early this year we were on a holiday to Chambal, near Agra in Uttar Pradesh, India. We had the privilege of sighting wide varieties of wildlife. The cherry on the cake was the stunning night sky, which unfailingly adorned the property every single night. Each night, after a sumptuous meal we would head back to the cottage, peering at the night sky, through the thickets of ancient trees and the silhouettes of their leaves. There was a little backyard attached to the cottage where we were staying. The backyard had a tiny charpoy (a bed used especially in India consisting of a frame strung with light rope). We would all squeeze into that little charpoy – all three of us (the DH, the 9-year-old and I) and lie on our backs; our eyes fixated at the surreal beauty of the night sky. The DH would point out to the various planets and stars in the sky, while the 9 year-old would gape in complete amazement. We would keep lying there till the mosquitos would start buzzing around our ears, making a complete nuisance of themselves; and also till sleep would prod us back to our beds.
Stacked away in my precious memory box are these little anecdotes around the beauty of night sky, dotted with a million mystical stars. I wish upon these stars that their their innumerable impressions continue to fill my precious box, as I travel far and wide, exploring these awe-inspiring wonders of the night sky.