Akshat Shukla is a research scholar in CSJM University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He is working on Ecocriticism for his research thesis. He is a poet and short story writer.
Clustered around the sun were some darkened clouds that were resisting relentlessly the gust of the westerly winds–– It was monsoon, eager to quench the thirst of summers. The ashoka trees that had stood the test of time were wavering as if they had caught the pre-monsoon delirium on account of their overexposure to the rains that had lashed the city a few days ago. The pages of my diary fluttered when the wind kissed their coarse faces. And a pale, folded page caught my sight that was stuck between the pages of my diary whose body was tattooed with my nocturnal scribbling. As I unfolded it, a lonesome raindrop fell on it, and was absorbed in an instant. It was a six-line poem that I had written and forgotten–– as I tried to remember, it dawned on me that it was the very first poem that I had composed as an experiment–– to see whether I was capable of expressing my love for a girl through words or not.
“I never knew
Where love actually was:
Love was a concept for me
Well secured in poems––
I lived and loved
Perhaps, I was not as I realized later, though this poem had meant the world to me at the time, as it was for my first love–– so smitten I was with her delicate beauty. She had haunted my surreal dreams and my placid reality. Somewhere I read that a new poet and a new lover were alike: I had become both–– those juvenile days when falling in and out of love was as easy as it could be. This poem sucked me down the memory lane: Those blurred days became as vivid as the sky becomes after a rumbling downpour. I refolded the page, and looked up–– the sky had become starkly dark with the clouds geared up to release themselves inside out. I wanted to get indoors, but at the last moment, I thought there was something serene, something enthralling the way things had shaped up within a few hours. As I was thinking all this, someone shouted, ‘Get inside, dad! Are you gonna get drenched?’ These words sounded so jarring to me that I almost cursed myself–– all the starkness of my life came back to me after a few hours of this romantic amnesia. ‘Don’t worry, I will be fine,’ I shouted back. I wished I had not got so engrossed in my day-to-day life. I wished I had the courage to live my life my own way. I wished I could get back to the moment when I was writing this poem. And, it started drizzling. I felt wetness around my eyes–– were they raindrops or tears? As the clouds grumbled, the wind hissed, the trees swayed, and my heart thumped, I realized that I still had the time–– to live the life I had lost. By this time, it was raining heavily.
‘Are you crazy, dad?’ my eighteen-year-old daughter screamed as she came out of the house into the garden with an umbrella and snatched the diary from me.
‘Yes, I was insane–– all these years,’ I rejoined and pointed towards the sky.
‘What is it? What are you pointing to?’ she cried in exasperation as she was getting drenched.
‘It is freedom. It is realization,’ I mumbled, feeling the bliss that was falling from the sky this monsoon.