There’s a lake — Cary Glen — right next to where I stay in Cary, North Carolina. I time my evening walk such that I reach there at sundown. If the sunset is pretty, I loiter, making pictures. Just to beat the boredom of seeing the same place day after day, I often pick another lake — Google Maps calls it Morris Branch — again at walking distance from home. I step out in the evening, carrying my camera. The skies look dull. Rain threatens to pour any moment.
Summer is slowly giving way to Fall, and already some trees are yellowing. I walk around the greenway surrounding the lake and the clouds just seem to become darker. To the right of the lake stand tall trees that would make for a pretty sight in Fall for sure.
I feel a couple of raindrops on my arms, and I decide to walk back. There’s no wind that can be felt, and chances of watching a sunset are non-existent. This being a long weekend, there aren’t a lot of folks out on a stroll either. I saunter home.
Almost three-fourths the way home, I look back to the west to see a crack in the clouds near the horizon. A yellow glow is spreading and it promises something. The lazybones in me disses it as a false alarm, that the skies are too cloudy for a sunset. I continue walking. A couple of minutes later, I turn back. the sun is now poking through the gap in the horizon. I am convinced now that there is a chance that the sun may peek through the clouds and showcase some fireworks. It is too late to walk all the way back. My regular haunt, Cary Glen, is closer and seems a safer bet. I break into a jog and quickly cover the half mile between me and Cary Glen. Each time I turn back, I know that crack in the clouds near the horizon promises more and more.
As I reach Cary Glen, there’s a definitive yellow glow in the horizon. As I settle down at the shore of the lake, the glow gets warmer. The clouds are still menacing, but they too have developed a mild blush, reflecting the fire on the horizon. Every passing second, the skies look more and more cheerful.
Slowly the fire spreads. It sets the clouds aglow. Then to burn. The skies all around go nuclear. A few drops of rain fall, but I don’t care. I forget to breathe. I forget to squash the mosquito that has tucked into my forearm. The skies burn more and more every second. There are no dark clouds anymore. They are all blood red.
A Malayalam poem that I read somewhere rings in my head “Padinjaare maanatharo kuruthikkinnam thatti marichu” – Someone spilled a platter of blood over the western skies.
The rain picks up pace and now my camera bag and my mobile phone are getting drenched. I don’t care. I feel as if I’ve lived the last year just for this moment. To watch such madness that starts as a spark in the horizon and spreads all over the skies, and into my head. I forget my 16-hour-day workday. I forget the frustration of being unable to get out and drive to some place I love. I forget every single disappointment and heartbreak that I had been through for the past couple of years. I feel euphoric. I don’t know if I am laughing aloud, but I can hear my laughter resound inside my head.
If this is madness, then let me never be sane again.