I am remembering something.
At first it comes to me as a feeling. It is comforting. It is a place I want to be. It is home.
Is it the memory of a dream? It is indistinct, but real. I am holding only a thread. And I do not want to let go.
Maybe it is a movie I saw, a book I once read or a piece of conversation, the clarity of an idea that is so simple that it is beauty. It is the comfort I want, the protection that embraces.
Then it comes back all at once: a woman on a beach, a tree, a wind that calms, a rain that cleanses, but does not wet.
My memories are nothing but looped reruns I cannot change. But this one memory is different. There is no regret, no disappointment. I do not want to adjust it, fix the focus or rewrite the script. I return to its shores because this one memory is my comfort. It is not the past. It is not the future. It is my home beyond my home. It will always be the present.
Stop me if you have heard this all before. It might sound familiar. It might have happened to you.
Remember this: my name. It is Vishesh. Vishesh Darshane. Can you remember that? You can call me Vishesh or Vijay, Raj or even Jimmy if you wish, if it is easier. I have been many things, but none had to do with my name. And, if I am to admit the truth, none of them had anything to do with me as a person.
Be still. Remember my name. It is the label that is attached to me. It is the one thread that is sewn through this entire story. Your story or my story — it is only the stitching that changes.
The want is the thing that drives us.
Trust me: I have a story to tell.
I was ten. It was May, the hottest of months. I was on the beach in my hometown, Nargol, in southern Gujarat, on the west coast of India. I had been playing cricket with other boys. I remember because my legs were tired and I was happy. I was satisfied.
When I say "playing," that might be an exaggeration. My legs were not tired from running, jumping for the ball, exertion of any kind. My legs were tired from simply standing. If sitting squat, cross-legged on the ground had been a option, a cricket approved position, that would have been my choice — in the middle of the action, but not part of it.
The truth is I loved being a part of the game. I enjoyed it very much. I did not enjoy the playing. There is a difference. Being a part is acceptance. Playing is dangerous. Both injury and humiliation are the risks. I was usually in the distant outfield, in the area least likely for the ball to travel. That is where they wanted me. And that is where I wanted to be.
I delighted in cheering on the others, keeping score on a scrap of paper or in the dirt with a stick or the heel of my shoe. I was a cheerleader, a support, but what I liked most was the numbers. Sometimes, when the game was slow or I was bored, I would siphon a handful of the sandy dirt between my fingers. Like a potion of magic, if I could count every last grain before they slipped through, returning to the ground, I would understand. The count was the knowledge.
"Mother Earth," I thought, "if the ball rolls this way, use all your grains to stop it. You are so many. The ball is only one." It was a prayer more than a thought.
I knew even then that, like those grains, I was one among millions. There were five million or more other boys my age in India, every one of them as cricket-mad as the next. In height, in schoolwork, in talent, in every way, it seemed, I did not stand out. Yet when I was alone with myself, I knew there was more — more than just getting ahead, more than standing out in the crowd, catching the ball or winning a match.
Perhaps those were my thoughts on that day. My luminous memory, singular and pure, is this: the game is ending, the boys are tired but not dispersed, the ball is still occasionally rising high through the air, but the desire to run, to catch is gone.
I see a woman in a white sari and a red shawl. At first, it is the colour that catches my eye, then it is her grace and movement. She is at the shoreline, the very edge where water and land meet. There is a give and take, a partnership between the two.
I follow her. At a distance. Compelled. The shouts and voices of the game recede, erased by the waves, the continuous roll of water. My distance from her is respectful.
She turns from the shore, towards a grove of small trees, bushes and stubbled grasses. She sits under one tree, much like the others, windbent and weathered. She closes her eyes. It seems like meditation, not sleep. It is silence. Deep.
My attention is sharp and focused. I am closer than the actual distance between us.
She is beauty. And she is peace. She reminds me of no one. Do I know her? Is she from Nepal. Is she Gujarati? Her age is beyond determination. I cannot count. My math does not work. The moment is complete to itself. It is both new and familiar. It is real and vibrant.
There is a gentle power and a perfection.
Then it came. Out of a clear sky, a rain, torrential. Not water so much as light and energy — vibration. She does not move. Shelter is not needed.
If you have this feeling as I did, you might also never forget. It was magnificent and grand. If you had this experience, you might want to run and tell the world. But after the running, the words fail. Language is limited. But my awareness did not fail. My awareness, my attitude and understanding did not change. They opened. Like a door. Like a curtain. Like a current of electricity that reaches a bulb. The filament glows in the glassed vacuum. It glows bright.
And then, all at once, it fills the darkened room with light, a rich and bathing luminance.
She sat there for some time. I also sat. For how long, I am unsure. Meditation does not know the hand of the clock.