A Short Story

Meet Smiley. She is seven years old, loves wearing red-colored frocks and dancing in the rain. To her, everything seems like a miracle. She smiles when she sees a tree, a flower, a moon, a horizon, a person, a thing.

It is raining lightly, a gentle tip-tap over the roof of Smiley’s little hut. As soon as she wakes, her eyes are lit and her smile curves more as she stretches her arms. Little footsteps trace the muddy path outside the hut, disappearing in to a distant forest. In the shade of trees, with the leaves whispering secrets about the rain, she finds a golden pencil, lying near the trunk of one of the trees.

At home, she gets herself a sheet of paper. She thinks of the moon, and begins to draw. The moon is on her sheet. She thinks of the stars, and they are on her sheet. Smiley picks up another sheet — this time thinking of a sunrise — and it is right there. The golden pencil actually has magic! Whatever she thinks of, she can draw, see, live.

Smiley wanders across landscapes, snow-capped mountains, oceans. She thinks of the Taj Mahal and finds it on the paper. The golden pencil helps her visit the Great Wall of China, the churches of Europe, the skyscrapers of New York, and the lakes of Tibet. Smiley then wanders further. She thinks of Venus and Saturn and stars and galaxies. By exploring the expanse, she immerses herself in the beauty of the cosmos.

As dusk draws near, she lays the pencil to rest and prepares to go to sleep.

Next morning, she has the widest smile she has ever had on her face. The first thing she does after waking up is to pick up the golden pencil. There is something special on her mind today. A dream that is the sum of all her dreams, and more. A thought that captures all her thoughts, and beyond. Today she wants to witness that thought. See it, feel it, live it. She thinks… God. The smile curves with greater joy.

The pencil on paper, her hands gently begin to move. One line leads to another, trying to unravel the most beautiful essence of it all. Smiley lets her pencil go, not wondering where it is going. She lets the lines trace themselves, without trying to figure out what it is, yet.

After a few minutes, the golden pencil is still. Smiley looks at the sheet of paper, and her smile turns in to an eruption of joy. She laughs, with her eyes wet.

On the sheet of the paper, she sees her face. And the smile.

Dedicated to the dreamy conversationalist. This needs to be kept lest I forget.


The Joy in Mystery

The world around is beautiful, and mysterious.

Simple things like the snowflakes, the moving clouds, twinkling stars, diffused sunset colours and a baby’s smile arouse a feeling of awe and wonder. I enjoy being a witness to such special moments. Sometimes they bring in poetry, sometimes they inspire curiousity. Science is a tool for the latter, where models compete for description of things that are sometimes very subtle. Complex formulae sometimes obscure reality, especially for someone like me who cannot absorb without an image (and colours). However, intense (or rather, free) thought brings in incremental revelations. Moments where you see how the subtle is incorporated in to what looked obscure. Equations speak. Diagrams become animated. There is a great joy in understanding, quite similar to the joy of meditation… or the experience of watching sunrise at the Besant Nagar beach.

While there is a certain regret as to why I did not spend more time with my scientific quest at IITM, I hope these moments will be more frequent now. There is certainly no greater fulfillment than one of complete understanding. And even infinitesimally small increments feel wonderful.

The stars are infinities away,
but each step towards them is a sparkle of joy…