The Night Sky by Archan Kundu

A Flash Fiction - 6 minutes read.

I don’t remember a night so beautiful.

When was the last time I saw stars arching over the city like a chandelier? A sky so smooth and soft like a blue-black charmeuse draping the globe, studded with all the pearls, rubies, and gems that sparkle in all directions to modestly usher at the elegance of the fabric. When were the clouds so low and light, moving fast, careful not to obstruct the magnificent view? When was Mars blazing so crimson right by the moon? And the moon, oh the moon! The most beautiful, sitting in the middle of the court of galaxies and planets, carrying its aura of divinity to mesmerize the heaven gazers. I keep staring deeper into the sky, the never-ending depths of which remind me of a pair of eyes. But this time the thought of those eyes didn't make my heart skip a beat. This time it made it heavier.

The Night Sky by Archan Kundu [Illustration by Amrita Banerjee]
The Night Sky by Archan Kundu [Illustration by Amrita Banerjee]

Reminding me that the night sky at its prime too, will not match those eyes, the eyes I will never see again. This is why the night sky is so beautiful right? Or else in this pandemonium of ‘my life’ when was the night so beautiful? Never.

But now it is here, the night sky. The peace that was waiting for eternity right around the corner. A silence, so deep that I could hear no one, nothing but the breeze whistling in a hurry to fill the void, blowing away the dust from my hair.

Where are those photographers who thought the beauty of a nocturnal city is all about the shimmering skyscrapers, and the twinkling concrete towers? The window-wrapped buildings reflecting and refracting innumerable light rays from the electronic urban sources, all standing collectively lonely, got a place in the frame. The city panorama, every city panorama, has been the same till now, the glimmer and shine of pretentious prosperity growing heavier with luminescence at nightfall. Pretending to be the night sky. This night sky above me. The amazing night sky. They were filling the air with the shutter noises right in the morning, filming the rubbish. Watching everything and yet saying nothing. The scene of a brutal homicide is what pays them, not the sight of a beautiful home. This night sky is my home now, and so is this dark city. In the morning, it is just another site like the others. They will be here tomorrow when this view, this city, and my home are gone again, this dark skyline with no commotion. A gigantic shadow of the once shimmering and twinkling skyscrapers and concrete towers against the deep blue sky with all the pretense nullified into a murky jungle of man-made mud. A powerless capital lit by the moonlight but unable to capitalize it.

But the darkness of the city didn’t reach me. Below my dangling legs is the deserted street where I grew up playing, going to school, going to college, chatting with friends, and getting older. Now it is filled with pebbles, rocks, and what used to be our third and fourth floors. It is the first time I am sitting like this on the wide balusters of my balcony with my legs on the other side of the railing. I was afraid of heights growing up, even till last month. It would be funny to say I am still scared of it. What would falling from here bring me? Nothing but Freedom.

I lay down on my parent’s bed gazing up at the full moon. Remembering the all-time romantics and disagreeing yet again. Moon is not romantic like the poets and the lovers have said time and time again, for me it is a tragedy. Although, it does remind me of love. It does fill my heart with love, only because my relationship with love is tragic. But tonight, unlike countless other nights, this tragedy is peaceful. I don't know how but this night reminds me of an afternoon. It was ages back on a small island called Krabi. I was with my parents, swimming in and out of the sea and tanning my skin in the equator sun. My father was sipping a beer on the beach while my mother, a social media addict at the time, was clicking selfies with buttered sweet corn and a local cocktail. Floating in heaven's clear ocean, with white sands below me bedding the dead corals, I looked up at a huge rock on my left photo bombing the view of the open blue sky. I kept my ears submerged in the water to listen to the rhythms of the waves. The same rhythm I felt throughout my body on the surface of the ocean. It was serenity. I was one with nature.

Just like tonight. This boost of zeal on looking at the wide open space above me is new, as new as the night. It was always there but never there. Till now the millions of gigantic stars over the cities have been obscured by a few thousand streetlights. The moon got covered by smoke from cigarettes. The wind was offended by billboards but not anymore. I can hear the wind's melody trail as it takes away the tiny clouds. I can look at the horizon which isn't glowing anymore but is non-linear due to the distant structures. I can imagine breathing in fresh air while choking on the dust. Is this what cavemen saw before civilization? Is this what the countryside see before urbanization? I envy them.

But sadness has failed to consume me like others. It did, but not anymore. Not in this revival of life amidst the dead city. My dry and dusty cheeks are stretched in a smile with a single lane of a tear rolling down on the right, like the Nile in the Sahara. My reason for happiness is my parents, as it always has been. I can see their smiles, and the shine on them. Looking at maa I was reminded of the task she had given me, to water the plants although there is no water left. Only the tiny Aloe Vera plant in the bedroom is alive, the rest got buried. It is the youngest of the family of Aloe Vera plants my mother tended to. I am also the youngest in my family. Now we have two things in common.

I am looking around proudly at the walls of my ancestral house. Unbeaten. “The foundations of the 1900s are as solid as the mountains”, my father had told me while explaining how the foundations of buildings work. He was right. The cargo wing only took down half of our ancient habitat. “If the plane had not been there, it would have been the bombs.” That is what I tell myself. The other parts of the floor are covered with our former ceiling. Only the bedroom is left as the ceiling on top of it fell off on the road from the impact of the crashing cargo aircraft, leaving a quintal of dust and pebbles behind.

It has been two days since the bombing stopped. I don’t hate the bombing; I am thankful for it. It silenced the chaos. Drained out the already dead while breathing life into the forgotten night sky. The Bomb is also a tragedy like the moon. Burdened by its preacher/producer with the duty to protect themselves. To clean the city like the Pupil tree by my house. The tree was worshipped by a local priest who made a fortune out of preaching about its "holiness" to the poor, promising them protection from their sins. He rests right below his god now. Cleaned, a gift of the bombing.

I do not miss the city streets and the crowds, the mobs singing the war cries. The chants of the glory of a wall dividing the human race and mother earth. Fools following Frauds to their own death. This new city is a product of the naivety of the mob, another believer of the pupil tree. The new city was inevitable and so was the night sky. A balanced equation.

But the cargo plane? It never took off to crash. The pilot was not trained to crash it. The bird did not fly a bit higher to get stuck in the engine. I was not supposed to fall asleep on this bed. Mistakes leading to Unplanned Errors. Collateral Damage. The roof over my head has been lost in collateral damage.

After three days, I am happy as the clouds have cleared and I see my parents again. Shining bright, just like they used to smile, amidst this magnificent night sky. Looking down upon me, while I heal in the silence and the breeze.

But the silence is not for long as the distant siren approaches announcing the arrival of food. People are coming out from their private rubles to collect their share of survival. I find the siren obnoxious, reminding me to pretend to be alive while all I want is to be free. I have the reason and the means to be. The idea of being able to look deep into those eyes again motivates me to take the leap. But I can’t.

Both of them are keeping an eye on me, under the night sky.


Archan Kundu 


Amrita Banerjee

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