“If time could stand still, it would have been here.”
The sunset encapsulated the sky, gently layering it with gorgeous hues of red and yellow which slowly mellowed into a welcoming pink.What was striking about Nigeen Lake was the absence of sound. Here, one did not have to contend with the noisy blare of speeding autos, or the yell of passengers as they insulted the maniacal drivers. Even the hum of everyday chatter which added a comforting ambience was not present.
A shikara passed me by loaded with flowers, the wrinkled old man steering with an agility which paid tribute to his experience. The paddle dipped into the lake with almost no sound and surfaced – a far cry from my clumsy attempts to steer a shikara, which were characterized with ungainly splashing.
I sat on a bench outside, basking in the warm tranquility. Even our “tea-boy” moved around with cat-like agility, gentle footsteps being the only reminder of his presence.
The lake stretched out all around me, leaving me breathless with its vastness where the occasional ripple served to remind the onlooker lulled into a false sense of security that time was still passing by, ripple by ripple. Clouds moved about lazily; the lake reflecting the heavens in a dynamic fresco.
Amidst the setting sun and the occasional plop of fish jumping about a strange resonance reached me from the other side of the lake. It sounded as if someone was chanting, yet singing at the same time. I realised that I was hearing the adhan for maghrib prayer time.
I decided to take a nap, resting my head on the wooden panel behind me as I surveyed the mountains in the far distance. I felt that I could close my eyes for when I opened them, there would be no visible change save the slow descent of night stealthily creeping upon the lake.
The sky had changed into a flat black landscape dotted with stars when I was finally roused from my sleep. The piercing and intensely lonely sound of the adhan signaling isha prayer filtered across the lake. The night was absolutely silent, punctuated only by the sound of fish jumping against the lake’s surface, whereupon they disappeared into its depths. The water was pleasantly cooler than earlier in the day, a welcome respite from the stifling hot weather.
The sky was strikingly clear, and the stars shone like jewels. I sat rooted to my seat as I had never witnessed such a rich landscape, so diverse in its lush beauty; so drastically different from prayer to prayer.
I wondered what new beauty would be witnessed at fajr.