Of a perfect evening

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Jan 2018 09:41:16



By Vijay Phanshikar,




Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening.

- A haiku by
Matsuo Basho.

really A perfect evening!
Imagine a scenario: The sun has dipped below the skyline. The crimson shade fills the void. Cool winds are beginning to whiz past licking the ears, ruffling the hair. A quiet stream meanders by. On the other side is a temple whose tower rises above everything. Around the temple are fields where fragrant chrysanthemum blossoms dance in the wind. People go into the temple and emerge from in a rarified stream.

They ring the temple bells, their sound lingering long in the evening air. The people lay bunches of chrysanthemum blossoms at the altar, their fragrance filling the air. Slowly, as evening wears out into early night, only one or two devotees go to the temple and emerge rather in a hurry, the sounds of temple bells dying out behind them. Yet, the blossoms -- at the altar and in the fields -- continue to spread fragrance. It is time now to suck in the fragrance, take in the lingering resonance of the dying bells. It is time to look back on the day. It is time to enjoy the fragrance of the good work done, hear the lingering sounds of one’s own prayers that one achieves through goodness of thought and action in a frenzied day!!!!!!!

A perfect evening!
The poet captures this mood of a perfect evening very aptly, very maturely, very fully -- in so few words!
But then, to suck in the beauty of such a perfect evening, one really does not need many words. For, when the day’s work is over, when the chaos of daily living is now filing out, when there is no need of a rush and a crush of the marketplace, one does not need words to relive the feel of life in the day that has just passed by. At such moments, one needs a quietitude where even temple bells do not ring, but fragrant blossoms do make their presence felt.

Don’t we endure the frenzy of living only for such moments? Don’t we long for such a quietness where the sounds of temple bells remain only in lingered resonance and blossoms in an expanding fragrance?
We may never verbalise this longing,
this striving, this yearning every time. Yet,
in the innermost sanctum of the being, we all look for such a perfect evening.

No, this is no hinting at what some may call the evening of life. Here, the suggestion is of an evening after living out a frenzied day full of tussle and hustle and bustle. All that work, all that tugging, all that pushing and pulling bestows upon us the right to expect a perfect evening -- temple bells dying out, fragrant blossoms extending out and an empty quietness filling in our inner being.

This is not a yearning easy to achieve. Much to the contrary, it is a yearning that is almost out of reach, almost beyond the horizon, in some zone in imagination where entry is almost strictly forbidden.
Yet, one wants to get back into that zone of A perfect evening where one is in company of dying sounds of temple bells and living fragrance of chrysanthemums.