Of lengthening shadows

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Jul 2018 10:16:54


By Vijay Phanshikar,

Lengthening shadows of the evening ...





THIS is hardly a description of the evening. Of course, it is truthful no doubt. For, the evening has that quality of stretching the shadows. Yet, these words -- having been written countless millions of times by countless millions of people on countless millions of occasions since time immemorial -- encompass in their embrace something very profound, very deep, and something that almost compels us to look for implied similes ...!

I have always understood the lengthening shadows of the evenings as lingering signatures of the day that is refusing to die. For, even as a child as I waited for the evening to arrive and give me the opportunity to watch the lengthening shadows, I wondered if those shadows were of the evening or of the day stretching its domain. That feeling has endured all my life. For, I often feel that the day has certain possessiveness that does not allow him to let his grip on time to fade.

Yet, as the day fades into afternoon which fades into evening, shadows appear, first surreptitiously and then surreally. And then I feel strongly that the day is not allowing his domain to fade. So, he keeps stretching his signatures on time -- through the shadows that have a quality to linger and lengthen.
This is the special quality of the evening -- of harbouring this romance of light and shade that plays between shadows, invariably traversing toward night, the ultimate
destination when darkness engulfs the world and creates a blank in which everybody even stops blinking.

Evening, thus, is an interlude between the day when everything is lighted up and the night when everything is engulfed in a space-like darkness that offers the world a
temporary cocoon in which to regenerate itself, rejuvenate from the tiring and trying process of life.

It is in this interlude -- between the day and the night -- that evening thrives and then fades away. And as she relaxes cozily, letting her hair down, allowing her eyelids to droop, evening seems to ask the day: ‘Yes, what is your problem! Why don’t you relax? Okay, the night is waiting to arrive. That is her part of time. But you don’t want that to happen. And so you intervene into my time through these shadows that keep lengthening, as if to perpetuate you though in small parts. What kind of possessiveness, this!’

No matter all these sweet protestations, the day does not want to give up. Though he knows that he will have to give in -- if not give up -- the day keeps stretching himself through the shadows, trying his best to lengthen his signature on time. This play of shadows, this romance of light and shade through the cracks and
crevasses Nature, is very bewitching, very enchanting, to say the least. As the shadows lengthen, linger, they seem to want to catch everything in their trajectory, their path, and also in their wake.

This possessiveness, this pervasiveness, this persuasiveness is an essential quality of the lengthening shadows. They spread their romantic embrace around, taking in everything -- so completely that evening loses her identity and allows herself to fade into the night.
Evening, thus, is time of compromise -- between the day and the night, an interlude whose metaphor it is not easy to decipher. On one hand, she assures one that there is an easy time available. On the other hand, she cautions that there is a busy time ahead -- to slip into night and get engaged in not just blinkless sleeping but also in busyness of dreaming.

For me, the metaphor of evening’s lengthening shadows have so many implications, so many interpretations.
And so I keep waiting for this interlude between the day and the night. For, it is in this phase of time that I often feel geared up for the process of diurnal resurrection.