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The art of doing nothing

It’s Sunday evening and I sit in my living room, watching the IPL match because I know that’s the easiest item my brain can process at that point after a strenuous day. As I sip a cup of tea and gather my thoughts around how my next week may progress, the electricity in our apartment goes off. “Ah, it’s the rain! Everytime the clouds roar we have a power outage,” my wife groans, coming out of the bedroom, trying to break her shackles of weekend laziness. She proposes that sitting in the balcony is a rather good idea as it is pleasant outside. For the lack of a better option, I nod and follow her (or if I should say so, after five years of marriage there always is only one option to go for).

As we gaze through the distance ahead, we appreciate the unobstructed view our balcony is still able to offer us (and we quickly thank each other for our mutual decision to choose an apartment in a high-rise building).

As my wandering mind continues to ponder over my upcoming meetings at the workplace, my desire to go for a 10,000-km run in less than 60 minutes, my ranking in the cricket fantasy league, my next weekend culinary trials and so on, I realise that the sun is setting, behind the most distant building my bare eyes can see.

At this very point, a distinctive thought emerges – that of the twilight. That time of the day that often found mention in one of my childhood favourite, Games at Twilight by Anita Desai. I become aware that my mind is moving into a reminiscent state and I am glad it doesn’t bring up dialogues from the forgettable 2008 movie, Twilight.

I distinctly remember the ruthless 10+ hour power cuts during the summer months, growing up. The scorching heat drove the entire neighbourhood to the rooftops in the hope that some late-night breeze would keep the sweat away. For me it was a time of endless chatter with friends, gazing at the sky and trying to experience first-hand our newly acquired knowledge of the solar system. We would be mesmerised by the vastness of the big black sky with its twinkling companions. We would excitedly count the number of two-wheelers and cars on the distant highway, visible to us for a short span through those recesses between buildings. I remember thinking that I could do it all night without ever getting bored.

As my mind oscillates between these thoughts, I hear the hoot of the local train. I feel like I am hearing it after a long time, although we have a train passing by our apartment often. I realise how my ever-wandering mind has kept me from observing things happening around me. I am starting to enjoy this time away from my gadgets as I watch another train pass by on the opposite track. I laugh out at a distant sight of a child wobbling along on his bicycle as he attempts to master the ride.

It is almost getting dark now and I try to catch the last glimpses of this vast land that I know will soon be inhabited by newer and larger structures that will obstruct my view. I thank the electricity agency for giving me the unexpected me-time as I engage in this forgotten ‘art of doing nothing’. As we decide to head inside for dinner, the playlist on my wife’s phone moves to the song ‘Bare Necessities’ from the 1967 classic, Jungle Book. I gently smile as I get off my chair, appreciating the song title even more now.

vibhukapoor1986@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 12:03:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-art-of-doing-nothing/article26757902.ece

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