Saturday, 28 November 2009

Leonid Meteor Shower: Wishing on the Same Star

17th - 18th November 2009

Hand in hand, we strolled slowly along the winding path. The silence of the dead of the night, with only the sounds of the waves crashing in the distance to be heard other them our gently footsteps... a feeling so familair, yet so distant at the same time.

It's been a long time since we've been to this place, too long perhaps.

Memories flooded our minds as we made our way to one of the benches, one of the benches where we used to sit and watch planes go by in the dead of the night, one of the benches that we sat staring out at the changing tide; one of the benches that we built our foundational months upon.

Still in a semi-sleepy stupor, I was more than relieved to find a place to settle down, wondering if the 3-hour nap at the end of an exhausting day did more harm than good in helping me stay awake. But still, it was a decision that I had made, one that I was sure she would relish and cherish, if it came together properly, and that was one big if.

I looked at my watch and saw the hands positioned themselves at  "3.30 a.m.", and then looked towards the sky, not saying a word to her.

"Asia has the best seats." "The peak of the show is between 3 to 5 a.m." were the words that I had read earlier in the day, and she had read them too, which probably did much to contribute to her excitement and anticipation.

Yet, all I saw above me were clouds, thick clouds that filled the moonless sky. In my mind, I was already forming words of consolation to say to her to ease her disappointment. The chances of anything happening looked pretty slim, as I stared on at the clouds through my half-batted eyelids for a while before shutting them completely.

Hoping to feel the wind on my cheeks, I felt nothing but stillness, and perhaps in an act of desperation, I said a little prayer, as I heard her say the words, "Just let me see one and I'll be happy."

"Do you know where Mars is?" she asked. "They said that it will look like they are shooting out from Mars."

I looked up at the sky, looking for a red, non-flickering speck in the sky, not finding anything.

"Or would you be able to tell which one is Leo? They said that it will fly towards the direction of Leo," she asked, equally earnestly.

Without saying a word, I walked out to the seaside, as far as I could and looked upwards, rotating a full 360 degrees to try to find what she desired.

Seeing nothing but clouds, I walked back to her. "Let's go to our favourite spot. I think it's darker there and we have a better chance of seeing it," I said, believing in increasing our chances in whatever way we could.

Through the long, wet grass to a bench that strayed rather far out from the pathway, we planted ourselves on the table and placed our necks in a strained position in hopes of getting the widest perspective of the sky above us.

We spoke about the past, we spoke about the present, and we spoke of the near future as we kept our necks tilted upwards. The sky had cleared two little openings by now, one that was around a little reddish speck that we weren't sure of whether it was Mars, and another around Orion's Belt.

Like vigilant watchmen, each of us kept our eyes fixated on one of these openings.

Sitting in silence as we watched, I hesitantly broke the silence. "I think I saw one."

"Where?" she said.

"I think I just saw this really quick streak then went by on my side, like a shooting star." I said, using my finger to gesture its movement path.

Indeed, I had caught something quick flash by at the corner of my eye, so fast, that I couldn't really be sure if I was just hallucinating.

Sensing the anticipation and hope swelling up inside her, I again rehearsed the lines of consolation in my head, almost in a meditative fashion.

"I saw it!" she exclaimed, breaking the silence, and probably shattering it to pieces beyond that, with a shrill of uncontrollable excitement in her voice.

"Where?" I said, turning to look at her side.

"It just went by there," she replied, pointing next to the odd red, little speck.

And indeed, there was an odd trail still left in the sky, slowly dissipating as I continued to stare at it, at the same time leaving me wondering if I had seen the right thing previously.

Beaming with joy and excitement, I felt a sense of relief as I looked at the smile on her face, knowing that it would suffice for the night even if I had not seen one.

Perhaps God chooses to reward those who don't question but simply believe, or perhaps she just has a aura of fortune that shadows her, almost miraculously, the skies had cleared up over the last hour or so, and by now, we had a full view of the night sky, as I could gaze at the stars and call out the constellations.

Just as I was pointing out what I thought was Libra, I saw another streak go by right through the middle of the 4 stars, rather similar to what I thought I had seen.

"I saw it!" we both exclaimed together, she a lot more excited than I, but I too couldn't help but feel a rush flowing through my mind and body as well, knowing that I had just caught a Shooting Star.

Commonly an object of fascination in dramas, there is just this general sense of romance that comes with being able to catch one of these with a lover. Perhaps the magic lies very much in the rarity and brevity of it, that many would account it to a sign of Destiny, Fate of Chance if 2 people are at the right place at the right time to catch one.

But Destiny was definitely smiling rather warmly at us, as it didn't stop at one.

"I saw one!" came over and over, sometimes in unison, and occasionally from the Lady herself; the excitement and joy in her voice never diminishing with each one that she spotted, but rather, showing a renewed fascination with each new one.

Every time after I heard those words and looked up at the sky to see if I could catch the remaining glimpses of it, the next thing I would do would be to look down and steal at glance at her face, warming my heart to see the pure joy in her face, and feeling thankful that we made an effort and try to catch this perhaps once-in-a-lifetime experience in each other's company.

By 5.15 a.m., she had already caught 6 and I had caught 4 as we were massaging our strained necks.

"If there ever is a next time, I think we should bring a mat and lie down," she said. "Shall we go?"

I kept quiet, still looking up into the sky at Leo, where most of our catches were from.

"You know, I just realised something. I was so excited everytime I saw one, that I forgot to make a wish," she said.

I looked at her and smiled without saying a word, and then patted her on her head, amused by her silliness and naivity.

"Let's leave at 5.30," I said, and reverted to the straining position, as I saw her scratching her mosquito bites frantically at the corner of my eye as her head tilted upwards too.

A speck darted across the sky above Leo, lighting up a fragment of the sky in the darkest hours before dawn, leaving a streak that only lasted a second before it all faded away- ephemeral perhaps, yet still so beautiful.

"I sa-" she started.

"Quick! Make a wish!" I exclaimed, interrupting her, as I saw her instantaneously closing her eyes and bowing her head.

I followed suit and wished upon the same star, wondering if our wishes were even remotely similar.

"All of the Stars have Faded away; Try not to Worry you'll See them Someday."

Sunday, 8 November 2009

November Rain

Drops of water trickled down my brow as I kept my head above the surface, but something was amiss. Certain drops felt like they bore a greater velocity than the others, as I turned my face skyward in question, only to be answerd by the gentle drops of water that fell upon my cheeks.

I smiled silently to myself, wondering when was the last time I felt like this - the last time that I could stand in the rain, with a sense of reckless abandon, not caring if I had to get my clothes dry, or if I would catch a cold or the like. And yet, the situation I was in naturally lent itself to me being able to afford such recklessness... if only for a while.

The drizzle slowly started to intensify, as I submerged more of my body below the water's surface, minimizing the contact from the droplets that rained from above. At the new level of sight that I had obtained, I saw a slightly captivating sight, as each rain drop that hit the water's surface caused a ripple in its wake and bounced off in arcs in 4 different directions, causing subsequent ripples and multiplying themselves into another 4 after that.

I kept my gaze fixated on the water's surface, enjoying the nimble movements of nature's dance that played out before me, but in truth, I was probably staring harder into the void that laid beyond these dancers. It had been too long since I could afford to feel this way, to just take some time off and enjoy the littler things, to be able to cast my mind into the open sea and simply allow it to drift, not having to worry about the next thing to do, the next problem to be fixed, or the next task at hand... it had been too long since I'd given myself anytime to breathe, in fact.

I propelled myself forward and dived towards the surface of the pool, keeping my entire body sheltered from the ever-increasing velocity of the raindrops that fell from above. The sounds of raindrops heard through the distortion of the medium resulted in an oddly rhythmic and soothing tune, as I continued to hide myself from the rain.

I emerged near her feet, and took a glance at her face, only to see that she had similar thoughts on her mind.

"Don't you just love this feeling?" I asked her.

"Yes," she said, "I used to enjoy walking home in the rain in the past."

I smiled as I bent over to kiss her, but just as my lips were almost upon her's, a bright flash filled the sky, cutting short our little act of romance.

"I think that's our cue to get out of here," I told her, as I hurried her to the edge of the pool.

Ephemeral perhaps, but liberating nonetheless.

- When was the Last Time you Walked in the Rain? -