A Morning Memory of Manipal

I awoke early with a start, perhaps it was the Mess food that was messing with my physiology, or perhaps it was the body telling me, it’s time I took care of it. It was a quarter past 5 and the room mate was snoring mayhem gloriously, happily asleep. He was a Medical Resident – I never saw him coming and or leaving the room , in the few days since he’s bunked in my room. It was only about a month since we had joined the Manipal University and after a few minutes of lazy ambivalence, I remembered the recommendation from many friends to catch the sunrise at the End Point.

I quickly refreshed, changed into a newly bought and never used pair of trainers, and decided to go for a run to the End point. I opened the door to my room, careful not to disturb whatever dreams the room-mate was having and headed out into the early morning chill. I was told it wasn’t farther than 2 kilometres  from my hostel (what is called – the New Bachelor Quarters or NBQ for short), but, which way should I head? The little I knew of Manipal was the road that led to my Department (Pharmacology) and the one that led to the quintessential centre of every town (Tiger Circle- was the one for Manipal). And what time was the Sunrise? It was a quarter to six already!

So I left immediately.When I stepped out, the night was old with a leathery feel of a winter dawn in the beckoning, the air was heavy with fresh dew. The street was deserted and silent carefully concealing the promise of new day. A middle-aged lady covering herself in a cap, a muffler and long shawl walked past. Hoping to ask her the direction I let out an ‘excuse me’ into the cold air. As if she had seen my face on the Most-Wanted poster she hastened into the darkness without answering. Meanwhile, not far away a man and woman, presumably on the morning walk, under the advantage of the murk, were busy stealing off flowers from a nearby private tree. Not wanting to alarm them , I just turned right blindly. After a furlong of run, I came across a man riding a moped, who, upon gesture, was kind enough to stop and give me the much wanted directions, not only correctly but also succinctly, a trait most Indians lack.It wasn’t far off, and to quote a friend, nothing is in Manipal.

Past some Official Residences, Joggers, Walkers, Type 2 Diabetics, Mild Hypertensives, loud North Indians I was at End Point in about ten minutes.End Point is a summit of mini hillock from where one can catch the tail of the western ghats laid out in an open valley shaped like a giant natural U turn; I waited for about 15 minutes, easing my limbs and mind. As I waited, dawn broke through slowly, colouring the scape layer by layer. The ghats were low and faint in the receding night with freshly sliced clouds hovering over them, taxiing slowly through the vast conventions of the greens.

Down in the valley, a rivulet named Suvarna, snaked past serenely reflecting all the magic in her wide shimmering arm. The birds chirped ceaselessly heralding the dawn. The sun started glimpsing through the mist and the day began to warm up. Needless to say it was beautiful – the fresh day and the immensity of the dawn being unwrapped by the endless sky. The moment was moving and beheld great promise, yet I found a tinge of heaviness inside me. In that instant I realised, I wanted to be a boy; younger and in the past– more ignorant, more naive and more able to innocently believe and appreciate the might of the tremendous infinity that lay before me. And I knew I would never be able to, as I did once, which seemed so distant and so difficult. Standing there, feeling like an obscure trivia, it occurred to me that growing up wasn’t progress after all. Aging, however glorified and virtuous, was decline– a slow and trickling loss of something we once had all for ourselves.

I came back, tired and hungry:less beautiful things that move the earth.

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