23 July 2015

A question is a boat, a jet, a space ship or a heart

This is the thirty eighth in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Where does the wind start?  Where does the wind end? Do we know? Does it matter?  There are questions like that.  Questions without answer.  Like the beginning and end points of a rainbow.  Or roads that seem to disappear but as we come closer to that ‘disappearing point’ stretch before us, and the ‘end point’ appearing further away and yet further away.  

What’s beyond the tree line on either side of a road that cuts through paddy fields?  Have you wondered?  What happens to the fish when reservoirs go dry and how do fish find their way into these very same places when the monsoon fills them up?  

The world is made of questions.  Sure, there are answers to a lot of the questions above, but there are some questions that can’t be answered or rather there are answers but they are not very convincing.  Indeed, sometimes there can be more than a single answer to a single question and they all sound quire sensible.  

So it’s ok if you can’t find answers to everything.  It’s ok if answers aren’t quite satisfactory. It’s ok if you find that there are multiple answers to a single question.  What’s wonderful about questions and answers is that they make us think.  They feed our imaginations.  They take us to places we didn’t know existed.  

Let’s just think about the first two questions raised at the beginning.  

Where does the wind start and where does it end?  We see a tree bend, we see lots of leaves falling and we find our hair blowing in all directions.  ‘It’s the wind!’ we say.  Harsh, monsoonal winds can uproot trees.  Cyclonic winds can take off roofs and bring down houses.  But sometimes we do notice a tiny leaf trembling on a branch and then again we think, ‘it’s the wind’.  A wispy breath of wind.  

Yes, it is the wind but do we know where it began?  Do we know when it began?  No, we don’t know.  But it is nice to ask ourselves ‘when did it begin?’  It is even more interesting to wonder who else was touched by this very same wind and what those who were touched thought about the wind, whether or not they too asked such questions from themselves.  

Think of a breeze or a part of it that made a tiny leaf tremble or a mighty tree fall or shook off early morning dew from a cobweb spun during the night to connect two branches of a small bush.    Was it this same breeze or perhaps its cousin or a friend that conjured dust devils in some dirt road in the driest part of the Dry Zone?  Was it a grandfather or nephew of the wind that gathered the world furies and turned itself into a tornado in Texas or a cyclone that hit Bangladesh?  Was it the same wind which, long before it visited your garden without invitation, swept across the Steppes or bent the ripe wheat in some part of North America?  

How many cheeks of how many sailors from how many countries in how many seas and how many centuries did this wind whip on dreadful nights when black clouds completely hid the moon?   There are endless questions like this that can be created from a simple question such as ‘where does the wind start?’  We might not stumble upon an answer, and yet the question can take us to many places, different continents, over hills and across oceans to another century, either from the part or well into the future.  

There could be a child in the 23rd Century who might ask the same kind of question.  Who knows, perhaps he might think of a little girl who saw a tiny leaf tremble and let her mind float on that tiny breeze to wonderful places and wonderful people.  Perhaps that little boy of the 23rd Century might meet the little girl somewhere in the 22nd Century.  They might meet when the sun is setting and wonder if it was the wind or a dream or something else that pushed the sun from one end of the sky to the other.  They might know that this had nothing to do with the wind, but they might still imagine, laugh and still feel that the world is full of magic. 

Other articles in this series