06 November 2018

Who really makes clouds and why do shadows keep moving?

Several years ago, I wrote a regular column for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The editor of JEANS, Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna now handles the 'Littlestars' tabloid distributed with 'The Sunday Morning'. This is the second article for Littlestars.  Scroll down to find the full series of articles written for JEANS and the those of this new series.

Where do clouds come from, who makes them? Who put the moon up there in the sky? What happens to the stars when the night is over? Why are leaves made of different colors and shapes? Who makes shade and why do shadows keep moving? 

If you ask an adult, say a parent, an older sibling or cousin, or a teacher, you’ll get answers to such questions. They call it science. It’s a good to get answers to questions that begin with ‘why’ or ‘where’ or ‘how’. 

You need to know the scientific explanations. When you know more about reasons for things that happen around you, you can use that knowledge to understand a lot of things. If someone asks you how ‘shade’ is made, you can use a torch and a some object to explain to that person how ‘shade happens’.  That might help you understand how a lunar or solar eclipse happens.  

There’s a lot you know already and there’s much more for you to still learn. When you start asking questions that begin with ‘why’ or ‘where’ or ‘how’ you are actually exploring the world around you. It’s a fascinating thing, as you probably know. 

But it’s also fun to come up with your own explanations. Your friends might laugh and adults might correct you and tell you the scientific truth about it, but you’ll still have fun. If you are shy and don’t want people to tease you, don’t tell anyone. Just keep it to yourself. 

So, let’s go back to our original set of questions.

Where do clouds come from, who makes them? Who put the moon up there in the sky? What happens to the stars when the night is over? Why are leaves made of different colors and shapes? Who makes shade and why do shadows keep moving? 

I’m sure you can come up with your own theories when answering these questions. I will tell you what I like to think. 

Clouds. I like to think that they made of the breath of all the newborn babies in the world. The moon: my little daughter once said that the sky is a big canvas and that the full moon is a big round hole in that canvas, that stars being pinprick-size holes. I think it’s a searchlight that’s switched on and off by naughty angels.  Stars: isn’t it nice to think that stars spend their entire lives visiting planets all over the universe, going to each one only when it’s night on that particular planet? 

Leaves: they are like people. People are different from each other.  You don’t look like your best friend. You might look like your father or mother or both, but there are differences. Leaves are like that. A leaf of a mango tree doesn’t look like that of the guava tree. Gotukola doesn’t like like mukunuvenna, nivithi, thebu, saarana, thampalaa, kankun or the hundreds of leafy greens we eat as mallun.

‘But there are identical twins!’

Oh yes. There are.  Same with leaves.  The leaves of the same tree look pretty identical, right?  Well, maybe leaves ARE alive. Maybe they talk to each other. Maybe they look at us and ask themselves the same kinds of questions! Maybe it’s the same with shades.  Maybe, just like we change clothes, shades change shape and size just to look better.  Maybe they are just playing a game with each other or have decided to play a game with us, making us think about things in different ways!

Your explanations would probably be more fascinating, right? Remember that even scientific explanations can be interesting. In fact they might be even more fascinating than the kinds of explanations that are not considered to be ‘scientific’!


Articles for THE NATION
A puddle is a canvas
Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table