Counting Stars

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.


“I live in a big and a beautiful city.”
My younger brother wrote this line in his notebook when he was told to write an essay about “His City”. The two adjectives used by him could not stop me from asking him what did he exactly mean when he wrote those words? So, he smirked at me and said, “Big because it is really big and is the capital of two states and we have really huge malls here, and beautiful because (a long pause), can you not see the roads? Don’t tell me you have forgotten about the last year’s visit to grandma’s?”, and he continued to write his essay.

His answer made me sad because my grandma lives in a village and we live here, in this big and beautiful city. A few years ago, we used to visit her in every six months. This was before my brother was born, but now due to our school schedules and dad’s office we visit her only if something special happens, like last year it was her fiftieth marriage anniversary so we had to be there.
Basically, my brother like most of the people, has never experienced the alluring life of village. Not that I am undermining the city life but a person should also see a village and know what he/she is missing out on.

I don’t usually take matters seriously but this one thing touched the wrong strings. So, for the sake of my brother I decided to make a list of all the things that my cousins and I used to do at grandma’s.
My brother was busy eating his ice cream after dinner. This is usually his “me time” and I thought this was the perfect time to hand him this list. He started to read it out loud and then our conversation went something like this :

He : Waking up to the singing birds, bathing in tube wells, watching hens lay eggs and then having ’em for breakfast”, he paused and looked at me from behind the list and gave me a sarcastic smile.
He : You don’t have to lie.
Me : I am not.
He : Watching hens lay eggs and then having ’em for breakfast. Really?
Me : What? Bet you have never touched ’em all brown and warm.
He : Uh! Don’t want to.
Me : Read on.
He : Moving on, we have – watching the servant milk the cows, riding the home bred horses (no exaggeration),..
I stopped listening to him and looked at his face for his silly expressions. Initially, the list didn’t interest him much and he was just reading it mindlessly, but I waited patiently for there was one thing which I knew would catch his attention and it did.
He : You don’t tell me!
Me : As a matter of fact, I just did.
He : I don’t believe you.
Me : You don’t have to.
Then, I got up from the chair to leave.
He : Wait!
Me : What?
He : Well, okay. Let’s say, I believe you.
He was bluffing.
Me : Go to hell.
We swear in front of each other. A lot.
He : Please, I want to know more.
Me : Okay.

Actually, the thing is that my brother is ten and is a big Disney movie buff and you people might know how all the Disney movies begin. With stars. They begin with a castle made of stars and sometimes, they even end with someone usually looking up at a sky full of stars and praying and all that $#it.

Coming back to the topic, my brother has never seen stars apart from movies or photos because he has never left the big and the beautiful city. He did not even know that they existed until he made a friend whose father is an astronomer. Turns out that his father is always taking his friend to magical little trips at nights, to far away mysterious lands to watch stars and other beautiful celestial bodies. As far as my brother’s hunger is concerned, he gets to satisfy it by the pictures his friend and his father have clicked.
What had actually triggered all this is that I had written a little point in the list.
“Gazing at the stars all through the night.”

Naturally, after reading this my brother went bonkers and lost his effing mind but he tried to keep his calm. But I didn’t mind it a bit because I would also have done the same thing. Then I told him how we used to go on the terrace to sleep and not actually sleep and stay awake till dawn under the endless ocean of stars catching up with each other and telling each other spooky stories. But my personal favorite was when we used to tip toe into star lit kitchen and have the left overs as midnight snacks and while eating how we used to count the stars and the person with the largest count got something extra to eat. Then, when finally we used to run out of everything to do, we used to sleep under the watchful gaze of those millions of divine stars.
Having heard all of this my brother ran to mom and asked her when will we be visiting grandma again. She told him “very soon”, which was a lie, but to him it wasn’t and I kept it that way.