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The Shadows

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An article by Viajayagopal

In the good old days of the child hood it was all oil lamps. When once it is night you had to strain your eyes to look at anything. Life was unhurried too. People always finished their important works before the dusk and what remained used to be simple cooking and eating. Bed time was as early as possible because you could not move about and do anything in the light that was more of darkness. In the village you never had any bigger lamps too. There would be one hurricane lamp which is in the kitchen most of the time. Even the little reading that was done after the night fall was near the small lamp with the egg shaped glass bulb as protection.

 

Streets never were lit up like now. Still, moving about the place was not a problem at all.

Then came the electricity and robbed of the charm of the evenings and the nights. Where is the darkness unless there is a power failure?

 

Dawn is red and dusk too is red. But, there is a difference. Out of the dawn there comes a yellow glow promising you life. The day breaks like every day. But it is a new day in your life. The dusk makes you familiar with the night that is in the offing. It comes gradually and not suddenly. It makes friends with you. It takes you into it’s folds and cajoles you to a good night’s sleep. There is a tenderness in the ways of the nature unlike what happens with the technology of this creature called a man.

 

How could you appreciate the beauty of the starlit sky without the kind of darkness that is seldom found these days? Is not the sky the best wonder with all those stars and constellations asking for your attention?

 

This artificial lighting has robbed of the beauty of the life that was raw no doubt but was indeed more romantic.

 

Morning beckoned one for the day and active life. It was more realistic and mundane. The evening on the other hand called for the romantic and intellectual part of the human activity to the fore. It was in the fading light of the day that the family got together for the story by the fireside or the pastime activities that are most liked by each and every one.

It was in the evening that the much awaited rendezvous of the lovers couple took place in some obscure corner of the village away from the glare of the society. Music and dance were best enjoyed in the evening. The lighting for such occasions was as romantic as it could be. Whether it is at home or in the street or even the dance drama performed at the street corner one thing that is missing today is the essential shadow. The lights of the technological times interestingly are so good that they don’t cast any shadows. In the make believe world of film and television also there are no shadows. Otherwise life is dull without shadows. They tell us the time of the day. Was it not the sundial which gave the humans the idea of keeping track of time? Is it not the shadow that is the key behind the contraptions and constructions called Jantar Mantar?

 

Technology has robbed the beauty of darkness. The evening not well lit was the quintessence of romance of all kinds. Even now, when a music concert or a dance performance starts, the first thing to happen is the dimming of lights. In the scanty or well planned lights things appear in their real depths. Bright lights make the scene as flat as it can get. The romance of colors is also lost in too very bright lights. The twinkling of the precious stones is seen only in a dim lit ambience, definitely not in daylight or some thing that mimics daylight.

 

Have you ever noticed a religious place being invariably dim lit? Hindu temples in the south are particularly strict about avoiding the modern lighting in the inner sanctum of the temple. It is the traditional oil lamp that keeps the seen aglow. Be it a day or night the inner sanctum gives the same appearance. It is not that the ancient architects were not having sense of illumination. They had the right perception of the light and wanted it that way. Invariably the temples are in a place where the approach is not easy. The outer area of the place may be lit by the sun in the day and there may perhaps be some artificial lighting there in the nights too. Then you find the way winding into the inner sanctum. Even in a small temple you are not allowed very near the god. You take your time to reach the place and are already in a mental state to get mesmerised by the glow of the god. The flickering oil lamp increases the feeling to a further height and puts in you a much needed feeling of awe. God whether decorated or not gives you a mystic appearance. In all those marble clad north Indian temples which are well lit where one is allowed to touch the feet of the god. The proximity really robs the feeling of devotion.

 

Darkness sure has a brighter side to it. Otherwise all those star hotels will not opt for a lighting arrangement which is an intelligent supply of darkness rather than brightness. The light and sound shows arranged at some of those monuments are taking the onlookers into a make believe world and are making them participants in the drama enacted. They never remain mere spectators.

 

Whenever you want to be yourself you would like to be in the darkness. A film director if intelligent plays with the light and the darkness to create a scene that is not possible with bright lights. You should only like to like the darkness. It will bring out many things from the corners of your brain which will usually lie there hidden.

 

Recently when the travellers in the space ship could see the light and dark sides of the earth together from a vantage point, the image created ripples in the minds of people. Darkness is not absence of light. Light is not absence of darkness.

 

Without the darkness and the light together, there is no variation or the scene that you see every moment you see something. Shadows are not what you think. Shadows are not what you see. There are many shadows which you do not percieve but it is the shadows which create the depth in the vision. It is the shadows which create the feeling in the vision.

 

 

This is one of the rare English articles by me!