I fell asleep to the sounds of thunder ripping apart the skies, and to the pitter-patter of rain soothing its pains. The vaporous veil of sleep fluttered against my eyelids and I fell gently into unconsciousness, the way a feather flutters to the ground.
Later, I awoke to a semi-realistic world and to puddles left on my balcony. My fingers, which had been so gently stained by watercolour, probed the cool surface. Once, a younger version of me had believed that there were forgotten cities and dormant forests hidden on the other side of puddles. That, if you weren’t careful (or if came your time for an adventure) your curious, probing finger would get sucked into whole other worlds. Other times, an older, quieter me would glide her fingers over these cool puddles and believe they were portals to places where it had also rained in the world. But not many people knew that.
I imagined my heart growing, aching as it did, as I left the lonely morning in my part of the world to reach a cold balcony bathed in night, in some restless city. And right there, would be another version of me. Someone who did not look like me, who did not speak the language I did, who did not believe the things I did. But someone just like me in all the ways that mattered. Someone with a flickering inner light, cloaked in gentle loneliness.
There would be wonder. Delight. Two flickering lights would halfway meet, and like the dying fire of two candles, would each rekindle the other. There was a lot of quietness, of bathing in the soft glow of unspoken friendship, of not being alone on cold nights.
But there was an ache, too. The piercing constriction and expansion of hearts growing redder, fuller. As the night wore on, dreams and fears spilled into the milky way, over the city. There was something so simple and yet so singularly important about it. About sharing an overwhelming loneliness into the uncaring night.
The stars witnessed it all.
But they never saw the goodbyes that were really farewells, the “sleep wells” that veritably meant: “Please have a good life, be happy. I’m rooting for you.”. Because it was only by morning that the puddles would dry and life on the other side would call. And we would never meet again. Because the same kind of rain never falls twice.
And now, today, on my balcony, as I watch the clear yet somber skies, I remember all the people I have thought of in my life. All those idle moments when I realised: “Oh! It’s someone’s birthday today!” or “Someone in the world is doing the exact thing I am doing right now.” and “I wonder how many other people are watching the exact same moon in this moment.”.
So know that if one day you’ve wondered about a stranger on the other side of the world, if you’ve lived through 2 a.ms that seemed surreal and strangely detached, if one lonely night you have thought of me, I have thought of you, too.