It was beautiful. Yuvaan could smell the typical mountain air and he inhaled deeply as if, to fill his lungs with as much of it as possible. The trees with all shades of green, the sunlight making myriad designs on the mountains and the valley, the chill in the air, all this was a bit too heady for him. Mountains always had some magical effect on Yuvaan and his face truly reflected this now. Oblivious to the people around, he started humming his favorite tunes, as the bus he was traveling in, kept climbing up the mountains.
He was jerked out of his reverie and he cast a glance around to find that his bus had halted at the penultimate stop of his destination. His eyes then, met a pair of eyes, on the face of an elderly man, may be in his early eighties, sitting next to him. The eyes had depths of love, longing, a slight hesitant, lurking joy and unmistakable sadness. Yuvaan had never seen such contrasting emotions, together, ever before. The man smiled at him, “You sing so well. You have such melody in your voice.”
“Thank you , Sir.” Yuvaan reacted a bit quickly, for he was drowned in the pool of emotions staring blankly, at him.
“ You seem to play the harmonica too,” the man said, pointing out to the harmonica hanging from his neck. The harmonica was a constant feature, whenever Yuvaan was on a holiday.
“Yes Sir, I play the harmonica,” replied Yuvaan.
“Ah lovely!” exclaimed the old man.
The bus had started moving again and in another thirty minutes or so, it would reach it’s destination. Yuvaan and the man got talking. Yuvaan told him about himself that music was his passion and that he was lucky to have his vocation as his avocation as well. Music was his love; Music was his profession. He had a band of his own with the name, ‘ The Nada’, meaning the first vibration of the Universe. It was a very popular band and they played in countries all over the world. At present, he was going to attend the wedding of one of his band mates, in this mountain village.
The old man, Mr. Sujoy, speaking about his own self said that he had two sons, both settled abroad. He used to be a doctor by profession and he too loved music. His wife had died ten years back and for the last seven years , he had been living in a home for the aged; ‘The Dusk’, in this mountain village. He further said that he had a grandson, twenty five years old, about the same age as Yuvaan, he guessed. Yuvaan reminded him of his grandson, he said softly. At present, he had gone to the town , on his monthly trip to the town hall library there and was returning now.
The bus reached the last stop. All the passengers alighted. Yuvaaan had to walk another two kilometers, to reach his friend, Vipin’s house. Mr. Sujoy’s home was just a quarter of a kilometer away from the bus stop. Mr Sujoy started walking home, with his stick and Yuvaan as his company. Very soon, Yuvaan could see, ‘The Dusk,’ a nice building, nestled among the greens of the mountains. They reached the gate and on Mr. Sujoy’s insistence, Yuvaan went in. The evening was setting in. Yuvaan could see many elderly people, men as well as women, seated here and there in the living space around the reception. Some of them were reading, a few were playing cards, scrabble and even ludo, some were watching the television and some were just sitting, doing nothing.
Many of the residents, greeted Mr. Sujoy, warmly. Mr. Sujoy, in turn, introduced Yuvaan as a very ‘Gifted Musician.’ Immediately some of them, very enthusiastically, requested Yuvaan to sing for them. Yuvaan had to reach Vipin’s place for a pre-wedding function, so he excused himself and promised to return for sure, anytime within his three-day stay.. Taking leave, Yuvaan headed towards Vipin’s home, as fast as his legs could take him.
Yuvaan’s mind was completely occupied by Mr. Sujoy, The Dusk and its residents. Mr Sujoy’s eyes kept haunting him. It seemed that they were speaking volumes to Yuvaan. He was experiencing a whole gamut of emotions. Mr. Sujoy’s eyes had exposed a very different and alien world that Yuvaan, so far, was oblivious to.
The wedding festivities managed to draw Yuvaan intermittently. Vipin was his school friend and the two of them had started the band, ‘The Naad.’ It was fun to be a part of his marriage for Yuvaan had never seen a Pahadi wedding before. Seema made a pretty bride and Vipin and she really looked beautiful together. Yuvaan knew that Vipin had fallen in love with Seema’s voice before actually meeting her. He had heard her sing at a cousin’s wedding and never could forget the voice. So much so that he managed to locate her and here the two were married, with infnite love in their eyes for each other. The wedding got over. Yuvaan took leave of Vipin to catch the bus for town. While crossing, ‘The Dusk,’ Yuvaan involuntarily turned towards its gate and entered it. Mr. Sujoy was there in the garden, tending to some flower pots. On seeing Yuvaan, his eyes lit up. He quickly cleaned his hands and came and hugged Yuvaan and took him to the living room where the others were present. All eyes turned towards him and the ones that he had met the other day, came eagerly to meet him. Their warmth was infectious. Yuvaan was soon basking in their love. He sang a few songs for them, played his harmonica too. Everyone was clapping, shouting in pure glee. Yuvaan was wonder struck seeing the joy on their faces. It seemed that all of them had been transported to some magical world. Their hugs and blessing left Yuvaan, overwhelmed. Much to everyone’s disappointment, it was time for Yuvaan to leave, for he could no way, miss the last bus for the day. Amidst bye byes, wishes and laughter, Yuvaan shut the gate of ‘The Dusk’ and ran towards the bus stop, just about managing to jump onto the last bus.
Yuvaan plunged back into his routine, though only physically. He was unable to get ‘The Dusk,’ out of his mind. He could feel their pain of loneliness, longing for their loved ones and Yuvaan could not rest in peace. His turmoil added more passion and raw element to his music that took it to a much higher level. He kept dishing out chart buster albums, one after the other. He could not give dates for shows and had to refuse many. His calendar for the next two years, was choc-o-block. But Yuvaan knew no peace. He did not know what to do.
One night, suddenly, he woke up. He had a clear mind and knew what he had to do. He called his manager and much to his bewilderment, asked him to make arrangements for his travel, with his band, for the very next day, to the mountain village where he had met Mr. Sujoy. Yuvaan, with his band reached ‘The Dusk,’ the next evening. Everyone there was taken aback to see all of them. Yuvaan was beaming with joy when he and his band performed there that very night. ‘The Dusk’ was throbbing with excitement. It was long past their sleep hours but all hands were busy clapping, cheering and many feet were tapping to the vibrant music being played there. The mountains seemed to come alive with music. After hours of such enjoyment and entertainment, everyone, including ‘The Naad’ fell asleep. Somehow it seemed the hands and feet could not match up and keep pace with the hearts that were still dancing.
Since that evening, the second Saturday of every month, ‘The Naad,’ would arrive at ‘The Dusk,’ to give an exclusive performance for the residents there, spend the Sunday morning with them and return in the evening. Life changed for the inmates at ‘The Dusk.’ They became so much more cheerful and interested in life. They would wait excitedly for ‘The Naad’ to come, every second weekend of the month. They would cook special food for the band members, who in turn would always come loaded with flowers, clothes,books, sweets, chocolates and most precious of all, exclusive time for the residents. They would sit and talk with them, play with them and make them happy with their special care.
The band, ‘ The Naad,’ succeeded in striking the chords of life, again in each one of the residents of ‘The Dusk.’
It was indeed a new dawn at ‘The Dusk.’