One of the first rhymes that many children learn is the all-time favorite ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’. An earliest activity they learn to do is to point out to the sky when they are asked, “Where is the Moon?” or “Where is the star?”. Based on the toddlers I have encountered, most even learn to say the words ‘star’ and ‘moon’ before they can say ‘mum’ or ‘dad’. That’s how fascinated we are with the universe right from infancy. A star-filled sky, to me, is as close as it gets to real magic. One of my nieces used to stretch out her arm towards the moon and open her palm praying intently for gifts. And just like her, we have all grown up believing in the magic of the moon and the stars.
There simply can’t be any human who is not allured by the sky. In our darkest or the liveliest nights, we must look up at the twinkling stars or the moon in its different shapes and be enigmatized. I am only now realizing what a big fan I am of the moon and the stars because here in Dubai, we cannot see stars on most nights because the city is so well-lit. I check on the moon every night and my spirit leaps in excitement whenever, on a random night, I can spot a couple of the brightest stars.
At the age of 17, after my schooling in my hometown, I decided to go to college in a different state. My sister had accompanied me to Shillong (just about 230 miles away) to help with the admission. We were travelling on an overnight bus and it was a painful journey for me because I was missing home miserably. I had started doubting my decision of going away from home. Between tear drops, I would look out of the window to look at the moon and the stars until finally I thought of something that just might had given me the strength to carry on.
I thought, everything was going to change but at least the same moon and the same stars that shone over Kohima will also shine over Shillong. So, whenever I looked at them, I would imagine my loved ones looking at the same thing and my heart would just warm up in comfort. The most beautiful things do come out at the darkest times.
I sometimes think that if only I had stars to stare at night, my transition into a Dubai resident would had been less difficult. It isn’t an exaggerated statement when I say that I felt despair and suffocation at the thought of there being no stars in the sky. It was unimaginable for me to picture children who would miss the simple distraction of looking and pointing at stars. When we first point out the moon and the stars to a child, we open the gateway of ‘wonders’ and imagination, the starting qualities of a happy person.
The sky with all its adornments, also teaches us plenty in its own amazing ways. Last weekend, we had gone for outdoor camping in a nearby mountain in Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven emirates of UAE, and spent the night marveling the millions of stars and the thin crescent as if it was our first time seeing them. Next day, my husband and I discussed how humbling the vastness of the universe was. The unknown and the possibilities, the ‘What ifs’ just bowls me over with gratitude and reminds me of my insignificance.