Today, September 22, is the Autumn Equinox, when night and day are of nearly equal length everywhere on earth. From tomorrow, in the northern hemisphere, the nights will become longer than the days, and the earth's tilt will carry us towards the long evenings of winter.
Today, summer is officially over, and autumn is here. The bright sunshine of the last few days has been replaced by a muted, cloud-filtered light. The leaves of the horse chestnuts are already a mottled brown, as though rusted in the rain; smooth, brown conkers and their spiny casings lie among the fallen leaves. The silver birches stand stark and bare. The leaves of the oak trees, always the last to fall, have turned brown at the edges. The squirrels are busy, frantic, gathering the fresh green acorns as they fall to the ground, rushing to add them to their hoard, stored safely against the lean, dark months of winter.
For me, the changing seasons mark the passing of Time. The earth, tilted, spinning on its axis, on its fixed journey round the sun - the image brings with it a relentless, ruthless idea of Time. Time does not regard my griefs, my joys. It does not know that I exist. Whether I would stop it, extend it, or whether I would beg it to go faster, Time will not comply. It will move at its own measured pace.
Sometimes, though, Time breaks its measured tread. It flies so quickly that I do not see it go. It does not seem that it has already been a month since I was in Delhi, negotiating my way through streets clogged with traffic, in the sweltering sauna-like heat that descends upon the city as the monsoons begin to taper off. It does not seem that tomorrow my daughter, Vipasha, will be fourteen.
And then, there are days that do not end - days that I spent sitting by my mother's hospital bedside, days spent in worry and grief, and sometimes even, days spent in hope.
Once in a while, Time stands still. Those are the moments to celebrate - and to be afraid of, for those are the moments of truth, the moments that change us forever. Such moments are rare, they happen perhaps once in a lifetime. When they do, hold them. Remember them. They are what makes life what it is - a celebration of the spirit.
Writing this piece, I have been drawn into a world of thoughts and memories, which are too many, too much mine, to share. I look up to see that the morning is over, that while I have been rambling, reflecting, writing, the sun has moved, the light has changed - and Time has passed.