Thursday, May 28, 2020

Of Heavens Above and Stories


Back in 2014, I put my own interpretation of Judaculla Rock on canvas and posted the result here.  Who would have guessed that the image would reach a blogger in Pakistan who reflected on that star-map view. Zeeshan Ahmed posted this on September 26, 2015:


As I looked at the celestial objects, up-close, I wondered. I wondered of all the ages, and the people, who had seen it before. I thought of the prehistoric times, when the heavens were brightly lit, and had no artificial, manufactured light to pollute them. I thought of the people who looked above and wondered. They imagined all these fantastic stories, and attempted to give a meaning to everything they saw above. They saw the whole sky as a canvas on which there were these lights, and strange mists. They moved, every night, until the sun came up. The giant, yellow ball of light, hid everything else, until it disappeared and gave way to the celestial painting again.

Not all of them wondered about the heavens, I believe. Like today, there were these people, storytellers, if you will, who wanted to come up with the reason why the ceiling was the way it was, and why it was there. And why this ceiling anyway, which is such a wonderful sight, and not mere emptiness? Oh, imagine if there was nothing above, and just plain darkness. Of course, if that had been the case, we wouldn’t have come up with all these glorious myths, the kind we know of today. There would have been some other kind. These storytellers, I tell you, always find a way to come up with truly amazing tales.

So, if a storyteller belonging to those early days, were here, what would he say? Of course, he would be really surprised at the current state of the world, and its inhabitants. But I will try to keep him far away from the modern world, and ask him questions. I will ask him what he saw in the night sky and what fascinated him. Perhaps, he will tell me that the shimmering dots had their own tales. How some were grouped together, and some were far away. How that misty, hazy pathway above was a gateway to some other world. Then, he might get excited and tell me about these streaks of light which appear, and then vanish. He would perhaps tell me that these were little wanderers who jumped from here and there. They travelled quickly and left behind this wonderful trail of light. At that moment, I will think of these ‘streaks of light’ and think of him, and other such storytellers. Who keep jumping between stories, and worlds, and always have a lot to share with rest of the people. Oh, how fascinating indeed!