We have been wandering here and there since morning instead of taking any interest in any viewpoint. Our shoes, sacks and tresses are tinged in red of the Matheran earth. But I do want to watch sunset. So sunset point is the destination now.
“Kids! Come back. Sun is getting late. It has to go, else Americans will bomb us that we kept the sun for more time than our fair share.” I try this one after failing to keep them on the trek to sunset point.
“Will it Mamma?” younger one asks, having found, well, heard something more interesting than their adventurous detours in woods.
“It may. If sun gets late, President’s kids will keep on sleeping and they will miss the school bus. Then the president will have to drop them. Then he will be late for the office. He will send the spies to find out who delayed the sun. They will find that sun was waiting for two kids who had promised that they would come to say goodbye.”
Kids chuckle and follow me, expanding the story all the time, and laughter is tired of our ‘more than reasonable’ use of her. The eldest male in the group feels a proud husband for a change from feeling proud father all the time.
We march ahead to the sunset view point.
It looks we have arrived somewhere else. An assembly of horses is going on and the horseman are waiting for the nobles of this assembly. I do not want to be an uninvited guest and ask one horseman.
“Where is the sunset point?”
“Here madam here.” He points to the way beyond the assembly.
I double check it and herd my family around the ‘noble group’ to reach the ‘way’.
Aha! This must be the sunset point. Where else can you find so many people if not at a view point? Certainly not on the mud treks, dirtying their leather boots, Kolhapuris, peep toes and stilettos?
Some of these (people, not horses) are near the juice stalls, fruit stalls, chai wallas and many at cold-drink wallas. They are hungry by now, having ridden upon the horses all the day, galloping from one view point to another. I realize, horse riding must be an energy consuming job.
There is a barricade at the brink of the ‘sunset point’ hill, lest people fall in the valley, mad by the red in the sky. There is ample space to enjoy the sunset for all: men, women, children, horses and monkeys. Everyone has more or less a chance of finding a good corner to sit but in solitude. It so happens that monkeys decide to practice acrobatics at the barricade and thus occupy the prime position, sending all the humans back. Humans for sure have more mind and climb atop all the small hillocks to get the ‘best’ view. Poor horses! They are tired of carrying the living load for the whole day and bored of seeing the sunset every evening; they just stand at one place together like gentlemen.
My kids too want to climb up a hillock so we choose one that by any chance will not topple down in the valley. And it has the added advantage of overlooking the horse assembly besides the valley view.
Sun, who has perfected its part of this daily theater, now takes the center stage between two distant hills. Lighting arrangement is continuously changing now, turning to red and orange, in different tonal settings.
One gentleman on a hillock feels so happy by this performance that he takes out a biscuit packet and throws it to the monkeys. A troop of monkeys arrive at the hillock and displace all its occupants. Now the monkeys bicker and the people quibble.
Out of the earshot of this battleground, Sun is rendering the last lines of its role, basking in soothing deep orange-red light.
The ‘click-click-click’ reverberate from the hills to the valleys. This affects the horses deeply. Many raise the tail. The sound of cascading water and thump of droppings resonate in the atmosphere. An aromatic breeze fills the hills and lingers on.
The sun is unable to bear this display of affection and decides to disappear quickly. Suddenly I smell the red earth and find that my palms have stood up to the moment to protect my nostrils to let my eyes enjoy the splash of red-orange colour that sun has thrown behind.
Watching the sunset turns out to be a laborious work for people. After all, it is no an easy thing to throw the sun from here to the USA. Many throng to the food stalls and others mount on their horses. Monkeys now are not interested in the valley anymore and give company to the hungry people. Everyone at once wants his or her ordered food. The vendors appoint a small battalion armed with a stick and a catapult. All enjoy their food amidst the heavy protection.
The Great Matheran Sunset is over.