The Day of Silence

The morning sunlight that spilled through the curtain bathed my bed in its early glow. I opened my eyes to the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves faraway. Nobody worked in the rice fields today. Nobody started their motorbikes’ engines. Nobody shouted from the neighboring village. The world and its familiar noise disappeared.

At first, I thought: “How silent it was!”

But soon, the silence was filled with the hum of the refrigerator, the song of the cicadas, the buzzing of the bees flying around the bougainvilleas… and I could hear a bird (that perched itself on the branch of the frangipani tree) flapping its wings.

It was the Day of Silence for the Hindu Balinese. Nyepi; retreating from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. And the whole island was resting. Everybody stayed home. Everything was closed (even the airport!). Internet and phone signals were shut down. Lights were turned off.

I sipped my coffee downstairs, surrounded by the Ibu’s orchids, listening to mantras from my headphones while journaling my thoughts for the day. This was the first day since the Covid-19 outbreak that I didn’t start my morning by checking my phone for the latest updates. Today, the world was limited only to the one in front of me: the rice fields, the garden, the orchids, the terrace. I didn’t (and couldn’t) know anything past this.

***

I spent the rest of the day reading Ali Wong’s Dear Girls and Katherine Marsh’s Nowhere Boy, napping, doing yoga (for creativity), preparing lunch (rice) and dinner (pasta), meditating, and finally, at night, after showering, I went out to the upstairs balcony with my husband to gaze at the stars.

As all the lights stayed off across the island, the sky was now full of these glimmering specks and twinkling dust. From the rice field, the fireflies came into view, flickering.

It was magical.

At that moment, I felt so connected to everything above and beyond our world, our Universe. After weeks of uncertainties, of going about my days while trying to navigate my fears and worries, last night I finally felt fine.

It dawned on me that the stars had always been there. The sky I could see from the upstairs balcony had always looked THAT magical. I just didn’t notice it on regular days because the lights that surrounded me dimmed the radiance of the stars.

But it was always the same sky; with the same amount of stars.

***

Sometimes, to see the stars, we need to turn off the lights and be in the dark for a while. Maybe, that is what we’re experiencing at the moment. I wish, in this situation, I can choose to see not only the darkness but also the stars.

I hope you are, too.

Hanny

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