Nobody can dim your star or stop your sun

New Delhi, India, 28 January 2002, late afternoon. There is a nagging light that I have been trying to switch off in vain.

I arrived in Mumbai, or Bombay as we knew the place in our youth, at dawn. I transferred flights and eventually touched down in the mysterious Delhi in the late morning, tired like a hound.

What with six hours of being sandwiched in my economy cabin full of free-for-all pestilential gaseous emissions!

You understand why I have been trying to sleep through the afternoon. We left Nairobi at midnight. That means we lost the night and the sleep.

And now another three and a half hours lost, as Delhi is ahead of Nairobi by as much time. Lethargy is the one word that describes the feeling flowing through my essence. Sleep is what I want most. But then, there is this light. I don’t know how to sleep with the lights on.  

I have groped everywhere near the bed for the switch, to no avail. With one final effort, I open my eyes and haul myself out of bed to look for the switch.

That is when I discovered that it is sunlight. The afternoon sunlight is seeping in through an opening in the curtains. Aha! So I have been trying to switch off the sun! Who has ever done that? 

I have read of Joshua, the biblical man of God, stopping the sun to allow him to finish a war.

But have I also not read biblical exegetes who have offered the opinion that this Joshua is the same essence that is Jesus Christ and the prophet called Isaiah? You don’t elevate yourself to those levels and begin meddling with the sun. 

I have also read the poet Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), who said to his coy mistress, “...though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run.”

Really? Who does that? Making the sun run?

The smitten marvellous Marvell must intend this only as hyperbole. Nobody can make the sun run less still, stop him or switch him off.

The sun has made his daily forays across the sky for eon years. Nobody knows when he began.

Yet, every day, a child born under the sun imagines that he invented the bright floating ball. In truth, the sun was always there.

And long, long after we are all gone and forgotten, the sun will still be cutting across the skies, with different fortunes for different folks. 

I have learned that this is the way of life. You did not make the sun, so how will you switch him off?

How will you restore the sun to factory settings? India taught me that you can’t. She also taught me that it is a star-studded Milky Way galaxy.

Each of the bright heavenly bodies has its own place, its own role. And everything is written in these bodies. They align howsoever they wish, with consequences.

No human, no force, can make them change in their constellation. Orion the Great Hunter and Leo the Lion look down at earthlings from high up there the same way, in Emanyulia and in New Delhi. Taurus the Bull is recognisable just the same way from no matter where! And we say of everything that is written in the stars. Hence, as the wise man who wrote the Desiderata said, “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste… With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful universe.”

Be cheerful, be happy. Nobody can dim your star, or stop your sun – or even make them brighter! 

-Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor.