Hattargi, Karnataka. 2011.
When the landscape hurtles to the horizon, flat and deep, for a rendezvous with the heavens where they converge to infinity, it’s never easy to determine if the clouds are coming in or going away, not in an instant anyway.
There’re no trees about for the wind to bend, nor are there leaves in a mood to oblige the nudging breeze. And if you hold your breath in the instant your eyes rove the land before you, it’s likely the expanse will root your feet where they first land for, there’s nothing to approach, nothing to get close to, and nothing that you’ll see better than you already do from where you now stand.
Yet, the landscape holds the gaze as vastness will. Nothing moves or if something indeed does it barely registers. A landscape that stills time assumes a vastness that endures the moment, prolongs it, and freezes it, rooting the eye, and the feet to the eternity of its passing.
The sheep that graze in the fields move less like individuals that they are and more like the clouds in the skies overhead, flowing together into one unyielding mass, changing shape, distending, contracting, but moving all the time, indiscernible but moving all the same, like thoughts seeking space to nest in the mind.
For a moment I wished for Sunflowers in the field, imagining the sheep grazing in a thousand Suns. It was September, and straggling monsoon clouds were playing catching up, travelling great distances over a land they had never visited before nor would they ever visit again. Come next year, other clouds would take their place, passing over farmers gathered on the steps outside their homes, their eyes to the skies, wondering and waiting for rains so they could plant jowar before the last of the clouds disappeared over the horizon.
In the moment that passed me that September day, I caught a glimpse of the land and the horizon locked into a perpetual tango, painting the landscape for travelers like me.