From where I sit on my couch, I can see a vast expanse of the river. But when it’s evening, like now, the lights start dimming in the distance and the darkness closes in slowly, smothering the sunny day that is a thing of the past now.
It dawns on me why dusk is a sad time for most people.
The lights begin to twinkle in the distance, everything loses colour slowly and turns a shade of grey. People and dogs moving about the river bank start slowly turning into stick figures of black and the boats lose their shape blending in with the dark river only marked by their lights.
The mystery of the day is gone. What is about to happen? What will the day bring? It’s all a known set of facts to be stowed away somewhere. Complete. Done. Never to be repeated or revised.
I chance upon an article that has an excerpt from Kafka called “A Little Fable.” It makes me feel like he is writing about dusk.
“Alas,” said the mouse, “the world gets smaller every day. At first it was so wide that I ran along and was happy to see walls appearing to my right and left, but these high walls converged so quickly that I’m already in the last room, and there in the corner is the trap into which I must run.
“But you’ve only got to run the other way,” said the cat, and ate it.
It seems to me as though that last room is dusk.
But this is too final for this calm and mellow mood. I must find another quote.
Dusk here, next to the river, is a quiet time. At least from where I’m sitting. I know that it isn’t quiet for everyone.
Even as I write, a brightly lighted boat moves rather slowly through the water, in contrast to the swiftly criss-crossing ferries, in a somewhat directionless way. That boat has people merry-making (isn’t that such an old-fashioned word just like this mood is I’m in?) I hear all kinds of loud music from those boats sometimes floating down the river in English, Spanish and Hindi out of the ones I can recognize. I know that in the city people are welcoming this evening with eagerness because it’s a day after a long week of work. It’s Friday. (Now why does that make me think of “What Work Is” by Philip Levine? I don’t know.)
But that boat only puts into relief the darkness that is all around.
Here, where I am sitting, I am thinking of two stanzas from an old poem by Tennyson that suits this mood perfectly and that tells me that melancholy is not always a bad thing. Melancholy has value. Melancholy is beautiful.
It’s okay to be melancholy at dusk.
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
. . .
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
. . .