(Excerpts from my diary)
from where I can see the riverfront and feel a cup of coffee
in the hands of the person sitting at another table…
I have seen the golden finial shining above the old and faded dome from an abandoned office window, then I saw it from my flatmate’s window, which was full of hand prints pushing the glass away, to somehow get closer, to the lake and the silent, standing alone light besides the ruin, in need of no one else. This was night time.
I bought a home version mini telescope to watch the stars at night but there are no stars living in the city sky. The rent and the deposit are too high. So the next day, I turned the lens downwards, towards the land.
As I watch the old monument’s backside from the lens, 4 men appeared, they were tying white handkerchiefs on their heads, one of them raised his hands in dua, and another one was simply standing idle, it was hot noon. They were laughing, pushing each other, wearing their shoes, then they turned their backs on me, and soon, the shed behind the mosque was empty as before.
You can see it, it won’t disappear, except at night. When a bright white light shines like a talisman, protecting all those, those who must mean something to it.
People, kings, and makers will come and go. It needs no one. Eternal, watching it, it gives me strength, like itself.
The place looks like there must be a caretaker there, who turns on the lamp at sunset. He took birth in the village when this place was being conceived. That is what happens in my imagination as I imagine seeing him walking in the courtyard, towards the location of the powerful switch, and a moment later, I watch the light shine, which was dark just an eye blink before. So I did not blink.
I have seen roads being built, men carrying containers of cement on their heads, all reaching near it but never, somehow, to it.
The lake stands still, like a magical hallucination that you must never cross. You only watch and imagine a story, from afar. Such as may be, there used to be two villages, one on each side of the lake, taking water from the bowl, to create food and livelihood. One was named Makarba.
But what is the story of Sarkhej Roza? What went through the mind of its architect? How did his childhood, the buildings and structures he had seen growing up, affect the monument, and its art?
Who was the sultan? More importantly, did he know while proudly breaking mud to create a piece of art and a place of worship, that one day, time will ruin it? He imagined legacy.
Ahmedabad is spread out in front of me. But all that I recognize in the jungle of cement is Sarkhej Roza. That is the power of heritage. It’s buried in muck, dirt, and single boys.
It’s a spiritual realm being used for the holy purposes of collecting garbage.
I hear the Azan from afar.