Starry Starry Night

Anchit Som
11 min readJan 1, 2019

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The night had been spent partying at the little shack on the outskirts of the city. Avinash’s friends had found this little place after a long struggle. The party to his surprise was also attended by Zoya. It was awkward at first and would be till the very end so they did not talk much. As they were leaving Deb suggested Zoya to hop into Avinash’s car as she lived near his house. They got onto his car and drove silently without a word when suddenly they heard the engine make a glaring noise. The car brokedown near a small catchment and none of their phones were showing any carrier strength. Avinash got off the car tried to fix it, but he couldn’t figure out anything about the engine or the car with his BSc. They were stuck in the middle of the road and couldn’t call anyone. Zoya, got out of the car for some fresh air and calmly accepted the fact that they would have to wait till they can call for help in the deserted place.

As the curse of technology’s absence dawned upon them, they finally got talking. And what really got them talking wasn’t people or people’s lives, but something way farther than that. “Don’t the stars look pretty tonight” “I study stars for a living, they all look the same to me” said Avinash. “Yes Dr. Avinash, but please don’t ruin the night sky with your rocket science” “Oh god, please don’t call it rocket science, it’s a Ph.D. in Astrophysics,” says Avinash defending his 2 years of hard work. “You sound more boring than my ex-boyfriend,” says Zoya. “Wait. I am your ex-boyfriend” Avinash says but suddenly realizes the subtle insult in that statement and manages to follow it with “Shut up”. She starts laughing “You haven’t changed Avi, you’re all the same, and I’m still a bitch”. Avinash rolls his eyes at her in despair but unknowingly as a mark of old times when she used to ruffle his hair and kiss his cheeks along with the insults.

“If you think about it Astrophysics isn’t as boring as you think, it’s about unraveling the secrets of the universe. I know it’s not as interesting as making Cash Flow Statements dear Zo.” “CA Zo!” she said correcting him and stressing on the exams she had cleared to get there. “If you may Dr. Avinash, could you be so kind to share some of those secrets with me, I’m dying to hear the universe’s gossips you cook up in your lab”.

“Well, we could start with some cosmology. You know that what you see might not really be real” says Avinash “Yeah, makes sense. Did they pass you a joint too along with the booze?” she remarks sarcastically, while Avinash continues “It is scientifically possible, there’s the weak and strong anthropic principle, there’s hyperdimensionality.” “Avi, just because you got better marks in Maths in the board exams doesn’t mean you get to confuse me with those math things. I’m good at English, I’m better than you at English. Please speak in English babe” he raises his eyes with that biting remark but just like old times he still continued “Okay, Imagine a Goldfish in a bowl. For the fish, the curved bowl is its world. It judges the outside world using the curved jar as its frame of reference, it formulates its own laws pf physics sitting inside that curved glass bowl” “A goldfish formulates laws of Physics? What the fuck” she exclaims “You know as a Scientist, I thought you’d know that goldfish can’t do much Physics, I don’t believe they think that much. Heck, I can’t do much Physics is why I left Science.” “Yeah, I approve the similarity with the goldfish specially the part where it doesn’t think” said Avinash with a winning smirk on his face. Zoya smiled back and said “London has made you wiser, it gave you comebacks, now go on about that goldfish thing. “Thanks I guess, so basically we might be in a similar jar looking at the Universe from our point of view, maybe the laws of gravity are what they are to us because we can only look through this jar that somebody else put us in. Maybe all that we know to be real is nothing but a model inside an actual real outside world we will never know about, just like the goldfish. The universe we know is might not be our actual reality”. he exclaimed with a zealous wonder. The actual reality was far from the universe they were in, the broken down car seemed irrelevant, the chilly weather wasn’t bothering them much. Zoya was looking into his eyes the same way she did when he explained random crackpot theories in class 9th. It was never what he said that mattered, it was the passion with which he said it that got her. The way he wanted her to know everything big or small, every little thought in his mind that he shared. It wasn’t just his ideas, he would never ramble on but wait for her to respond, wait for her to talk about her problems. He would listen to the even crazier musings in her mind right from the Japan’s flag being a red dot to a social commentary on Bengali people’s dressing sense. “We can be a simulation inside a computer, with our own coding and the biggest example is our DNA. A series of four chemicals repeated in a sequence forming complex organisms. Like we create complex software with binary digits of 1’s and 0’s.” Zoya nodded listening to that and asked “So you’re kind of scientifically proving that God exists and he’s a computer science programmer” He liked the question and replied “I’m not proving anything, you can’t definitively prove a theory without experimentation, I’m just accommodating a wider possibility. There might be parallel universes where we might be miles apart right now, not knowing about each other’s existence.” “Parallel universes seem interesting. Does anyone of them involve the existence of a chick they call girlfriend” she said playfully but she really just subtly asked something she wanted to know really badly. “I don’t have a girlfriend Zo, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go out on dates and use my jawdropping astronomy.” Zoya breathed an unnoticeable sigh of relief at that. Even she didn’t know why it relieved her so much that Avinash wasn’t with another woman despite their breakup 3 years ago. “Well, I’d like to hear some of that” she demanded. “I can’t give them away like that. You’ll have to be my date for tonight if you want to know” Avinash said. And as soon as he said it, he couldn’t believe that he flirted with Zoya the first night of meeting her. He was seeing her 3 years after that rough breakup and he managed to unknowingly ask her out. Zoya however knowingly replied “Okay then, you can have this date, Avi, in this really deserted location, let me see you try”

“We’ll have to lie down first since astronomy involves looking at the beautiful night sky above us and examining its intricacies.” Avinash said pointing at the grass patch in front of them by the river. “We can lie down but you won’t be getting laid on the first date. So I prefer you don’t prosper such motives.” “Not interested Zo” he said dismissing her joke and they were now looking at the starry night sky with all its vivid shapes. “You see that belt of three stars there with a bright one in the middle” “Yeah, that one?” she asked pointing where Avinash’s hands met hers. He held her hand and traced out a figure with it “You see how this constellation looks like a hunter holding a bow.” He said. She looked closely at it and exclaimed “It does look like a badly drawn hunter, and those three stars the belt on his tunic” “That’s Orion the hunter, the most noticeable constellation in the night sky, there is a very famous legend associated with it” he said sparking her interest in the story. “I’d want to hear, what the astronomer conjures up in his past time” she said “As you know these constellations are named after the mythical creatures and characters in the stories of Greece. So this one is a love story, the most famous one as it gave birth to two constellations. Orion was considered to be the best hunter in the land and he was also an admiration of the moon goddess Artemis. She liked hunting too and used to dive onto Earth from time to time to hunt. When her eyes fell on Orion she instantly felt a connection due to their common interests and started hunting with him. During the course of time, the two of them fell deeply in love and could not stay away from each other. Apollo her brother was very protective about his sister, and Zeus did not approve of Artemis romancing with a human. So he sent an evil scorpion to attack Orion. Orion fought long and he fought well, but the Scorpion bit him and nothing could save him from the venom. Artemis came crying down to Earth, and she threw the Scorpion miles apart into the sky. She requested Zeus to uplift him into paradise and that’s where we see him now with the brightest star on his belt. You see at the other side you’ll see the constellation Scorpio and there’s the moon goddess in between looking towards her love Orion the hunter.”

There was a silence that followed the story. As Zoya had claimed earlier, the night sky never looked so beautiful. The story Avinash narrated started coming alive in the canvas of Zoya’s mind. She could see the hunter Orion with a bow hunting deer. While she could see the moon peering towards the hunter with her illuminating passion. She shifted her head to the other side of the sky to see a rattling scorpion which was ready to pounce on their love. She could call the Scorpion circumstances because it was bad circumstances that killed his Orion. Avinash wanted to go abroad for his Ph.D. and Zoya had to stay back to complete her CA, she told him she won’t do long distance as it never works and both of them agreed to part ways. They did miss each other; they did love each other but soon news came that Zoya’s father was looking for matches for her. Avi couldn’t handle the news and broke all ties and contact with her. Funnily enough, after 4 years Orion lay right beside the moon goddess with the strange smile on his face as he peered into the stars. Zoya’s eyes did not look towards the night sky, instead, the scanned the contours of Avi’s face. She had kissed this face countless times, and all her efforts to forget it in the last 4 years went waste when she laid her eyes on his ears she would nibble lovingly. Avinash looked back at her and she immediately shifted her gaze back to the night sky. She could feel Avi’s loving glances on her, in that moment, when her hands touched his, nothing seemed too ordinary. She suddenly lost the night sky and had dusk right in front of her. The burning sun on the other side waiting for her and the mesmerizing night sky bidding her farewell. “You know there’s a Japanese story about the constellation Vega on the similar lines that marks today” Zoya’s eyes gleamed with happiness as another story meant that the night wasn’t over yet, her hands slipped into his interlocking fingers. It wasn’t unnatural because they had done it for 6 years, and 4 more years in their heads when they missed each other. He pointed his other hand towards a constellation he called Vega. “You see those bright stars, those represent the beautiful princess Orehime. And the one on the other side of the faintly lit band of clouds the star Altair represents a mortal Hikoboshi. Orehime used to weave beautiful clothes and Hikoboshi was a cow herder. Many mortals and gods had tried to woo Orehime but fell in love with the simplicity of Hikoboshi. They rejoiced and romanced as the heavenly gods above them saw. The princess stopped weaving her clothes and Hikoboshi lost track of his herd. The princess’s father could not bear seeing her lose interest in weaving and despised the commoner’s herd roaming around in the heavens. He banished the two to stay apart and created the Milky Way river separating the two lovers. Howeve, the sky gods were kind so each year, on the 7th night of the 7th moon, a bridge of magpies forms across the Celestial River, and the two lovers are reunited. If they don’t meet that year, Orihime cries her heart out and it falls on the earth as raindrops. That’s why the Japanese always pray for good weather on 7th of July.”

As the story finished. She realized that they had been united for this one night on 7th July along with Orehime and Hikoboshi. They weren’t looking at the night sky but looking at each other. As the magpies created the bridge between their lips. Avi’s heavy breathes were calling out to her. She inched towards him for that one night together across the heavenly river that the gods had promised her. The skies were clear it was morning breaking upon them but the rains still found a way. Her phone started ringing as her mobile gained connection. The phone flashed with the name Atul with a picture of them from their engagement. Atul, her husband had been trying to contact her since last night as Zoya hadn’t come home after the car broke down. She clutched the phone tight, without looking at the screen. She was in the same place again, with her celestial lover in front of her and the gods taking him away. She clutched the phone tighter putting it on silent. She was oblivious to the fact that Atul was calling, but she chose oblivion regardless. She chose to kiss Avinash after 4 long years, and her hands finally ruffled through his hair, his hands finally caressing her cheeks. The gods gave them what they deserved and for one single night they were allowed to have it all.

The sun was upon them. The night sky and its dreamy fishbowl reality had disappeared. The light was flooding the sky and the sun shone brightly on them. Avi was still holding her hand not letting her go anymore. Zoya felt the phone vibrating again and this time she looked at the screen, it was 3 missed calls from Atul and in a certain hurry she got up from her place dislodging her touch on Avinash’s hands. “Avi I’m getting connection; I think we can call for transport back home” she said. Avinash gained ground on reality and was suddenly in denial, he was dismissing all the moments in his head because he knew Zoya was married. He had stalked her and her hubby enough during his drunk lonely nights at London. He could not believe what had just happened but did not dare to speak about it either. Zoya looked towards him as she dialed for the Taxi. “The Taxi will be here in 15 minutes, get up Avi,” she said with a stoic expression. Avinash did get up but stood a meter apart from her as he did not want any more pleasant mishaps.

The taxi arrived and both of them got into it without a word. She looked at her phone finally to see Atul’s missed calls and his message. She opened up the message and it read “Your father has called me up thrice since last night. Get back to your house. The divorce papers have been accepted. My lawyers will send you the final draft” Her head fell on Avinash’s shoulders and she was home already. Avinash had read the message and he had in his arms the star that twinkles the brightest in his night sky. The two goldfish were happy in their curved bowl wanting only the starry night sky to be their reality.

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