City Hangout – The Mid-August Sun, Defence Colony Flyover
An evening to memorialise.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The people who commanded the stage on 15 August, 1947, seem so far away in time and history — almost like myths. While in contrast this red disk, our brilliantly shining sun, feels so much a part of our 2022, and looks so spanking new, as if freshly washed in a bath of golden water. But this sun is 4,500,000,000 years old, and our India has turned only 75 — some of us have parents older than that.
Such are the thoughts one might think here, on simultaneously watching the sun set and commemorating a landmark date in our nation’s history, that subjugated an empire in which the sun was meant to never set.
On evenings these days, the tints and hues of Delhi’s monsoon sky briefly coalesce into the likeness of a typical Monet painting, gleaming in its inner light. Few places host a more fantastic view for such sunsets than this vantage point on the Defence Colony flyover, in central Delhi.
It is 6.52pm and the day’s sunshine has concentrated into a red orb. As for the rest of the sky, some parts are orange, some purple, some blue, and some even grey. But these shades are changing every instant.
The busy flyover has broad paves on both sides, and a few people are quietly loitering about. One man is sitting cross-legged on the metal railing, tapping his nose—perhaps doing alternate nostril breathing. Cars, autos and buses are speeding along the flyover, and every second vehicle is decorated with the national flag.
On the flyover’s east side, stairs lead to the road underneath, which is clogged with traffic as well. A young man is sitting on the steps. The rusty metal railing is partly covered with somebody’s clothes. Three carpenters—Mukesh, Dheeraj, Manda—walk over to the pave, and stop to gaze at the sun. They are on way home to Kotla Mubarakpur village, after finishing their day’s assignment in Meharchand Market.
In the distance a gigantic tiranga hoisted on a tall white mast is gently undulating in the air, moving like a sea wave coming to rest on the shore. One of the spectators standing by the bridge has his head turned in such a way that it is impossible to determine if he is watching the flag or the sun.
Some minutes later, the sky becomes black. The man on the staircase is gone. The carpenters are gone too. The breeze remains strong, and the Indian flag continues to billow in the air, as if an invisible Indian were waving it without pause.