In the end, in the whole psychology, the self,
the town, the weather, in a casual litter,
Together, said words of the world are the life of the world.
– Wallace Stevens
We hadn’t climbed high enough at the Charminar. The Golconda Fort was higher, and older. If you clap in a small area of the entrance the sound will carry all the way to a specific point hundreds of meters up a hill to the fort lookout. When the fort was in use, the clapping signaled a friendly visit or enemy approach. Now it signals to the vendors above, “Tourists ahead and willing to overpay for samosas!”
We walked around the once-grand rooms. Their yellow crumbles were plain in comparison to the Red Fort and the equally red Agra Fort but more expansive than both. Couples on secret dates took privilege of the cool stone inside the infinite, half-exposed spaces inside. Back home, kids go to Sonic to steal-away; here they murmur among ruins. Both inspiring.
The fort had been conquered enough times over to fill a 2 hour light and sound show. I don’t know what the significance of it was beyond that we had climbed to the top of it. We were walking up this rocky path between of boulders and ruins that looked like boulders because that’s the way everyone else was going and by the time we were halfway up we realized we were halfway up and someone said, maybe we can buy mineral water if we keep going.
I sat down on the ledge, tired. Sparrows darted around the thousand hidden cubbyholes in the stone that would make a bird happy. They captured the wind, letting themselves be whipped and riding it up above our heights. From this vista you can see the entire city seeping up and abutting the old fort wall from distances until the setting sun obliterates it at the horizon.
Then, I heard the cry of the occasion. A voice plaited with a dense but wafting iron timbre suddenly crescendoed through the hills. It’s sustained its tone even as its notes painted a huge range. The sound had reached me, but I was so captivated that I thought the entire city surely could hear it too and had stopped to listen. It took me a few minutes to realize that the cadence of this strange language was reciting the 5:00 prayer from a nearby mosque.
Within minutes, every mosque in the city below was broadcasting its version. The voices did not drone nor harmonize together but formed a rounded edict. I could hear each separately if I listened closely. I sat in the spot to see how the city responded when swaddled in its own words. The hums were parts of the reverberation of this windy night. Forming their own current they grasped at each other between the streets, moving higher than me, extending from the birds. The clapping, not of one hand but so many voices, had reached the lookout in proclamation at last.