When everybody was asleep, I woke up. It would have been a few hours past midnight. It was silent except the continuous buzz of the insects in the distant bush. The sky was clear. The dazzling Venus was already up on the eastern horizon. The Milky Way was faintly visible thanks to the bright moon. I put on the slippers and set out.
Few dogs barked but I ignored them and they ignored me too. As if instinctively I took the road to the river. I walked for a long time and finally I was on the riverbank. As it was just after winter a central narrow flow of water was what remained of the kilometer-wide river. Rest was all sand. The water sparkled in the moonlight like a silver ornament. I climbed down the bank cutting through patches of vegetation. My slippers kicked off dust and created a smoky trail. I was then standing under a big Peepal tree just beside the actual riverbed. The tree must have been very old and weathered many vagaries of the river. The moonlight filtered through the leaves and created patterns on the ground below. A bird cackled in the bush nearby. I stood there not sure how long and soaked in the serenity of the moment. Then I felt the urge to walk farther down into the river. Soon I was standing few inches from the water that flowed obediently towards its destination. Tiny yellow lights of the town twinkled as if they were fragile candles. A blinking dot of light, which must be an airplane, crossed the sky soundlessly. In front of me was a bamboo bridge over the water, which connected the sand beds on the two sides. It was an easy way to cross the river. But the bridge was not strong enough. And I hesitated to climb on it. An urge to unravel the mystery on the other side fought with the fear of falling into the river in case the bridge collapsed. I was in a dilemma. I pondered over it again and again weighing the pros and cons of both. But when I finally made up my mind to take the risk and cross the bridge, the eastern sky had already brightened!