The sky has character. And color, indeed a wide range of colors—blue, red, orange. We had forgotten these facts; at least I had.
It was like people in The Country of the Blind, H.G. Wells’ story, having lost not just the faculty of sight but also the memory of the faculty. We, the people of Delhi and the surrounding region, too had come to expect the sky to be dull bluish grey, 12 months a year. The grey turned much dark during rains, and darker and dirtier in the early weeks of winters because of the stubble burning by farmers.
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In the last few months, primarily because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown that reduced the levels of air pollution, the sky has unveiled itself in its variegated splendor. The rainy season further purified the atmosphere. Even the double rainbow was visible—a treat after a very long time.
Delhi had the lowest air quality index (AQI), which measures pollution levels, for August since 2015, the year when the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB started maintaining AQI records.
The AQI didn’t go beyond 87 in the month, while it was below 50 on four days. The AQI below 50 is in the ‘good’ category, while 51-100 is in the ‘satisfactory’ range. On four days, air quality was ‘good.’ It was only in the last year that August had two ‘good’ quality air days.
I don’t remember when was the last time I saw the sky change color and mood, almost like a coquettish girlfriend. From clear blue to dark grey on a rainy day, then blue again, often with cumulous clouds playing hide and seek with sunlight. And very dark clouds—and also the silver lining.
I also reckoned that it was after a very long time I saw, literally, the silver lining. Journalists like me have become so enamored of its metaphorical use that they probably forgot how it actually looked like. It looks magnificent.
And the night sky; we can actually see stars. And the clouds moving to cover the moon.
While romancing the sky has been enjoyable, the awareness about its cause is not very comforting. It is a well-known fact that the shutting down of the economy is the real cause. It is also a very high cost. Would it be possible to reclaim and romance the sky in normal circumstances?.