August is almost gone. I am in Palo Alto. It is overcast Sunday morning and there is no one on the street yet. I am on my way to the park for a walk. On both sides, the houses are still asleep, somewhat tired from the week gone by. Their gardens look worn from the pressures of the last summer. The fruit trees seem to be readying for a retreat and the smaller seasonal bushes, the dahlias and the black-eyes and the flaming rosebushes want to say good bye.
At the park, I see the giant redwoods and the pines that seem unaffected by the impending change of season. I look at them; they are always so timeless and focused on the sky above. Were they ever small, my mind wonders.
I think of a long time ago when I was a little boy.
I remember showing my mother a book catalogue and pleading for the one titled Chandre Jara Giyechhilo: Those Who Wentto the Moon. It was 1965 and I was eight. In a few weeks, the book arrived by post. I simply soaked it in. It was about a spaceship, about earthlings who travelled all the way to the moon and were met with by aliens living there.
I wanted to go to the moon.
Exactly four years later Neil, you actually went to the moon. You stepped out of the Apollo 11; you looked incredibly fascinating to my now 12- year-old eyes and even to this date, I cannot forget the image of your lunar module behind you and the landscape reflected on your visor.
As you stepped on to the surface of the moon, I remember you said something beautiful.
You did not say I thank my mom, my dog, my beautiful wife and two wonderful children for being here.
You did not sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
You said yours was a giant leap for mankind. You were there for everyone Neil; you were there for me!
Then you returned to the earth; your splashdown actually took place in my boy-heart.
And you brought us the most beautiful gift, you brought us moon rock! I recall the moon rock travelled to many countriesall over the world. School children were called to come, see it. In India, it came to Delhi. Delhi was so far away from where I lived, one couldn’t get there in days. The nearest railhead for us was a day’s travel and then it took another two to go to Delhi.
No one ever went to Delhi.
But when the picture of the moon rock was in the papers the next day Neil, I actually went to the moon!
As I prepare to leave the park behind and walk back, the redwoods and the pines tell me, tonight when the moon comes up, she will be actually there to pay her tribute to you, Neil.
Tonight will be your night.