Sunset, the most memorable!

S Balakrishnan
As the Sun sets over another year (2021) heralding the New Year 2022, I am reminded of my most memorable Sunset.   Sunset view from Parsons Pygmalion Point (PPP / P3) is the most memorable sunset for me! Parsons Pygmalion Point! Oh, well, it is now renamed Indira Point. But I would stick to the old name because it was called so when I visited it in 1979, some 42 years ago. Of course, I have seen more dazzling sunsets, like the view from Darjeeling of Mt. Khangchendzonga glowing orange, or from Kanyakumari, the southern tip of our Nation (mind you, NOT the southernmost tip of our soil though I hail from Tamil Nadu), or from the Thar Desert, or over Loktak Lake in Manipur, or over the mighty Brahmaputra, but this one is very unique for two reasons. Not only for the geographical reason that PPP is India’s real southernmost tip (further down South at 6.45p  than Kanyakumari which is up at 8.5p ) but also for the fact that now the Point is not what it was then; it now lies submerged with the landscape completely devastated and changed after the 2004 Tsunami. Even if I wish I can’t have the same angle and scene for another sunset photo from that very spot at that Point.
But hold your breath; I had almost missed this Sunset.  I had reached PPP by 4.45 PM but could get to click the sunset view only at 5.20 PM, at the nick of time. Just a few more seconds delay, the sun would have dipped in, enveloping the place in total darkness and I would have missed my lifetime opportunity.  I felt victorious as I set my foot at India’s Tip on the evening of 25th April 1979; I was obsessed of visiting this Point since I joined my posting in Port Blair a year back. So I was overwhelmed with feelings of excitement, achievement, adventure and what not when my foolhardy expedition ended successfully. But the happy mood was spoiled by Pandian & Balaiah, my local guides from Shastri Nagar of Great Nicobar Island, when they started quarrelling with the Lighthouse men there. I was at my wit’s end as we were at their mercy for the overnight halt’s boarding & lodging facilities. Let me also share a secret that I had not obtained the official permission to visit that protected area. We had just happily walked all the way from Shastri Nagar, India’s southernmost settlement (of ex-servicemen), and ‘gate crashed’ into the Point. The argument was about why the lighthouse men did not answer our cries for help to cross the Galathea River with the dinghy (country boat) lying on their side. They gave the convincing reply of the river being in full flow to which we were witness. So I begged my guides to quit quarrelling. Only then the men noticed me as a stranger. To escape their probing queries about me, I pretended as a journalist from the far-off Madras (now Chennai) with a camera dangling around my neck (never mind it was a tiny-puny Agfa Isoly-II camera with B&W roll), cap, T-shirt, specs and all that. My, what a show I had to put up; fit for Oscars!
I was alarmed when I looked at my wrist watch ... it was 5.15 PM! Only then I remembered that I had to load a new roll which I did in a hurry-scurry and rushed down to the beachfront. The sun had almost dipped into the Indian Ocean painting the sky in red and putting the foreground scenery in silhouette. Wish I had loaded a colour roll for this momentous trip. Repenting after 42 years! I clicked two snaps in succession. The sudden darkness and total silence within a few seconds was a bit eerie. I rushed back to their living quarters, happy that I had achieved something great. Looking back, I am indeed proud of my determined expedition to PPP which I undertook with a ‘now or never’ mission mode.
Oh, please, don’t embarrass me by asking about the sunrise view photo from PPP. I must blame the puffy clouds for fooling me. I was, instead, gazing at the southern direction and missed it. Anyhow it was too cloudy for the sun to peep out, so I consoled myself. Cursing my stupidity (Please, don’t reveal this to my dear wife who would have one more point to score over me), I sluggishly climbed up the spiralling iron staircase of the lighthouse and the bird’s eye view of the lush forest in different hues of green lifted my sagging spirit.
During my revisit to the A&N Islands in 2009, I tried my best to visit Great Nicobar Island and Indira Point but without any success. I could not set my foot in Nicobar Group at all. In a way it was a blessing in disguise because I would not have been able to bear the present gory sight of the Point after the tsunami. Let me die with the green & pleasant memories of India’s Southernmost Tip.
The black & white Sunset photo from Parsons Pygmalion Point @ Indira Point is, therefore, an everlasting memory of both glad and sad tidings of which our life is also made of. Oh, what a philosophical finishing line!  
The writer can be reached at [email protected]/Whatsapp 9840917608