The Solar System and footprints on the moon

The Forbidden City shows its size when looked upon from the hill Jingshan. Several large squares, many temples, and nearly ten thousand rooms, all neatly decorated. It’s the sheer size — built and maintained for hundreds of years — that makes travel bloggers searching for words to describe this complex.

There’s a tiny well too, in which a starved concubine was put to death. You can imagine her last thoughts — her world collapsing into a small circle of light above her, the cold stone scratching her bony elbows.

During a mass inside the Vatican — another complex too large and magnificent to describe — a child with Down’s syndrome stands up and walks towards the Pope. The guards move to intercept the girl, but the Pope welcomes the shirt and holds her hand as he finishes the mass.

Each year, birds migrate across continents, navigating on the Earth’s magnetic field. But there’s a smaller bird story too, about duck called Buttercup who lost his left foot, which got replaced by a 3D printed foot.

In terms of stories, the size of the Solar System is just as big as the size of Armstrong’s footprint on the moon. Stories should be enormous or minuscule — showing the grandness of life, or the intimacy of it. In between this lies the dullness; the normal, neither messy nor beautiful, neither abstract or poetic. They are just observations. It’s the opposite ends that spring tensions from the heart.

Photograph by Uma Gokhale