Monday, September 16, 2013

Right Now

I'm sitting in a cane chair on the balcony, a tulsi plant on the floor to my left, and a row of drying clothes to my right. The balcony is a boring old thing, if I had any imagination I would fill it with plants and make a tropical rain-forest that would drown out the fact that facing it on the opposite side, barely a few feet away, is the wall of the next building, a horrible splotched wall decorated with old pipes, both rusty-red and plastic-grey, but it's alright, this time next year it'll be a blue blue lake out there, and a nice wind that will make me shiver.

Somewhere below a mother and daughter are making an Onam sadya, the daughter asking the mother for instructions on Avial making, I think they must be living in different apartments and talking to each other across balconies, for why else can I hear them so clearly. I try to listen in, are they mother and daughter or mother-in-law and daughter-in-law? I can't tell, their language is middle Kerala, all musical and affected and polite, illya's and varu's, not the straight talk of my own part of the world.

Above me drone helicopters, that's the price you pay for living behind HAL. But I like them, I've been reading a history of Bangalore, and I feel connected to the city, to the romance of the old companies that helped make it what it is today. I squint up into the sky at the helicopter, and two birds seem to be giving it company, but they see me and they veer off and settle down on the roof of the building opposite me.

I break off a leaf of the tulsi plant and tear it up and hold it to my nose, and that smell, it takes me back about fifteen years, to a broken old well, moss-covered and dirty and maybe filled with ghosts, what does an eleven-year-old know? A tall tulsi plant grew on the side of the well and now I can't see a tulsi plant without thinking of that tulsi plant, I don't even know if it's still alive. They cleaned up that place, it used to be a broken old temple and a broken old well, and snake gods and tall trees and vines that looked like real live snakes, and we used to play there, the three of us, but now it's all cleaned up and you can't step on the grounds without taking your shoes off and now what's the point anyway?

My feet are warm because I've put them right where a bar of sunlight has managed to break through the buildings. It's a good thing we're on the top floor, at least I have a bit of sky, and it's a glorious blue sky, who was it that wrote about clouds like woolly sheep on blue grass, that sort of sky.

On my lap is Blindness, a book both the brother and the father recommended, and I've been resisting it for a year, but what better time to read it than when I'm affected by a pestilential eye infection that seems to have found a nice home in my eyes. First it nested in the white of my eye and turned it red and made me leak tears all day long, it stayed there for two weeks, and then it decided the black part was better, and now I can't see a damn thing for all the fog. But at least it means I don't have to cook an Onam sadya unlike the poor women downstairs.

I've given up on the book, because I'm not reading it, I'm squinting at it, trying to stop the letters from turning into blurred black dots, and squinting is no fun, even in the sunlight, and why would I want to do it, I'm already half-blind anyway. But I like the way Saramago writes, my thoughts go wandering and they pour out like his prose, no breaks or full-stops, just an onward flow like a river towards an ocean, and hence this post because it's easier to write like this when you can't see what you're writing.
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naween said...

Right now is always the best time to ruminate :)