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February 12, 2007 / zanzi

A Sense of Place

“You have navigated with raging soul far from the paternal home, passing beyond the sea’s double rocks, and you now inhabit a foreign land.” ~Medea 

For me, the paternal home was where a traditional joint family lived, with darkish, old-wood rooms and lawns gone wild. It was home back then, with the pomegranate tree filling up the view from three bedroom windows. Watching parakeets get at the mangoes, lazing through the summer, playing with the pipe in the lawn; how it all goes. There’s no more “mummy” to call for and there’s a red brick wall cutting the lawn in two. Separate kitchens, they wanted. A black vine came over the pomegranate and the tree withered. Just like that. Even the rooms are all bright now with the PVC flooring. Too white, too – obvious.

There were a couple of hops to make along the way. Jumping from one protrusion to the next, trying not to touch the water’s mocking surface. Like that time my friend and I walked into the sea at Bombay, as if the vaanar-sena had made a bridge for us. They took me into the valleys, those double rocks. For a while, it was home-coming. Places where I ‘would my own quietus make’, some day when all life were to overwhelm me and show me that soil as my own. Hours and days were spent watching the sun coming up and going down. The paradise flycatcher didn’t make a noise, but the pied kingfisher would antic away over the waters and the lapwing kept asking “didn’t you do it?”

Days fade into months and in the blink of an era, years go by. Now it isn’t early any more. The world looks like tulips in a hospital room. I sometimes catch a glimpse of home – now and then when I’m on a train, with the fields of barley rushing past, and the mango trees. It doesn’t do to stay in one place any more; transience has become my refuge: inconstancy, the only constant. Sometimes the valleys revisit me. Then I’m sitting alone on a rock shaped like an elephant’s ear, watching a grey world, or on a quiet hillside when day has fallen away and green is turning black. But where is here? Where am I when I wake up every morning, switching off the fan that runs only to block out the sound of a television blaring into the night? Not with my feet on the ground, like they’ve always been before. Life has become an apartment and left me flat.


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  1. toffles / Feb 15 2007 12:55 am


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