Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Treasure everything you are holding, everything you love


Everything that represents my life (not the larger abstraction, but the day-to-day middle class, chaotic, transient version) has always been askew. Recently it just seems to have become a little more interestingly askew. Text books in tethering piles swallow all of my tiny blue table; suddenly there is so much to study, no matter how long I spent time with them, pouring over their convolutions. Apart from the number of odd jobs, I now study too, just out of curiosity; it’s not a subject which will increase my career prospects.

My existence seem so temporary, a life revolving around two suitcases and a hugful of miscellanies, a cache of love, borrowed beds, borrowed tables, borrowed bathroom time, rented rooms, some imagination, a few friends, several imaginary friends and a plethora of roommates. And all those things in between, brought, given, treasured, destroyed, given away, flung to pieces out of a barred window, discarded in a sad heap, lost or just forgotten. At times I long for my old home under the banyan tree where I lived for fifteen years, my entire childhood. It held elements that keep popping up in my dreams and writings. It was so old, nearly a hundred years old, with a tiled roof, wooden ceiling and large windows from which I used to swing and play. The floor was adorable, made of old red clay tiles that remained cool throughout the hot summers, so were the rooms, so many of them that it was impossible to not stop playing the many games I made up and do my homework. 

The banyan tree with its million roots hanging, twisting, coiling around each other and the creepers that grew over it all made it look like a large, benevolent monster.  Now all that is gone, a new, renovated house stands there. I lived there for another five years, not very happy ones but still good because the banyan tree was still there.  But those are now just objects, the city grew up around it and we too had to move on. I started my solitary adulthood, with one year as a student in a hot, coastal city, sharing an apartment with nine girls, then to a cloudy city on the plains near the Nilgiris where I first lived in an empty dormitory which was above an asylum (really). From then on, it was a life in constant flux, moving, moving always loving and leaving shoddy rented rooms, apartments or hostels. 

Where I live now, my home in the woods, is also a temporary arrangement.  The blue table, the blue chair, the blue back pack full of more books all will again get into  boxes and move into another little flat near a forest (not the table perhaps). But that too is transitory, I might then move to another place which has the most amazing staircase I’ve ever seen (apart from the spiraling one in my old school), or to somewhere else hopefully near some wilderness. From there too there is a long term shifting plan, perhaps deep into the forest, on the top of a misty forest, on the slopes of a pine and silver birch grove or a hammock under a Jacaranda tree, where I hope to die watching the dazzling purple constellations against the cloudy, blue enchantment.

Packing books into boxes is a slow process because I am compelled to flip through each of them, read a portion and reminiscence. Every read has a memory, Virginia Woolf’s works remind me of the small corridor next to my block in college where I used to sit and read, Kundera reminds me of my first job, the crazy night shifts, the insomnia and the stoic, cynical side of me, Atwood’s poems are attached to all that is strange, they cling to my entire adulthood memory, so does Borges, Neruda, Pessoa and the Beat poets. Lorca reminds me of all the finest moments of falling in love, whether it is with a human, a cat, a tree, a landscape, a particular shade of sky or an object. It oozes love, that expensive, imported treasured volume of his complete poems and illustrations that I bought after compromising on a lot of other immediate expenses.  There were others too: a good bunch of European fiction, poetry, books to die for, classics, a small bunch of non-fiction, a few from my childhood. 

And of course there was Nabokov, that Russian drug! My dopamine, my amphetamine. Lovingly read, word by word, over and over, the pages smelt to see if I could inhale in those words, held tenderly to my heart and guarded so carefully. I came upon the following passage while going through one of his little-known, but remarkable work known as ‘The Gift’, it describes what the protagonist of the story, who is an aspiring writer, felt when he heard that his manuscript was finally accepted by the publisher:

“The drizzle seemed a dazzling dew, happiness stood in his throat, rainbow nimbi trembled around the streetlamps, and the book he had written talked to him at the top of its voice, accompanying him the whole time like a torrent on the other side of a wall.”

It’s those few moments like this on earth that comprises heaven. What makes me happiest are the small things I discover each day, little treasures, lost things, a favourite smell, some old memory suddenly remembered, a taste, a line, a word, a flicker.  



Picture source: http://weheartit.com/entry/27041814