The rooftop view
Once upon a time at an age when my eyelashes weren’t coated with mascara, but with dreams, I remember sitting at the top of an overhead water tank in a house we rented and gazing at the stars in the night sky and the airplanes that flew above. I imagined the worlds far away, the fabulous destinations these planes and the passengers were headed to wanting to peek into the lit windows that gently sailed beyond. The overhead water tank was my favorite spot for day dreaming. It had a black iron ladder leading up to it and was perched on the terrace or rooftop of the two storied house we lived in. With buildings on either side, particularly a tall apartment on the right , I always thought the house was dwarfed. What lent relief to this stymied existence was my spot.
Staring into the night lights of the buildings around, feeling invisible cloaked in darkness as I was, I wove stories about the people that darted past the windows or hovered on the balconies. In the humid and hot summer afternoons, if there was nothing else to see, I attempted to count the mangoes in the tree that grew in the yard of the house across the street. I sat there unmindful of the hours crawling. When the sun dozed off the mosquitoes would start congregating over my head. I would occasionally swat at them only to have them gather again for their huddle. My mom would either send a messenger (most likely my sister for my brother was apt to join me) to remind me of the dangers of malaria and dengue fever and all else associated with my winged friends.
Every house I ever lived in, I would go up to the rooftop and spend time studying for exams or just thinking about people and events in my life. After all these years I suddenly find myself missing the rooftop view on things, on life. I miss having that heightened perspective - a detached and distanced view of life around me. I long for the boundless space and solitude.
Here’s a post dedicated to all mundane things I miss most about Madras. Not surprisingly most of the list is made of food I miss ;-) This list is not organized in any manner or fashion:
1) Elliot’s Beach and the many days of scheduled evening walks with friends
2) Frankie’s stall at Besant Nagar with their yummy treats
3) Malliga poo
4) Ratnagireeshwarar and the Aarupadai Murugan temples
5) Monsoon rains
6) The extremely loud and annoying Sun TV theme music
7) Mylapore Mulagai Bajji
8) Fruit shop on Greams Road Juice shop, Besant Nagar
9) Grand Sweets Thattai and Adyar Ananda Bhavan Paav Bhaaji
10) Saravana Bhavan Pongal
11) Diwali and the special TV programmes
12) Sathyam Cinema Butter Popcorn
13) Corn on the Cob sold outside Food World/Spencer’s
14) Shopping in T Nagar!
15) Wedding feasts!
The long weekend is looming ahead. I plan to relax and enjoy myself….already I am worrying that the weekend will breeze past me and before it starts, it may very well end :( I need a long - ish vacation like Thanksgiving which gives me 4 days of not doing anything :D
Vacations are like the unexpected summer showers in Chennai. They are brief and decidedly unsatisfactory. They fall short of their promise of relief - instead they seem to intensify the heat. There is something very lazy about summers in general. I associate the Indian summer with mangoes and afternoon siestas…..and then of course the occasional power cuts and excessive humidity :P
Work has kept me so busy that I barely get time to check my personal email let alone indulge in blogging or social networking. I am beginning to warm up to the idea of freelancing…takers anybody? As I dawdle along this blog I am reminded of the million things I should be doing at this very minute….at least I have a weekend to look forward to :)
My aching limbs and dull heart
wake up routinely
not to the sounds of a new dawn
but to the silences of an aging night
I am lulled to sleep
by the promise of security
made by my speeches
only to be rudely awakened
by my silences -
the unsaid rather than the said.
The what-ifs dictate
that I record in my black book of remorse,
every unkind utterance
that ever sprung from my tongue
drowning the feeble rumbles
of the protests of my kind words.
I revisit journeys past
to arrive at destinations rendered lost
by impulsive words.
I attempt in vain
to erase old footprints
of a time when I wore oversized boots
and did not see where or what I trod upon.
A cruel word tossed unthinkingly
severed ties that cannot heal again.
The wound was mine just as much as yours
and I carry not just the pain of my own gash
but nestled within it the hurt I caused.