Saturday, November 26, 2011

The sky was the colour of silken grey

A slight drizzle, though drizzle would signify a faster, heavier fall of rain, was what greeted me this morning when I got down from the bus. A drizzle that is so typical of Madikeri, though technically the monsoon has been long over. But then like the London weather, rain is never really a surprise to those of us who grew up here, it comes on bright sunny mornings as much as it passes by on overcast evenings. 

Early this morning, it is so painfully beautiful that I already dread the day I have to go back to the city. The familiar questions as to the whys and whats, arise, yet again.
There is a ferocious wind all morning, the loud whispers and the fierce wails of the banshee that I so associate with my childhood. From the three large windows in my room upstairs, I have three gorgeous views, one of the sunrises. A night in the bus has done my bones weary, but I tell myself I would like to see the day break. The sun decides to hide behind a thick veil of grey and near black clouds, but he is yet adamant; soon there is a little light that washes over trees that stand bare, having shed their aged brown leaves to make way for the green ones. The driveway is covered with rustling fallen leaves this morning; Shailaja has given up trying to sweep them away. I see a shivering man walk by the road beyond, hugging himself against the cold, his bright red sweater standing out against the remaining green from the trees and the grass on the sides of the road.

The cold breeze that wriggles in from the edges of the tightly shut windows and the little wisps of white mist, I see from under two thick blankets and succumb to the utter indulgent (to the point of decadent) pleasure of getting a good shuteye that stretches into the morning. The wind, its sound not reduced by the noises of a full day, of birds, of horns and televisions and radios and conversations, is louder. Or so my sleepy brain seems to think. The branches of tall trees groan under the pressure and sway this side and that, not confident of being able to hold on much longer. There is a foreboding of danger with every wave of the wind, yet to me, it brings back the reassurances and the security of childhood.

Those were nights when Stewart Hill behind my house still had its tower, one of the only two microwave signal stations in town, way before the multiple mobile operators invaded the skyline. Those were nights when the wind would climb up the hill, twist itself into a sailor’s knot around the tower and scream, as if struggling to untangle itself from the swirl and be able to lash against walls and cowsheds and dog kennels and people who dared to be out. Those were nights when I felt the banshee floating out with these winds, adding to the silent screams. Those were the nights when Stewart Hill still had wolves that looked up at the sky and called to the wind. Those reassuring nights are what I think of when I sleep again at 7 this morning.

I can wake up with the strangest thoughts every day. After a disturbing dream that I can recollect but cannot really explain, I wake up thinking of Puttanna Kanagal’s movie Belli Moda, I don’t really know why. I think of the lovely names that estates I know the owners of have, names that evoke long histories and hidden tales and often, scandals and family dramas. My home is called Minuguthare for a reason as well.
The wind continues to howl by the time ma forces me awake. It is too cozy in my room but wake up I must, if I want breakfast. What remains of the morning is spent in waking up fully, eating hot breakfast, day dreaming and letting Shailaja update me on her girls’ performance in school, her drunkard husband troubles and the local neighbourhood gossip. Sometime in the afternoon, the sun manages to peep through for a rough ten minutes but before we think of soaking up some sun, he is overshadowed again.

Grey is not my favourite colour for the sky, at least not when I am in the city. It makes me shade my mood and thoughts with its hues; rarely do I want to spread my arms and embrace the sky. But in Madikeri, nothing can go wrong. The shade above is a gorgeous grey, like the shining tone of silk and satin of that colour. The wind, I stop thinking of how it continues to bend trees and threaten to carry away roof tiles, the wind still makes its noises. Even the cold of November has swept away with the winter wind.

Ma and I venture out in the evening; I want to see the new organic vegetable garden we have. Shailaja, with her girls and Blacky in tow, points out which patch has what; the saplings are newly planted. My hands want to get dirty in the mud, but there isn’t anything I can do, not today at least. Blacky, Shailaja’s adorable dog with the shiniest black coat, is the blackest dog I have ever seen. He is so black, a picture in low lighting looks as good as a silhouette. With his large brown eyes and tail wagging in circles, he sticks to me for the evening, demanding I scratch continually behind his ears and under his neck. In the veranda later, two of Shailaja's girls, a daughter and a niece, to the songs blaring out of a China-made mobile phone handset, dance in co-ordinated moves they have been rehearsing for a school day function. The niece, who we all adore for how pretty and well mannered she is, is a good dancer. Blacky, his head on my knee, yawns in boredom three times, rather wishing he was eating or chasing butterflies instead.

As I write this, the rain, falling at the speed of a drizzle and a half, has left the earth smelling like it does after the first rains, earthy. I cannot think of any other word for that smell. This silken grey is predicted for a few more days now. I think of English moors, drawn to memory from passages of Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. But I reject those words as fit only perhaps for those English shores. I want my own passages for the banshee winds, my own descriptions for the sounds of a dry leaf falling against a glass window before touching the earth. I do not wish to borrow words to describe my paradisiacal day under the silken grey sky. It is a beautiful winter in heaven here on this land. And tomorrow will be a day just as beautiful.


Captain Nemo said...

Very nice, enjoy. And, yeah, why use passages from Wuthering Heights which is more suited for the old foggy, when you could write your own? ( OR use GP's great song 'maDkEri mEl manjuu' )

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thank you!
I love that song. But my favourite remains Kodagina Kaveri from Sharapanjara. Our local cinema hall used to play that before the beginning of every film.

Richard said...

As a writer, journalist and, more than all, a Kodagophile, I would like to exchange notes with you on Kodagu.
My email ID


R Lasrado

ps: My recent write up -

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thanks for writing in Mr Lasrado. My email id is on the About Me on this blog. Do write in if you want any information.