Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Speaking of Soaked Beans and Summers

The other day, a friend from university had called up. He and I first bonded while swapping tales of the great loves of our life and the heartbreak that had ensued, back then. Years later, we agreed on how glad we were not to have ended up with those people. He and I continue to be close; I give him advice on his girl troubles often, and I can count on him for a good conversation any day!

So the other day, we were talking about things that people who have been friends for long talk about. Some nostalgia thrown in, some complaints, some gossip about mutual acquaintances later, S and I ended up talking about dinner. He said he had rice ready and just need to make some curry. I had soaked some lentils and peas for the next day. We each stopped for a few seconds then, realizing how much life and our conversations had changed.

My friend S later wrote about this somewhere, about friends and small conversations and how they are some of the lasting memories you make. To me, friendship remains a fascinating part of life. You meet someone, you might not really like them much at first, but then, you bond over something, you have several conversations, make memories, have fun, and there is a bond that you will never share with another person of the sorts you have with that one friend. Am I making any sense here?

Having grown up without brothers or sisters, I have always been a little bit of a loner. Several friends have come and gone, and I have had more than my share of having trusted the wrong people and having paid for it, more times than I want to remember. But I like to think that my memories of them are not tarnished by the way those relationships ended. I do not always succeed. Putting faith in friends is not something I want to give up though; that remains one of the last areas where I still retain some faith in humankind. You are right, I don’t make much sense here.

So this friend S, who I met at university, is one of the people I can depend on to pick up the call when I need to talk. There are a few others, people I have talked with about soaking beans, about distant dreams, about evening showers and flowing rivers, about the mountain air and the city traffic, about ideas and books and films, about dealing with the past and being open to the future, about healing and hurting, about their stories and mine. I wish I could find a word more effective than a mere thank you to express how special each of them have been, no matter how crazy they are or I am.

I didn’t mean this to be a soppy post. But fueled by some beautiful music by Yodhakaa, this new band I love, I slip into nostalgia. I am at home, in my room with the views and my chest feels tight against my throat, with memories of days and years and people gone by.

Minuguthare has a habit of overwhelming me sometimes, for very many reasons. Does everyone feel that way about home? Is the longing always so intense that I seem to miss home even when I am sitting there in the veranda, overlooking ma’s garden with the yellow ball-like flowers and the patch of kohlrabi? The very small all-brown birds have started coming in. They come every summer and leave after the monsoons with their babies in tow. They are all brown and contribute to the all day cacophony with the half dozen squirrels, the wood pigeons, some parrots and other beautiful birds whose name I must, must learn. The organic vegetable garden is growing. The other day, I plucked some deep red cherry tomatoes and popped them into my mouth in between digging up the mud to plant in spinach and fenugreek seeds.

The garden reminds me of summer. Summers are quite hot these years, even in these hills. I can’t bear the heat. Ma turns the garden hose towards me and douches me completely. The garden hose reminds me of how I squealed last time, even in summer, the water is rather cold. I would rush in to have a hot shower then.

Today though, it is still winter. It has been a very good winter this year. One night last week, the temperature was the coldest it had been in 135 years in Madikeri, 4.2 degrees. In the hills, it always feels like the temperature is much lower. It isn’t that cold today, but I spent the morning with coconut oil smeared all over and trying to get a little tan under the harsh winter sun. But I have skin that doesn’t tan very easily, so all that ensued was sleepy-headedness and the glorious lethargy that creeps in after an oil bath in winter. Ma and I walked to town this evening; we hadn’t done that in years. Somehow, the distance between my house and the town seemed much shorter than when I was younger.

I am here at home, longing for home. I can’t explain that, but if you have that one place where you are completely you, you will understand. I have meandered on over curves and many paths in this post. It is some nostalgia talking, some something else that I cannot name. I feel like Che Guevara and his friend when they are about to enter Argentina on a boat. There is a line in the movie about their trip, The Motorcycle Diaries, about how each moment is split into two, one is sadness for what you are leaving behind and the other is anticipation of the newness of the next moment. I feel like that, I shall tell you soon why. For now, leave me to my open skies and family and home and belonging and memories of summers.


Biju Jacob John said...

Hi Deepa, you do have a gift of painting pictures with words! Sitting in my room in Thimphu all alone, so far away from Bangalore, in 2'C weather, you wouldn't probably realize how soothing your writing is. Just like the oil bath u talked about. Are those pics of your garden produce? Warm Regards, Biju - biju.john@thimphutechpark.com

Biju Jacob John said...

Deepa, the lighting in your photographs is brilliant. You almost tempt to reach out a pop one into my mouth!

Giribala said...

Ah, the split moment! I get the drift. Beautiful pictures :-)

Deepa Bhasthi said...

@Biju, thank you!! I needed to hear such good words today! Much appreciated today! Thanks again :)
Yes, they are my garden produce, my mother's garden actually.

Thanks Giribala! :)

Samuel Gnanadurai said...

Nostalgic Deepa! I can't help falling in love with ur writting all over again.

And by the way, ur writting does makes sense for people who miss home:(

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thank you Sam :)

Rahul Bhatia said...

An interesting post!