Sunday, May 02, 2010

Notes from Paradise

The insides of a very ripe fig, one that has turned a deep reddish black, is filled with honey of a thick kind. Some would call it gooey; ma has names that are far more gross, she doesn’t like them. As I bite into one specially succulent one, the honey deliciously oozes out. The outer red skin I peel off slowly, a bit of the white sap threatens to stick. The flesh is sweet, but thanks to the hoards of squirrels and birds, I rarely get to taste the sweetness of a fig in its full ripen wonder. The fig that grows on the only tree I have ever absolutely loved to climb, perch on to read a book on the banks of that little emerald pond in the estate. One perfect summer bite.

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My first mango of the season. I will not have ma peel and neatly cut them into slices. Mango is meant to be had only one way, ripened, soft, eaten without cutting, being messy with the juice dripping all over. Again, I bite in and the juice drips down my hand. One perfectly shaped yellow mango. What would be summer without them?

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The terrace of my house is where I have spent many summer evenings pretending to study for the exams in April. Just after mid-March when I would have talked myself into sitting down with the books, the skies would have cleared up. March isn’t too cold in Madikeri, spring or at least something close to it would have set in. The dark blue skies with millions of stars and planets (for the longest time ever I wanted to be an astronomer until I realised that it involved studying physics) would be my canvas for the dreams of tonight. Some bright and others not, some outlandish in their brilliance, some too far, some that fell down to the earth, the ones that stayed there every night after night-- both my dreams and those stars.

From that terrace, this night, I see the full moon peeping through a branch of the silhouetted Kashmir tree that my grandpa planted some 48 years ago. No clouds today, just a pale yellowish moon, possibly singing the clouds to herself. On the other silhouette, a tree that yields jackfruit, the fireflies of the night have their little party, not noisy like those crickets in the garden, but quieter, the tail lights on and off now and again. There is only a slight breeze tonight. The railway radio tower that used to be a familiar fixture every morning on Stewart Hill for all these decades is wasted away; they took it down recently. The hill stays barren. Lights from the distant town. The full moon though outshines them all, the fireflies and the houses, with her quiet song of those past evenings under the starry skies.

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The absolute joy of waking up on my own bed in my own room, to hot breakfast (not to mention ma’s impatient tone), wishing a sunny good morning to Ginger, only to be met with a glare for having disturbed his 23-hour a day beauty sleep, a lazy morning, a slow afternoon, slower evening with song, rain and conversations, ma and Appa and impromptu treks and short picnics to interior villages along winding coffee estate lined roads, rather Bohemian the days!!

* *

As I sit to write this, the clouds threaten to burst right above my home with the fury that tails behind the first rains of the season. Even as I perch my feet up and sit back to think of the first line, there is a slow rumbling in the distance. From the verandah, I see a thick sheet of rain furiously sweeping closer and closer till I, home are engulfed in that rumble. There is the hurried patter (there isn’t any cute pitter, the rain is lashing out) on the front courtyard, that familiar tone of relentless rain that won’t ebb for months now.

As for me, I remain perched up on a chair in the verandah. The rain has reduced in intensity, but not the thunder that my granny says is the sound of demi-gods and goddesses grinding rice and urad dal for the batter for the next day's breakfast of idlis and dosas!! I look over at ma’s lovely garden that is shaped like the sun and his rays; the pink and red flowers look quite happy. No, I wouldn’t be able to say what flowers they are, I don’t know the names of any, except for a rose.

Then there is the wind that looks like it might chill me to my bones if I stayed here any longer. The sound of the glorious rain is soothing though. And then there are the breathtakingly beautiful hills. Life is deliciously slow-paced.

I am thinking, here I am, living a week in absolute paradise.