mom of all trades

mom of all trades

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

A letter to my childhood home

It must be blistering hot right now, the unforgiving heat beating down and coating the skin like melted jaggery. The frangipani flowers in the front garden, scenting the air with their heady fragrance. Do you remember how we used to swing on the creaky iron gates, my sister and I; faster and faster, till we were dizzy with joy? How we used to chat with our best friends, the adorable twins, who were miraculously the same age as me, leaning over your walls, lined with soft moss?

Swinging on the gates.
 You were interesting, with cozy nooks and corners in unexpected places, where I have spent many happy hours, lost in the world of books. I would love to sit once more, at the long rose wood table and scoop up tangy steaming hot sambar (a lentil and vegetable stew) with crisp pieces of ghee dosas or watch my grandmother light the puja lamp at dusk, its soft glow giving her face an ethereal radiance.

Did you know that each of us in the family had a favorite spot to call our own? I had more than one. The spring chair which creaked a little, with soft pillowy cushions which seemed to gather me in its gentle embrace, placed near the window, in the upstairs study. I loved sitting by that window and being a silent witness to the goings on in the opposite house. The three little dachshund dogs being taken out on their daily walks around the colony; valliamma (we called aunty, valliamma) sitting in her beautiful garden and chanting her prayers; in a crisp starched mundu veshti*, a perfect circle of sindoor the color of hibiscus, dotting her forehead.

 The mango tree in the back yard, with its trunk curved like a gleaming mahogany planter’s arm chair; which gave me hope that the ‘faraway tree’* may exist after all. The oddly shaped bedroom, which was bursting at the seams with cupboards, suitcases and all sorts of odds and ends; so that the bed looked like an afterthought. It would seem that each of us had left a bit of ourselves there.

My sister and I, with the house in the back ground
 Your walls have soaked up my laughter and tears, my dreams and fears; the very essence of my childhood. When we bid you good bye and moved to a new place, my sister cried for days afterwards. You are special to us, as within your four walls we will always be children. You will never know us as adults. For you, we will always be the pigtailed little girls, swinging on the gates without a care in the world.