Friday, October 22, 2010

Under The Table and Dreaming.

It’s the persistent din that keeps bringing it back. The sound of too many voices speaking too many languages at exactly the same time. Usually, they have the same thing to say. Often, not one of them matter. But it is exactly that, and the silent humming sound coming from the front that is to be blamed for distorted nostalgia. It comes in waves, more often than not. One treads upon the others' heel. Washing ashore a fair number of lost and abandoned  things, leaving behind the odd shell or two, and taking down a few sand castles along the way. The city that calls itself the heart of the country, beats at its own pace. It’s the only thing it has to call its own. After all, there is nothing about Delhi that isn’t borrowed. Not even the weather.

But sometimes I get lucky and it’s night. I’m on a bus, it’s raining and it’s a dark night. Except for the gaudy light bulbs that keep shady little shacks in business. I can’t see the lights though, because all I see are the raindrops on the windowpane. And through the raindrops, all I see are a zillion hexagonal orange disks of light, floating over the busy streets, and people who are nothing if not that. But then the bus starts to move, and things whir past. Faster in the mind than on the road.

Three months later, I’m on the same bus, en route to the same destination - home. Only it’s evening, and the sky is a lighter shade of blue. There are no lights, but the din seems louder. It gets louder by the second. Part of me wishes it would grow loud enough to drown out the crackling radio and the horrid music it blares out to the benefit of no one in particular, and especially to my annoyance, but that could just as well be because of how crowded it is in here. There are three times as many people as there should be, and my limbs are contorted to fill up the little space they have to negotiate with. I’m bent at unnatural angles and feel like a broken doll, in more ways than one. But that’s just half an hour of the day spent avoiding stepping on people’s toes or having yours trampled on and cursing quietly under your breath, which is a small victory by any estimate. And once you’re walking home from the bus stop, you’ll forget. Early autumn evenings do that to you. The slight chill in the wind is a subtle reminder of the months behind you, and heralds those to come. But to me, nothing quite spells autumn in the city like the scent of cardamom. Every year, October brings life into my neighborhood, as the dozens of trees that line the pavements burst forth to present a spectacular olfactory marvel. The almost unbelievably sweet scent of fresh cardamom, from trees that have nothing to do with cardamom. Not even the rank smell of pre-Diwali firecracker smoke can overpower it. So I walk along the road, letting the chilly breeze toss my already-tangled hair around and the scent flood my senses.

A year later, I’m looking out the same window. But something has changed. Every song on the radio sounds like another I’ve heard before. Every new person I meet, reminds me of someone I used to know. I’m still heading home, but don’t think I’ll be calling it that for very long. It has all happened before, and I think back upon the times in my life when I’ve let go of "what is", with no knowledge of "what will be". The times one must let go of the ledge, without knowing what greets you down below, hoping for something to break your fall. Thrusting myself into the unknown has always been an adventure. Always looked forward to, and I always spent nights, days, months and seasons in anticipation of. But things have changed.

Today, I am here. Sitting in my room, painted red and in several shades of gray, now being flooded with wave after wave of the same cardamom scent, and I know that I’ve grown old. Because now when I look out glass windows, I no longer see. I only remember. And dread that one of these days, to remember just wouldn’t be enough.


Vismitha said...

I've been stalking your blog for a long time.
Dropped in to say a hi.

Sherry Wasandi said...

@Vismitha: You're very welcome here.
Glad you chose to de-lurk!

soin said...

leave the god damn place. 20 years is too long dont you think? and i like delhi a

Sherry Wasandi said...

@soin: 19 years.
And I've traveled enough to know what it's like everywhere else. I still like Delhi. I'm getting separation anxiety before the separation.

soin said...

got job or some college. my turn to transfer all the last year