The grape bursts on my tongue, a wicked sour that floods along the taste buds. The narrow windows painted an even prusian blue are warm against my head, the book I was drowned in has ended, and I lay washed up on the shore.
The air smells of summer and silence, the kind of silence that only a neighbourhood at peace can offer.
The grass grows on the side of the road here, cows lumber on splattered with dung, chewing contently on scraps tossed from houses.
My grandmother saved the corners of the watermelon carved out today, I can see it lying on the grass outside, waiting for bovine teeth to chew on it.
White butterflies flit over the overgrown garden, the sunlight forms narrow slats on painted houses through the shades of trees. The birds titter and chirp, and a man mounts a bicycle, the nearest transport is twenty minutes away.
My grandmother is a small woman, sturdy in her eightieth year. Currently she is counting the lemons in the tree grown by the tank in her small backyard.
There is also a used ceramic tub filled overgrown with grass and a few cats lounging in the late sunlight.
The most fascinating thing about the house, is the quaint self-sufficient size of everything. It has tables, chairs, plates spoons, microwaves, tv-set and three beds, yet all of it is of a strangely small size, like a dollhouse.
My grandma mostly lives alone, a woman with an iron will who has visited almost all parts of this vast country, and a few other countries, alone. After she retired.
She will be going to Ladakh in May, and then get cataracts operated; she dropped that on us in matter-of-fact way. Her daughters cannot complain, she lives on her pension fund.
As one of her five grandchildren, I would stare in morbid fascination as she took off her teeth and put it in a dental solution every night. Saves the hassle of brushing teeth, these dentures.
She had them made when she lost a few teeth, ‘screw it-take them all off, they’ll fall off anyway”
On the first floor landing, lies a table with a hammer, a bronze sculpture of a face, a few other sculpted pieces lying in dust and a half formed woman in wood. She is an artist, and a retired teacher of math.
The lego-like houses are framed with open drains, and mosquitoes the size of small eggs waft in and around, leaving inflammed love-bites on neglected body-parts.
The swaying date-trees laugh in the strange breeze that wafts over the summer heat, the small telly is blaring a nonsensical relic of urban living, a Bollywood production that sticks out like a sore thumb in the serenity of half-cemented roads and creaky easy-chairs.
I’ve slept better than I have all year. In my own double bed of comfort and loneliness, I’ve lain awake till the early hours of dawn, but here, entombed in a mosquito net that kept out every ounce of breeze, I lay in bed staring at a moon that seemed to hang right outside my window. The heat was strangely soothing beneath the flimsy shift I had been forced to wear because city-clothes were no match for the heat of this heaven.
After a long time, the headphones lay by my bed, unwanted. I try to think of the depression that often takes hold of me in its jaws and shakes me like a ragged doll, but it’s nowhere to be seen.
I have a bag full of books, and the thoughts in my head are for once not fighting a war.
It’s one of those hours, when the sun is still shy of the horizon, and the slain are retrieved for burial in the broken battlefield.
Today, I will be leaving, and the laze in my limbs flows with the knowledge that it is short-lived.
I will be returning to my world, shortly- but for now I am content.
The house is infused with the smell of chicken curry my grandma is cooking up in the kitchen. She refused all help, my mother was banished to a corner when she offered to cut the onions.
My stomach rumbles, for tastes that would seem out of place everywhere but here. I will shortly get up to set the plates, that at least I am permitted to do.
I have missed too much, barely grasped the essence of what I see, hear and feel in this familiar landscape, but I must go.
I wished to write, so that I remember these days.
So that I never forget, what life is worth.
What I managed is probably a ghost, the lingering cool after you wash your face, and the fan carries with it the heat from your skin; but half-forgotten memories are fuller, brighter than those in technicolour.