Home no more: when parting is such sweet sorrow
The bags were all packed; the furniture was stacked in a corner. The curtains, the fans, the family photographs — of his parents, of him with his wife just after his wedding on a trip to a quiet hill station, the one he liked the most, of his children with their spouses, of his granddaughter — had all been taken down. The rooms were empty, the walls bare.
He had signed all the papers with the realtor the previous day. He remembered how the realtor was shaking his hand vigorously, mumbling something about a deal well done, while he looked at him blankly, speechless and not knowing how to respond.
The packers will now come and shift the meagre belongings, the ones still left with him. He would be moving out the next day.
He walked about the empty rooms in a trance. Each wall, each corner, had its share of memories; the family space, where they had held birthday parties for their children and later for his grand-daughter; the terrace, where he had helped them out with their studies; its far corner, where he had helped his grand-daughter sail paper boats during the rain, which invariably turned turtle and sank near the drain.
He remembered the morning tea he would have with his wife on the terrace. She would point at the swallows that would gather on the malshree tree near it, and the koel singing there during the summer months. The swallows had disappeared lately; he didn’t know why. Someone told him it was because of a mobile phone tower in the vicinity.
He looked at the kitchen, now bare. Not so long ago his mother and later his wife had cooked the evening meals on the fire here, making chapatis while the entire family sat around it warming itself in the cold winter nights.
He once again lingeringly looked at the room, where not so long ago he and his wife had performed the griha pravesh ceremony. They had slept on its floor that night. A small Ganesh idol and an earthen pitcher were placed in its corner.
He looked out towards the small garden and the lawn that he and his wife had painstakingly tended to over the years. His wife was very fond of the flowers and their small garden.
He looked out at the tall kachnar tree, which they had planted together years ago. It would blossom, soon after Basant Panchami with its silver-and-mauve flowers. Come Holi and its leaves would begin to pale and fall: one by one, a few at a time sometimes. But the bell-shaped flowers would bloom, even as its branches gradually became bare. Day after day, it would be a fascinating sight. The tree would be bereft of all its leaves, while the flowers would be in full bloom, like small, delicate cotton balls, tucked away gently amidst the craggy twigs in those crimson and gold evenings in March. It seemed to symbolise life itself. Life, which struggles to grow and blossom — despite impossible odds, despite the realty of the all-pervasive evil around it.
The kachnar used to have a short blossom. It would be over within a fortnight. But by then, it was the turn of the amaltas, standing next to it. Its lemon-yellow flowers would fill out one whole corner of the garden. In the hot April afternoons, they would shimmer with an almost ethereal quality: like a Van Gogh Painting.
And then, when the summer heat was really on, the majestic Gulmohar in the far corner would turn flaming red. Its brilliance would match the flaming sun, up in the heavens. And, as if not to be overshadowed by the giant Gulmohar, the lowly lilies, which had lain supine for almost the whole year, would suddenly come alive, stand erect and burst into off-white and brick-red flowers. The whole garden would become a riot of colours, a feast for the eyes.
In another corner was the bael tree. People would come reverentially during the month of Shravan to a pick up a few leaves from it for the Siva temple. And, then there was the jamun tree, which would bring in the neighbourhood children, for a handful of jamuns picked up with a surreptitious glee.
The kachnar was, however, his favourite. He felt a strange kinship with it, he knew not why. Perhaps because it symbolised life itself, which struggles to grow and blossom. He had often just stood and stared at its fragile beauty as those crimson and gold evenings in March disintegrated outside.
His children had left for distant shores for a ‘better’ life. They had their careers to look after. He wondered where he had failed them. His wife had gone home several years back. They would be shifting him to an old age home with all ‘modern’ facilities, all for a reasonable package. He looked once again at the walls, the photographs, the terrace. And he just stood and stared at the garden uncertain of the days that were to unfold ahead, uncertain of the road he was to follow.
Will the kachnar tree continue to blossom in silent memory of someone, who had often stood and stared at it in admiration in those crimson and gold evenings like a lone morning forest star? Long after, the deep would have claimed him back into its own.
Labels: Home no more