We don’t usually have much to say so soon after previous pearls of wisdom, but something very nice happened. We are good-hearted creatures. Being disgusted by humans does not mean we do not love you. Luckily for you, our love is unconditional. We know our angry words (Articles), true as they were, must have pinched – and how! The truer, the more below the belt they hit. To get back to the point, being the good-hearted ones we are, we want to show you the truth of what we heard Mom read aloud the other day:
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
We’d love for Mom to take credit for these happy lines, but she’d chew us alive if she got to know we had given her undeserved credit. These are from Desiderata (See, we now know Latin too!)
Mom and Big Sis were kind of arguing the other day. It was triggered off by one of those videos being forwarded on the phones about safety tips before getting into radio cabs. Mom, as we have already mentioned (Bow How Ha elections), is rather over-anxious where Big Sis is concerned and she was trying to insist on a checklist before getting into a cab. Big Sis tossed her head impatiently. Her words ring in our ears: “Sure we have to be careful. But everyone is not a villain. You must learn to have faith and trust people.” Our super-keen doggy antennae sensed Mom’s mystification. She didn’t know whether to be proud of Big Sis or worried about her. But we know we love Big Sis even more. She is closer to our canine charter than so many others.
We were still basking in the glow of her words … well, to be absolutely truthful and less dramatic we were basking in the sun after two days of rain … when we noticed something.
Mom was smiling at creepers flowering as she murmured things to them. She does that, you know, talk to plants – as if chatting with us were not enough. We squinted against the sun and it was our turn to be mystified. The best part of the creepers with their flowers – their crown – was on the other side of the fence, on the neighbours’ side. What was Mom so happy about? Our super-keen antennae went into overdrive. We figured that she was happy at the flourishing. It did not matter someone else was sharing the harvest too. Once again, our hearts swelled. It seems our influence is working on this household.
We are at a loss for words, especially since we are determined to skirt the critical ones today. So we are sharing what a life well-lived means, something that we dug our teeth into in Suburb. Thank you, Suburb. And apologies for puncturing your pages. However, in the balmy mood of the day, we did not rip them to shreds.
It’s just a whiff
A vague perfume quite unrelated
Baby wipes of the 21st century to clean rain muck off the dogs
And your mind goes back fifty years
A grandmother rubbing lotion on her hands
A lotion from her stock of more youthful days – her favourite
How can a similar scent dissolve walls of time?
Walls and time that have been nowhere on your mind?
And suddenly you are awash with memories
Memories of a laugh, a story, a sari …
Something tugs you to your cupboard
And there at the back, long forgotten but treasured
A wispy French chiffon, saddening in its melting fabric almost a century old
But with that familiar smell of your childhood
You are certain
But you shake your head – who would believe you!
Life carries on
Punctuated by that aroma of something frying
That takes you back to a smoke blackened kitchen
A culinary project of your kids, iced-tea nuts
And your taste buds remember forgotten elegance
Elegance of simple home-made iced tea served in fine china, a rind of lemon, mint
Better than anything grand places offer today
Another day, another trigger
Fresh ‘rotis’ on the ‘tawa’
Before you know it, your sense of smell takes over
Takes you back to a stone-walled kitchen
Mother and daughter splitting half and half a warm ‘phulka’ impromptu snack
Giggling and chatting about nothing and everything
While the elderly cook who has been around for absolutely years
Smiles indulgently and asks if we want another one
The cook the ends of whose ‘odna’ you spent your childhood wiping hands on
After washing your hands covered in a dinner you ate
Sitting cross-legged on a clean kitchen floor
Just because you felt hungry on rushing indoors from play
And the dinner was hot, quasi-ready on the stove
O for that one dinner and the world can have its
Microwaves and ready-to-eat and takeaways in return!
You are walking in a mall hunting for football shoes or socks
An unexpected assault
A loving assault
On your senses as from somewhere –
maybe the shop down the corridor, or a stranger walking by, or a shopping bag –
A fragrance, an after-shave
And suddenly you are running into a room with the fragrance
Lifting you high as you scream in joy
A hug, a kiss, a pat – arms that are the safest in the world
No, the universe
A feeling of being the most secure, the most cherished thing in the world
Two unknown kids cycling as you walk your dogs
The ring of the bell
Sight and sound of mad cycling races years ago
A kid brother who’d follow you around, squabble, share midnight feasts, tell on you to Mom and Dad
A stranger walking past raises his eyebrows at the wistful smile that
Appears on the face of this solitary figure walking her dogs
Probably wondering, “What could she possibly be smiling at here?”
And so, life moves ahead
Sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste
That without warning dissolve those walls of time
A bite of a bhelpuri at a roadside stand after years
The taste of college back again
A sampling of your son’s self-taught pasta in tomato sauce
Morsels of your own experimentation in an apple green kitchen of another world
Does cooking style also come in the genes?
You pack your daughter’s office lunch
Life a full circle – a replica of yourself starting a career
Passing by a florist with the wind blowing a fragrance, a petal, your way
Brings a face to mind, a face without its lines and grey, a face of heady courtship
Even the pungency of a changing table in a public washroom
Takes you back to days of sleeplessness and diapers
Life does not stop and you count your blessings
Thankful for these unexpected assaults on your senses
Because they mean you have a wealth of memories
And a life well lived