Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Winter Sun




I began typing this sitting outside my son’s school, waiting for it to get over for the day. As always, I was the first parent to arrive, because I am yet to get over the look in his eyes when he sees me as the first person at the classroom door. Before any other ma or papa or driver uncle. I like it that way, so I make sure I leave home a little early and catch his face lighting up before the crowd catches up with our special moment.

Today, though, I was exceptionally early. There were 65 minutes to go before I could get up from this plastic chair under the tin shed and walk up to his class to take him home. Who knew the part of the Ring Road that was squeezed by the Metro workers for months would be thrown open to traffic. What a relief really to have a full road, but still … how much can I just sit and look around now? And look around at who? Or what?

But then, have eyes had time and had to look around. 

The recess had just got over. While the bell announcing the end was met with a loud uproar, a sudden silence was descending over all visible parts of the school. Much like how a dry dupatta falls off the clothes line on the first floor and comes gliding down. In no real hurry but getting there. The silence. The breeze felt nippy. I tightened my stole around my shoulders, hid my hands inside, and re-crossed my legs for the 14th time. Some minutes must have gone by, when I heard a screech loud enough to make the bus driver in the far corner of the parking area turn, and make me look up from fidgeting with my phone.

The guard at the main gate had dragged his chair two meters away from the post and was now sitting in the sun; the metallic letters on his shoulders making tiny reflected moons on the nearby tree. And his face? Gloriously snug and warm. Seconds later, as if it was a sign I was waiting for, I did the same. I shifted my own grey chair right on the shadow line where the tin roof’s shade ended and a sea of sunlight began. 

To describe what I felt when I re-crossed my legs for the 15th time, this time in the sunlight, is impossible for me. It did not feel like first love, no, but certainly like the first warm kiss of the season. I knew that the dark blue top would absorb too much too soon and I will have to relocate, but who worries about teething babies on their honeymoon night itself? I still had a lot of time on my hands, but at least my hands were in the sun now. I looked at them. I ran my left thumb over the slightly visible veins on top of the right hand. Like a ship breaking through pieces of ice, tiny brown wrinkles of collected skin formed. Dryness, despite the lotion. That’s when a scene from my childhood scooped me away from the present …

It either used to be petroleum jelly, which one of her NRI sons brought for her, or mustard oil. Most of winters you would find her rubbing either of those on her arms and feet. My grandmother. My dad’s mother who would enjoy the winter sitting on a folding bed in the tree-lined back yard, and always in the sun. More than the gold bangles it was the patterns on her wrinkled skin that held my childish attention. If I think now, I would say they looked like hexagons made from the most delicate glass. They shone so bright. So thick the layer of oil, so thin the skin. Once done, she would call for her sacred book and its exquisite wooden stand and go oblivious to the world around her, a world which was making its own life around the winter sun.

The older children, with their backs towards the brightness because young girls just didn’t want to get tanned, would be busy with their school books. Winter holidays never came without home work! One of us from the middle rung would be seen helping an aunt spread the orange peels and amla slices on newspapers. To dry. In another sunlit patch, empty plastic jars would sit agape, to be ‘dry-cleaned’ to hold this winter's pickles. Pickles too would be basking in their preserved glory a safe distance away from the two youngest imps throwing mud around, digging the flowerbeds and burying broken idols hoping for a temple to grow. At least one pair of just-washed sneakers would lean against a wall, snoozing in the sun, much like the writer of this post would right after lunch and just below her favourite mango tree, with a shawl on her head because some falling leaves can have tiny bugs on them, plus those fruit flies ... 

There was so much happening in the Sun back then, that the Sun just couldn’t have got bored for the day. Today, I sit wondering here in Delhi - where is the time, the space? Where are the people? And where is the full blown winter sun to enjoy? And then I answer myself – I think we bored the winter Sun away. Because even when we have such moments of free time on our hands and a bright sunny sky, we just don’t know what to do with them. 

Maybe, those bright patches of yellow sneaking in from our windows and doors or catching us unaware outside offices and schools are just asking us to see. To look closer, even if at our own hands. For who knows what streams of thoughts, what journeys into the past are waiting to happen. What bonds asking to be re-lived. And what stories knocking up there, hungry to be told. Spontaneous ones … told just as they come to mind, like this one here. Unedited for now, but a polished version of it waiting especially for him, for bedtime tonight. 

Him. My son. The one I was the first to pick, today again, and around whom my life now revolves. My sun for all seasons to come. 

38 comments:

  1. Beautifully penned ! I admire your ability to put random thoughts into words while sunning outside a school. Amazing !

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    1. Thank you for liking this. So glad! :)

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  2. Your ability to weave a story out of a random usual occurrence is awesome. If I had to put it rudely, I'd say you mademe read something that has no beginning and no end, but It was pleasurable. :)

    Cheers
    CRD

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  3. Wow, that was quite a walk down memory lane and quite a few rhetorical questions asked about our busy lives today, and to think that it all started with you reaching N's school early speaks volumes for your ability to link seemingly unconnected things. Lovely post Saks.

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  4. Lovely read! I am happy to be living in a place where we don't have winters but still this piece brought some strange longing for winter Sun. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you to you for reading, Beloo, and for the connection you found with this post. :)

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  5. Beautifully penned Saks. Reminded me of my own childhood and the winter sun with the neighbourhood aunts and Dadijis. :-)

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    1. Glad you liked it,Reks. Thanks for reading! :)

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  6. Great post and glad you are enjoying sunny days in the winter.

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    1. So far so good. You never know when Delhi's winter sun plays truant.
      Thanks, Fayaz!

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  7. So serene and beautifully woven Sakhi! This transported me to my grandparents garden where we used to sit in the sun and enjoy mumphali! :)

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    1. Ah, mungphali. How could I forget. :)
      Thank you so much for liking this, Aditi, and for the Twitter share.

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  8. Beautiful! I especially liked "My sun for all seasons to come." Waiting time well spent. :)

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  9. I miss the winter sun here in Pune where it's hardly winter. Nothing like a mid-morning snooze in the warm sun. We'd lie on our stomachs on chatais in the lawn and read for hours. What amazing memories you brought back.

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    1. I'm glad I jogged you down that lane, Tulika. How we miss those times. those days.
      Thanks for being here!

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  10. Sunny days in winter and removing those gloves and enjoying the sun, those were the days. Now I am in Chennai and its hot, hotter and hottest so thank you for making me enjoy that feeling after a good long 12 years.

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    1. You guys should plan a trip to Delhi to enjoy the cold. Can't promise you the Sun but can my hospitality. :D
      Thanks, Athena!

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  11. Oh how I love the winter sun, for at least then I am not bothered about the tan and can enjoy the warmth..There is a nip in the air in my city and I am loving every bit of it .
    Loved reading about your sunny moments..

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  12. Beautifully written. Winters are fun to enjoy, sun and loads of fresh salad vegetables. This refreshed my memories of growing up in Delhi. No such luck down south.

    About sons.....they are lovely and so much fun to be with. But be prepared for occasional sun-strokes in teenage.

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    1. Yes, you must be missing winters there, no doubt.
      Woah! I'll keep the sun-strokes in mind.
      Thanks for reading, Ranjana.

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  13. Lovely! I've visited Agra many times in winter, and always enjoyed it. We would come mainly for Satsang, and apart from doing that, we would have no agenda....those days were blissful.

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    1. Agra winters are just like Delhi's. Cold, dry and harsh. I guess what we remember are the things we did (and with whom) to keep ourselves warm. :)
      I am so happy to see you here. Thank you for reading. :)

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  14. I really loved how your thoughts slowly unfolded and revolved around the sun. I used to and still love the warmth of a winter sun. That feeling of ahhhhh ,,, the comfort ... sitting in the garden drying my hair :)
    The ending is absoultely beautiful :D

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    1. Drying wet hair in the sun is the single most-successful way to feel sleepy. I loved it too! And how the hair shines when it is sun dried! :D
      Thank you so much, Rajlakshmi. Happy you liked it.

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  15. Nothing like watching people and the daily activity around us.
    The Sun ....... it really mesmerizes me........ I love to see the morning Sun and the long shadows it creates.

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    1. Good to know someone, like me, likes the morning Sun and not just sunsets. I am obsessed with clicking pictures of the first rays of the sun as they enter my house at dawn. For me, it's the setting sun which casts long shadows. :)
      Good to see you here, Haddock. Thank you.

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  16. What a beautiful nostalgic read that was! Most of my childhood was spent near Delhi. I remember during winter vacation, I would take a late shower in the afternoon and then sit outside on the terrace with my back to the sunshine. . .trying to do holiday homework, and how the hair would turn hot and then I would have to move to change the angle with the moving sun. That special warmth is difficult to find even in the first kiss.

    Apart from all the winter-y moments you mentioned, including pickles and sneakers soaking in the sun, I have another special memory - all the sweaters that aunties, grannies and moms would be knitting. Loved those colorful balls of wool that I was not allowed to touch. And how I would 'happen to' drop one of the balls and set it rolling on the ground. Haha.

    Loved this post! And I want to hear that bed time story too :)

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    1. That 'trying' in the 'trying to do holiday homework' being the key word. I could just never concentrate enough when studying in the sun.
      One of my aunts used to knit sweaters and I remember those balls of wool shining in direct sunlight. Are we no longer doing even half of the activities we used to back then? 'Happen' to drop ... :D ... you naughty one!
      Thanks, S. Will share that bedtime story too sometime. :)

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    2. True that! :D
      Waiting eagerly for the bedtime story.
      In the mean time, I was inspired to write about my winter moment.
      http://toblog-withlove.blogspot.in/2014/11/saturday-sunshine.html

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    3. I read and commented. Fantastic post.

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  17. A refreshing post on what it takes and miles to surmount in our busy life to enjoy a winter to make the soul healthy. Winter is bliss like the writer's words:)

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    1. 'to make the soul healthy' is a lovely phrase.
      Thanks, Vishal. :)

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  18. This took me back to another time... another era...
    Immersed in so many memories now!

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    1. Good to know my musing helped jog your memory. :) I think nostalgia is a lovely, lovely thing.
      Thank you for stopping by, Loco.

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