The auspicious Chhath sun has just risen. It’s sneaking into my drawing room, making itself comfortable on the sofa, touching the console’s marble and tapping its fingertips on the dried flower arrangement sitting in the corner. The birds have woken up too, to the sound of firecrackers going off in a nearby park, where a make-shift pool has been built for the blessed dip. Through the light mist that is typical of early winters in Delhi, I can hear chirpy school children crossing my window to go from the Press Colony to the main road bus stand; kicking pebbles, playing spit, pulling out leaves or swinging their oiled plaits. Some, of course, are dragging their feet and lagging behind. Sleep-lagged, perhaps, or with nothing new to look forward to in the day except for broken desks, torn books, dirty dark blue uniforms and truant teachers. They don’t even want to take their hands out of the pockets to wipe their noses …
Another celebratory firecracker goes off in a distance, making the thin layer of holiday dust at Buddha's feet quiver with ecstasy. The Sun is being blessed with our prayers today. Or is it the other way around? It does seem a different shade of orange but that could be my imagination!
I have folded my legs on to the dining chair, tucking in the toes which are the first to feel the nip, and am looking around at a very still house. It seems to be resting, taking a breather and breathing in leftover lingering fragrances of cologne and baby talc, Bournvita and toasted bread, and half a tin of Cherry Blossom on each Bata shoe. Breathing in like me. The two hours of madness that every working morning means have melted into a quiet which usually spreads gracefully into every known and unknown corner of my house. And mind. Usually.
Except, the bachelor neighbor is cooking his lunch and hitting the steel ladle on the thick kadhai with gusto. I’ve heard he’s taken to cycling early mornings. Separated by two backyards, can’t really sniff to tell what’s cooking out there. An infant is incessantly crying in the flat above his. This curly-haired boy has a very nasal daadi and I will hear her voice any second now, asking him Chhonu, kya hua, Chhonu? His parents must have left for work by now. But her house is not empty.
My mind is empty but for one nagging wife - What does one write about, when there is nothing to write about?
I should probably finish the last two slices of apple on the black-and-white Melamine plate before me. That might help as I wait for answers. Or something, anything. They get brown with time, those slices, thanks to the iron. I will eat them soon, after forking the triangular banana corners which he’s lovingly left for me and certainly before the box of Khasta Rewri trying to seduce me with its gur glamour right next to the healthy plate. My uncle said they are from the best shop in Doon. One bite and I knew he wasn’t lying. I am so sure my dining chair can feel the weighty difference post Diwali. My belt most definitely can. Is it making a creaking, stretching, leathery sound? One can’t tell when the silence within the home is so loud.
The firecrackers have stopped, though, and the birds are finally singing louder. The fridge is going drrrrr-grrrr. The keyboard click-click. The brooming bhaiya is at it in the back lane, making piles of leaves where he should be, ideally, picking them. They still use wheelbarrows which must be extinct in many countries! Suddenly one day smoke will drift into my kitchen window. Yes, that’s when I know he has stealthily set fire to the small piles. I’ll have to switch on the noisy exhaust fan then. Oh, you missed hearing the doorbell ring when the newspaper guy came to collect his 250 a moment ago. Or the conversation which was all about safeguarding our respective ten-ners. It remains the same, you know, month after month, and I am not the one who gives in, mostly. I like change in my wallet. It’s good, nay great, for times when you are short of time…
It’s funny to feel so free that you can hear the clock tick, when there is much work waiting to be done. Is this a kind of freedom? To just remain in one place, gently erasing from the mind’s eye all deadlines marked in red? Must be plain laziness, really, or shirking of duties, or mithai-induced lethargy. Blame it on the sugar, though I shrug to say I don’t know. One knows so little, sometimes.
What does one write about, when there is nothing to write about? Hm. I guess one just writes, you know, no matter how pointless the piece.
Consciously Created Pointlessness... is quite freeing. I’ll have a khasta rewri now. And probably put my feet back on the ground, to get up and get set and get going.