I was sitting at the bus terminus that would take me back to Kolkata far from this dreamy land of haze and sun. They look like twins that play hide-and-seek never tired of each other’s desire to outdo the other.This place where I have come to is a close door neighbour of the mountains. Mountains clad in green fur, with brown borders and jagged cliff holders. Streams run out and into the tall somber gray, asphalt and white hues with equal ease, like squirrels running in and out of their little posts inside the trunks.
I saw a little girl being led by her hand. The mother tripping about in a brisk pace and the child frolicking comforted in the secured clutch of her mother. As they went past me, I heard the girl parleying with her mom for a new video game she wanted. Far away a distant cloud remained hooked on to the sky like a huge silver fish floating about in the ocean, bottoms up.
I felt sad. I had a glimpse of the old life, a life that has been cast away like old soiled clothes.I could never come to terms with little boys and girls growing away, distanced from their soil. I had spent hours in the garden behind my house soiling myself all over, as I made mud puddles and tied strings on the hind legs of frogs and pulled them back every time they tried to escape into the wilderness. My elder cousin was the grand host. She smuggled out flour from the kitchen and made everything with it. It ranged from rice, dal to chicken and even tea. And I actually enjoyed the lunches and high teas and belched showing my culinary glands were whetted beyond doubt.We lived in a joint family and I have grown up shooting down green mangoes with my sling and later devouring them with salt along with three others in my gang and of course my cousin. With the sling on my shoulder I was the king of all I surveyed.
How those days were gone….do children muddle themselves on mother earth’s lap or lead a ‘dettol soap’ life….I wondered. The air had turned brooding olive, colouring my memory. A loud honk of a bus brought me back to meet myself today.My careless eyes wandered upon the little girl that went past me a few moments ago. She looked happy into the ground admiring a smile, matching hers, on the dust patch in one corner of the terminus. A small twig in her hand had acted as her brush. She had soil on her skirt and two distinct round mud-spot on her knees as her mother pulled her up and dusted her.I sat in the terminus peopled and throbbing, my face shining. It felt like I had finally let go of a lifetime of pain, anger and hurt. I knew I lived my life.My being felt healed, whole.
I had suddenly become aware of colours and sounds around. It was as if I was looking at the world through a new set of eyes. I wanted to dance, sing and celebrate, which was most unlikely at that moment.I realised that truth is like the cliff I was leaving forever today. Its golden yellow in the morning, ruddy in the afternoon, a purple haze in the evening and deep blue when night shrouds it over. It’s true every time you see it, and its different too. Truth is that we will forever be in love with our soil…the earthy smell of summer, the smoky vapours on parched land during the first showers of monsoon, the soft muddy touch of the wet months and the dry dead feel of winter.
Same soil and so different and so true, like the cliff high above.