All of a sudden the perfection of the moment strikes. The air is cool, the lights reflected back from the polished glass that keeps the outside at just the right distance. It is the Delhi summer after all and the tall bright pink bougainvillea that has climbed up the tree is beginning to show a bit of its age around the edges. The leaves shine green and yellow – the hot sun has aged them well. Their crinkles suit them, much like a bearded Sean Connery where all one can see is the twinkle in his eyes. These shine at me, through the glass in the gloaming now, waving gently, as if inviting me for a twilight dalliance. I may step out in a bit, give them their moment to have their way – or maybe not today. Let the summer grow them up a bit, give them more interesting shades before I indulge them with my presence.
Today, I stay in the cool comfort on this side of the glass. Polished wood reflects crystal – the lone piece I inherited from my grandmother. Brushing against it an antique silver caviar dish. Open it and you will notice that the glass case that is supposed to hold the caviar on a bed of ice is missing. One day I will buy a cheap ashtray that fits in there and begin using it for its own purpose. Till then its cousin and it – both similar, yet from different artistic traditions serve my purpose – to give me pleasure. The tagine reminds me of a favourite shop which used to remind me of the holidays I used to take. Its cool blue reminiscent of the mountains in the distance as smoke rose in the mornings.
Books, books everywhere. A layer below the coffee table, behind the knick knacks – bronze deities that have come to live in our home, adding a curvaceousness that mere books could never aspire to. At best they lean towards each other, finding comfort in their company. A nuzzle no more, they smile in gentle comfort. Not so the big coffee table books that plonk themselves in the centre of the room with much bombast. They have all been read by many who have passed through this place, but they are here for me, reminding me of moments that I had missed as I whizzed through places and times. The sun slants differently in this picture, it is evening and different from when I drove rapidly past that beach before the fishing boats had left for the morning. That town – it was sunny and cold when I was there, but the book brings its summer lights to me. These books have pieces of my heart that I left in all the towns I loved, returned to me in another season. Another time and place, I may have been there. I am here now. The dry, cold pages tell me to turn them, to move on.
More inviting are the reading chairs – they rock. Well, one does. The other offers squishy splendour while the third reminds me of cozy corners in favourite libraries. Each has a little light and a little table next to it.. books, nibbles, a little drink in a glow that excludes the rest of the world. Choose your middle or corner, and let no man or match come into your world. I, of course am typing this prone on the cuddliest sofa ever. The pair to it sits invitingly empty only a few feet away. Soon it will be time for the family to gather and the chairs will fill up the room with their warmth, the light in the centre will gently sway its approval of the stories of the day that are shared. Someone then will demand a movie, or a drink, and this moment will pass.
For now, it is mine. Cold and warm. Pristine, yet already the colours of the evening ahead have leaked into it. I sit with an iced drink pressing against me, while the laptop keeps me warm. I speak from here, the centre of my web – gently nudging the machinery of work and home, and motherhood and wifehood along soothing steady tracks. Breathe deep of the silence, wink again at the faded flowers outside, pick up the book that will never be finished, speak to a cousin at leisure, send off that urgent email, write one more paragraph about a distant teacher and her solar lights, look at my favourite handbag and smile. Till the doorbell rings, and I wrap up my selves to become the one again.
Ah yes, dinner is served.