The Chennai Metro Rail has taken over a part of a park in my neighbourhood for construction related work. The rest of the park has been low on maintenance. Regardless, under a large raintree between a crop of rocks where a fountain flows I saw this glorious cluster of cosmos, wild asters and sunflowers.
Whenever I drive past the place where my parents lived I look out for landmarks and buildings from their time: the blue building, the rain tree at the street corner, the little shop that sold almost everything from grocery to vegetables to stationery items for my school. Many of these landmarks are disappearing, the locality that is mapped in my memory does not match what I see around.
Today a friend with whom I went to college called me on the phone. We had lost touch soon after we completed college and when I heard her voice on the phone after twenty years I felt connected with a part of me that was gathereing dust if not disappearing. We lived in the same locality and we recalled all that we did together – we went to college by the public transport, walked on the Mount Road to visit libraries and she added that I ran for her quickly before the exams, the novels prescribed for study. She recalled that I narrated the story of ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ during the brief walk from the bus stop to college, and that I went on to elaborate on the metaphors used in the novel.
My parents knew my friend very well. With their passing away I have no one to share my excitement of meeting this dear friend. After the conversation with my friend I remained in the mood to recollect events from the past and extended it to search for objects that I have with me from that time.
I was shocked that, after hours of scouring through the house, other than my wedding saree there were only books from those years. I have given away the rest of the things during the years of accumulating newer possessions. And I was lamenting how Chennai and the neighbourhood I grew up in was heartlessly burying the past. Have I not been doing the same?
These two books are from my school and college days and there are many more that I still have, lugged through the cities and towns that I lived. The pages of the books have gone crumbly and have faded brown through the years. One is Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ (The hard bound classic from the Modern Library Series was published by the Random House), and the other is the paperback edition of Irving Stone’s ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’.
I have bought water brushes and I am using these to paint the objects around home. I feel liberated that I need not have to carry a little bottle of water around whenever I am painting. And water brushes are not difficult to handle at all, the water that flows out of the barrel attached to the brush can be manoeuvred with a little practice.
I hope to put these water brushes to good use during my holiday with my family at Manali. I have been shopping art materials for my trip: a brand new sketch book, pens, watercolour cakes and of course the water brushes.
I had a fruitful Saturday, got a bit of cleaning done at home before the day got too warm. I junked my old crockery, floated little flowers in beautiful saucers that were chipped (don’t have the mind to throw these away), converted a few blue ceramic soup bowls as candle holders, dusted the plates, dishes, tea cups, bowls that were in good condition, wiped those that were grimy and as they dried got myself a glass of chilled orange squash.
This khaki coloured handbag made of very coarse canvas cloth has been wih me for nearly three years, and it is in perfect condition: all zips and buttons in place. I carry my world here, on days that I feel like hibernating there is enough space for me to crawl in here! I carry in my bag medicines, face tissues, sun screen, vaseline, mouth freshner, chocolate bars, reading glasses, keys, mobile charger, stock of green tea bags, sketching and painting paraphernalia, a couple of books, a bunch of writing pens and of course my wallet. I am confident that I can survive and subsequently find my way back from any part of the world if I get lost with this bag, it is so resourceful!
There is nothing that is anymore new on my worktable, but I needed to draw to take my eyes off the computer screen. So the calendar and the tea mug became my subjects. I did a quick pencil sketch on the backside of a wedding invitation.