Friday, December 28, 2012

Reached Home

We caught a bus back to Pune last night. The bus was from Miapur where the ‘bus stop’ was a small, tinny shed with an open field for a latrine. Buses shuddered to a halt there, not because there were passengers waiting but because little bugs of rickshaws kept getting in their way.
Our bus was late. It was cold. The shed served sweet (and I do mean sw-ee-ee-ee-t) tea in thimble-sized paper-cups. People around me had lit up their ciggies and a huge pancake sort of moon heaved in the sky. It looked a little yellow and bloated, like it had eaten the wrong sort of starry mushrooms. I took our luggage and sat on the dusty curb and took out the book I was reading. {It was a really light read: ‘Confessions of a Listomaniac’ by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan. It has a bright, yellow cover with a drawing of a girl emerging out of a list. Ordinarily, I would finish such a book within an hour. But for some reason I was taking it all in slowly. It’s not a great book but it’s good in places you don’t expect it to be. The main plot of a teenage girl finding herself in the clique-y strata of school, navigating boy troubles, figuring out who her real friends are, who she herself is – it’s all a little trite (down to a slightly iconoclastic brother who will of course be called ‘Shiva’. And all attractive males will have names beginning with the alphabet ‘A’. Why is that, I wonder? Even in movies? Or in mainstream media? If it’s the ‘hero’ or someone important, his name is a Hindu name beginning with ‘A’.)}. But there are places where the descriptions are precious. Like where she explains her grandmother’s reliance on her driver, Sukhdev. It reminds me of a paramecium type existence older people create around themselves along with their help. I have seen that kind of equation between my grandparents and their help. There’s trust in those relationships. There’s respect, there’s a sweet taking for granted, there’s a ‘until-death-do-us-part’. I really liked that bit of the book.
Then, there’s a section about an art contest that Reddy describes. Especially the main character’s entry into the contest. The painting is washed in blue and violet. There are silhouettes of two people walking along a lane that is crafted out of icons of FB, phones, computers, emails, etc. – whatever we use to stay connected with each other. The bushes in the painting are huge rotary phones. I think that painting did much service to the story that the rest of the 100 pages did not. It was a very sensitive, sweet tribute to…well, friendship, yes…but something more nuanced than that. Yep…it was a sweet, sensitive tribute to connection.
I liked the parts of the book that gave me a glimpse of the world in which the main character lives. That, at least for me, was more interesting than the character herself. The world was a Delhi I remembered as a child. Much of it is the same even now, I think. Especially amongst the older families in any Delhi neighborhood.A faimilar set of places. Familiar dinner scenes. Familiar house parties. Those parts were good.
The bus reached Pune early in the morning. It was cold when we got off at Shivaji Nagar and I bit my lip in pain as we hurtled towards Baner in a rickshaw.
A opened the door and I stepped into the homey earling morning darkness of my living room. My cave. My little square inch in the whole wide world that I have felt ‘settled’ and ‘at peace’ in a long time. You know, sometimes, a home becomes a living being. It becomes this child that you tend to ever so often and then one day you leave.
But when you return to it, it returns to you.
Home. I reached it.


radha said...

I love your blog posts and writing. Your home sounds wonderful. Stay safe.
I am not sure if you have read this book yet - The Elegance of the Hedgehog. If you havent you must, I think the writing will appeal to you.

Mukta said...

Thank you, Radha. I haven't read the book but last month a colleague had recommended it. I'll try and get it soon!