The distant hills , veiled in mist , call for you in the solitude of the evening hours. Standing on the terrace , a halcyon wind blows , swifts through your hair , caresses you , quietens your soul : filling it with momentary peace.
The sun shines benevolently.
The vacation was wasted on idle thoughts ; an uncertain academic future ; a passion for the unattainable at a turbulent age.
In that feverish summer heat of 2004 , I helped with the household chores - Nani* had the most amazing will-power to work efficiently and make others work as well. Her food was always a relish.
The French exercises lent by an aunt were done with half-witted interest. And I had had such engrossing times learning the language a year ago...
The train moves through the nearest hill , approaching the tunnel. Further upward , the cars, trucks, buses move lazily on the road twisting out of sight in the shield of trees. Would they reach their destination ? Did they have one ?
The sound of anklets - chann chann - I listened in recognition : the Rajasthani Housewife. The terrace was a place of relaxation. On some days , a group of housewives from our building complex collected here while the children played in their puerile kingdom.
I conversed only with her : the woman from Udaipur. Her graceful musical steps announced her feminity - even before you saw her. Fair , dark eyes and neatly parted hair filled with sindoor. The sarees often smiled her demeanor ; their hues - greens , blues , fawn - were suffused with the freshness of Nature's treasures.
When her young son had no playmates , she would engage him in learning his alphabets. He had her fair skin and curly hair , tied in a little ponytail ; as per their customs , it was not cut since his birth.
I thought he was a girl , till she corrected me. Often , his voice carried over from the upper stairs to our flat below , ringing with a throaty appeal that contradicted the sweetness of his age.
I achieved nothing during those days. Neither worldly nor spiritual.
A void , useless , desperate existence.
It was a blessing , a thousand blessings when the time for returning back home arrived. The return would mean a new beginning , of which , I never imagined nor considered. A transition from the dreams to the ground of reality ; a spiritual change , a 'practising' faith of character-building , academic diligence.
The bus weaved its way through the hills. The rain spattered on the windows , disappearing soon ; you could unlatch the window , breathe in the sensuous night and soon enough the rain would beat down again. It remained irresolute : about duration as well as direction.
I could not sleep and did not try to ; night journeys were rare. And this was after three months of physical , mental and emotional imprisonment : a subtle release from an almost self-created cage. Three months - where each day had been besought , vexed , coaxed to hurry on - depart !
I was going home.
Soon to be with fleeting pleasures : castle and country , sea and storm.
The hills were dark , alive with the murmur of raindrops. The road meandered treacherously. In the shrouded darkness of the bus , the passengers slept ; while the night passed by them in her revelry.
Now I see cottage and country , sea and sunshine.
I want to go home....
* maternal grandmother