Landscapes of the Mind

Blue_LightsI have this string of blue lights in my bay-window. When they are switched on in the evenings, all I have to do is press on this little box that comes along with it, and the lights go on and off in various patterns – related to the number of times I actually press it.

Evenings are the time when I find myself really depressed, for no evident reason. I just think about lot many things and I am the kind who believes that all celebrations must go on, for ever. Evenings are, for me, the precursor to the end of the day, the end of light, the end of promise I like to see around me. The lights always make me feel as if I were at this carnival. There is a certain cheer in them and the faster they blink, the more my world appears to spin. It makes me a lot heady and feel much better.

They, the lights, are the first thing I notice when I get up early in the morning, to write. I leave it on usually as I sleep. The late riser I am congenitally, willing myself to get up is the hardest thing I could possibly think about. But there’s this strange thing about those pre-dawn writings. I know it’s very quiet then but it’s that I am not fully awake even as I write. It’s that half-way rendezvous between reality and sleep, a foggy Morphean landscape – quite similar to what I feel like when I write anytime. Things come flooding in, in torrents, and I float around like this dark-shrouded phantom flying through a fast-paced luminescent shower of silvery sentences. It’s a world of unsure yet immense possibilities, so dark and deep, so very mysterious and keeping my sanity or perhaps the tiring effort to keep it, is the only thing that connects me to the so-called reality.

Everyone who writes, I think, has this battle to fight, yet remain unaware of it. Sometimes, it spills over into our lives and it starts to make this imperfect world appear not to be. It’s where expectations start and in a perfect world, there are answers for the taking. It is easy to be led on when I live out of a dream. Feeding on the phantoms in my head, just as someone said it. It’s when I look up to others and also all things, material or not, to conform to the patterns I believe in, that everything goes haywire. The expectations are never answered primarily because they are perfect and this world is not. In a way, keeping these expectations in check is my way of remaining truly sane.

The backwater is a kilometer north but I can always feel it. It’s the breeze that comes in. In the early morns, it’s just a faint whisper against the windows, the tang not so expressive.

sp-mylvaganam

SP Mayilvaganam of Radio Ceylon

What is a whisper in the early dawn gets to become gusty, sometimes even choppy in the afternoons, almost coinciding with the siesta-time in Puthupally. The ubiquitous butter-milk which tops off the usual lunch has this way of making one drowsy and a ten-minute siesta is just right to take care of it. It’s gloriously tempting to think beyond ten minutes but some, like my Amma, preferred to sit in the fullness of the breeze and remain engrossed in their own private worlds, perfect or not.

She would tell me about how she and her three younger sisters would, after their morning house-chores, sit on the little flight of steps on the western part of my ancestral home. That was before she got married, in the late sixties. Just after lunch, my Amma would go to my Grandfather’s room and switch on the Panasonic transistor-radio, bought by my eldest Uncle while he sailed the world with the Boy’s Navy. Radio Ceylon and the Tamil announcer Mayilvaganam were quite popular in Kerala then, they had this Tamil film songs playing right through the afternoon, and the sisters would listen to the film songs from across the waters as they settled into a game of cards or just plain gossip.

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