I am back to my blog after quite a while. I thought I was getting knotted in my own voice and was feeling like a frog in a well. I felt a need for some space and distance. Besides, despite my fuller, busier office schedule these days, I need better discipline to invest quality time writing here.
Last Friday, exactly a week back, Anusha and I went to visit my sister Beana and her 3 kids in the northern tip of Kerala. We were there for just a little over one full day, but how the time and space of that lovely place lingers within!
On such trips, almost always I leave with a heavy heart. I feel terrible leaving Lola behind. The comfort of an established routine and my home is not too easy to vacate. Getting out of the familiar order is painful.
When my life is just what is in front of me at a particular time, the excitement of other equally or more challenging aspects of my life get lost. I often mistake the trees for the woods. Life has many components to keep in view.
It is the same at office. Deciding to get out of my office cabin happens after a battle waged inside. Being in a state of motivation means opting for the adventure inherent in the letting go of sameness. And stretching out to touch the fear of the unknown.
Gifts await every time I embrace the uncertainty of the unfamiliar. To start with, being with Anusha was the first surprise gift. We had an open, good conversation going, in the train. Such times lead to cementing of ties. Gratitude for her genuineness and her intellectual brilliance washed over me. Such journeys have the power to show people in a new, tender light.
When we reached Kanjangad station around 7 am, the auto arranged by Beana was waiting for us. For most of the 40 km journey through hilly terrains to her village we had the road almost to ourselves – we did not see too many vehicles plying. That is very unusual in Kerala.
When we reached close to the house, Beana and her two kids were waiting with the broadest of smiles at the base of the steep slope leading to the house. We walked the distance, as the auto could not manage the climb.
Nowhere in the world have I encountered such silence as it exists in Beana’s place, in Kandupally village. Words spoken cut into the silence like knife. In the afternoon shower, I heard the distinct sound of the rain drops pattering on the tree leaves near the house. In the stillness, it seemed I could even hear the thoughts racing in my mind. The constant background sound of the stream nearby falling gently down a steep rock, about 70 feet high, only accentuated the silence. I could not get over this gift wrapped in silence.
Beana’s house is an ancestral property and stands on a hill, blending with the surroundings. She maintains it very well excepting for the leaky taps which urgently begs for some attention. On the walls are several pictures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and many saints. Then there are pictures of Avirachan who died just about two months back.
My sister was not her normal happy self. It is obvious she misses her husband. On asked about it with persistence, she told me, particularly the evenings are a little tough. My questions were really stupid, I should have known. The three kids stayed chirpy throughout our stay,
After lunch, we started making a fruit trifle. The jelly took a long time to form. I also helped Beana with preparing chilly chicken, all the while stuffing myself with banana fries. That tasted heavenly. Shiney, my niece from a nearby village too was there for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the simple conversations, pulling people’s legs, the laughter and togetherness.
Finally, after several hours, the jelly set and we got the trifle ready. Everyone relished it excepting Divya and Diya who did not seem very enamored of it. After dinner and prayer which was the last activity that day, it was time to retire.
Alone in my room, the deep silence of the place again confronted me with vehemence. I understood the meaning of ‘the sound of silence’ then. It induced longing for intimate conversations and companionship. Then I read for sometime before going to sleep.
I was awake by 5 in the morning and lay on bed, absorbing the peace of the mountains. It was then I heard the sound of a piercing, mellifluous whistling. Ignoring it for a morning alarm on a mobile, I lazed on the bed, till the darkness in the room ceded space to the morning light. While having my morning tea, Beana asked me whether I had heard the whistling of the koel. That was how I discovered the source of the early morning song. And I marveled.
Sitting in front of the house after a bath, a book in hand, taking in the sights and minute sounds – of birds chirping, the constant chatter of the stream nearby, Shiney and Beana going about their work in the kitchen – were luxuries that warm my heart even now.
Then Treasa, Anusha and I decided to go to the well up in the hills from where the house gets its water, without using a pump. The trek which lasted a little over an hour was one of the most blissful walks I’ve ever had. We walked through rubber plantations, climbing all the time, under an overcast sky. The air was cool and as I write now, I wish I had the sense to talk less – to feel the cool air coursing through my lungs as I breathed.
Anusha later told me that the beauty of the terrain we walked through mesmerized her and it was the best place she has set her eyes on in the entire world. It is amazing how some amazing gifts pop up when we least expect them.
Before packing my things, I visited the stream near the steep rock face in Beana’s property and sat listening to its gurgling complaints. During the heavy rains, the stream, as it falls down the huge rock is a mighty, ferocious waterfall. Treasa told us stories of rocks and tree-branches hurtling down the rock face during the monsoons.
When the time came for us to leave about 1-0’clock in the afternoon, there was something tugging at my heart, begging me not to leave.
A part of me is still in that heavenly place. As for Anusha, she is bent on buying a small plot of land and build a small hut somewhere close to the stream, near the well in the hills.
Thoughts of Beana and her kids too linger. That was the best part of the trip. Gifts like their love and innocence can’t be bought for anything in the world.
I spoke to Tresa a few times to record the song of the bird on mobile and send it to me. She says the bird does not sing nowadays.
I hope the bird gets over its sadness over my absence and sings again.