Mosaic floors embedded with broken bits of colourful tiles stuck into its grounded stature at 254/4, Pioneer Colony, shone with the perfection of a man clad in a tuxedo on his wedding day. They held some chillness in its flat being owing to the modest winter setting in, in the humid city; bearing the silent imprints of the footsteps walked around, in the house. Big, Appa-feet shuffling around the hall whose ever-searching eyes pored through the morning newspapers. A pair of slightly smaller, heavier feet previously adorned in silver anklets whose sounds resounded through the enclosed walls, now roamed around bare; making short trips between the kitchen and the dining table. The sari-clad mother, Amma, held in her hands tiffin-boxes and vegetables for the day while the wrists bore plastic bangles of red, auspicious. Oh, then there were these feet one couldn’t see as they were slipped within white canvas shoes gleaming in the tweak hours of twilight, of a young girl in two plaits whose morning smile was as heavy as her black school bag; whose prints followed her in a momentous memory till the balcony doors before she wheeled her bicycle out through the hall and into the lobby of the ground floor. The un-oiled, rustic lock of the balcony’s grill-doors smiled at her, a hard smile visible only to observant eyes. Papa stepped out into the dark of the eons a little before sunrise till the hallway to shoo away any wild stray that might smell the porridge off the teenager’s scalded lips in an ironed uniform of blue, and waved her an affectionate bye as he saw her riding away into the dark void before the first rays of sun could reach her. Perhaps, she could have waited for the world’s embrace of translucent golden love before she starts on her journey. Things seem so much simpler then.
His steps traced back with a tiring embrace of the names of his favorite gods for the good filter-coffee from his wife and, the black and white papers of the nation. It posed, waiting for him on the teapoy and the teak sofa by the window. Appa made his way into the house though, keeping his parched throat in a wait for his nerves had to be satiated with the taking out of the trash, arranging the empty boxes on the teak-wood table, bringing down the clothes from the vibrant nylon ropes now that they are dry while calling out to Amma for the coffee in all obviousness of his day-to-day activities.
‘Be right there’, she hollered and then began calling out to the early winged visitors of the crow community for breakfast in the backyard, on the concrete luxury of a water motor sump room.
The hues of the sky changed. The sun decided to wake up from another world, a unanimous decision of millions of people who took the big source of life for granted. Life, in their terms always got better when the orange ball ascends. There was App sipping his coffee from the stainless steel tumbler, relishing it with words of the morning papers so far favourable. Amma had begun the string of chants and prayers that would go for at least the next forty five minutes calling out to all the ancestors and gods to protect her family. Gods. Lots of them. Ones with animal heads, ones with human heads and a divine halo. Gods with several hands and hour-glass figures. Lovely goddesses in sparkling diamonds on both sides of their noses and some with matted hair. Amma knew them all, as They walked into the house, supposedly with an assuring note to kick-start her day.
As the rays of the sun now streamed and penetrated through the curtain-less windows of the bedroom windows open to fresh air, a child twisted her bare body to shield them away from its small self. Her tender feet had yet not met the cold floor and were still within the flimsy covers of the big bed. Tousled hair fell over her eyes and the beginning of the nape and no more. The skin shone with exuberant gold as the radiance bounced off the naked back beginning to now extrude glistens of sweat waiting to be trickled off. Tossing for air, the child rolled, calling for Appa (who had switched off the fan) in soft tones that her morning energy could allow. Laying still and waiting for Appa got to the little one in all the heat the humid city could bundle up. Blankets were then kicked in slow motion and those tiny eyes tried to blink through sleepy vision for the initial staring of the day. The thin, half-naked body in just a navy-blue underwear with yellow hot air balloons for a print lay still, breathing. If one saw her from the door of the room, they wouldn't know for sure if that child so cherubic is a girl or boy, at the first glance given her tiny frame and short hair. But I know her more than she thinks she knows herself.
She’s a little, little girl, and I've travelled through time to see her non-conforming looks, innocence and happiness in the eye, again after all these years.
The placid walls and heavily descended golden transience opened her to an unintentional cosmos of what seemed to be real to the rest of the world. She got down with every whim of a child and stood up on those short legs. Her pink lips let out a yawn and her hands broke into the air, fighting with the angels and pushing them against the rooms’ loft that she now stood under. She then adjusted her ballooned underwear, imprinting its elasticity on her delicate navel to view the pink band across its existence. Pouting and pushing her hair away from her face, she took slow steps with me into the long hallway; past the long oval wooden dining table and into the living room.
Appa hadn’t seen or heard her tiny stature pull herself out of imagination and dreams onto the cold winter morning until she knocked on the leafy portal wide open between his brown hands. He pulled them close to look at the fair girl with a radiant glow rolling her fist into her eyes. As her hair set about scattering when it met with the morning breeze from the window by the sofa, she sluggishly mounted onto his strong laps. Appa collected her into his magnificent arms as she twisted and turned to finally roll into a riot of a ball, legs hanging down his lap; a hand around his back against the red cushions of the sofa, and her round head resting on his chest. He held the tiny, little bundle of a girl who is all tenderness and love as she swiftly fell into abyss, sleeping to the creaky, fixed journey of the living room fan in the ceiling, throwing at her, tufts of air.
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