Dusk

Dusk reminds me of being at Thana. When I say Thana, it only means one thing. It means being at my aunt’s house on the Thana main road. Yes, that house with the peacocks.

When my mom needed to run errands during the day, and there were no baby sitters around, we’d be dropped off at Thana. It was always fun being dropped off at Thana especially when my nephews, who were around my age, were home on break.

Of all the dusks of my childhood, the only mental snapshot I took was while sitting on that black vinyl couch by the floor to ceiling window with the black grills in front of the side verandah. The sound of bus horns peppered the evening noises of the mosque prayers and commuters rushing home.

My nephews weren’t home on break that day. I don’t think my brother was there either. I was dropped off by myself. All I remember is sitting on that couch, probably with a book nestled in my hands. Books were my closest friends as a child.

And somewhere mid reading, just like that, I must have taken that mental snapshot that has stayed with me all these years. That is what dusk is to me. It’s the Thana bus horns honking away.

That is where I got transported as I stare at the sun shining a bright orange, as I sit high above the clouds in this dimly lit cabin. I’m not transported to an image of a sunset. I’m transported to a time and place when I experienced a sunset where all my relevant senses were satiated.

Those selfish waves

4/15/21

Where there was a beach last week, there is none today. The waves are almost up to the rocky embankment that was likely built to keep the lapping suds at bay.

Isn’t the ocean so fascinating? Of how the waves are so relentless in its pursuit of chasing each other to the sands. At times its haste is so much that it climbs over the one in front of it, not worrying about hurting its friend. For they are all waves. They merge into each other. Becoming one. Rushing to the shores.

That is the only goal. Meet the sands.

The journey or the destination.

They’ve clearly made the choice.

And in their rushed journey, they’ve found one another.

The journey or the destination?

There is no clear answer.

Sometimes, on days like today, when the sea is overflowing upon itself, they reach for the rocks.

Teasing us with a threat… a threat that maybe one day, it will clamber over the rocks. And consume us.

The journey or the destination.

Those selfish waves.

The constant threat.

Thamara Noolinal

Movie: Mullavalliyum tenmavum 
Song : Tamara noolinal 
Music: Ouseppachan 
Beat: 3/4
Dm              C 
tamara noolinal melleyem meniyil 
Dm Am 
thottu viliku… 
Dm C 
thazhittu poottumen nenjile vaathilili 
Am.   Dm 
mutti viliyku….      

Am                 Dm 
ente maarodu chernnoru pattu moolu    
Am             F 
mani viralinai talamidu       
G F   Am Dm 
melle melleyenne neeyuraku  (tamara..)  

Dm 
veyilettu vaadunna poovu pole 
Am 
aa kattiladum  kadambu pole 
Dm 
oru kadal pole nin kaladiyil 
C(1)      Am        Dm           
tira nura kai kalum neetti nilkum 
A(2)              D 
ennittum ennittum ente nee ente 
G(1)         A        Dm 
nerukayiloru mutham tannilla?     
Dm Am C F 
Aaa aaa aaa aa  
Dm            Dm 
aarira rarira ro araro  aarira rarira ro 
(tamara..)  tara tarara….. 
Dm 
tirameleyadunna tingal pole 
Am 
teerathulavum nilavu pole 
Dm 
naru mazha pole nin poonchimizhil 
C         Am        Dm 
oru cheru muthamai kathu nilpu 
A                 D 
ennittum ennittum enthe neeyinnente 
G              A           Dm 
pular veyilinu pookal tanilla?  
 
 (tamara..) 

The Music Room

I quickened my pace, adjusting the straps of the tote on my shoulder, the snow underfoot making a quiet shushing sound with each step that didn’t do much to reduce the deafening quietness of the snowday. If I maintained this pace, I will reach the bottom of the stairs just as the train pulled into the platform above. By the time I make it up the 2 flights of stairs, the last of the passengers will be shuffling into the car and I will be able to join them. I can see the platform up ahead in the distance, people huddled in groups in front of imaginary doors, ready to rush in as soon as the train pulled in.

The snow weighing down the branches of the evergreens around me would have been beautiful if I cared. I bend my head down wanting to block out the snow that was blowing into my face.

I was nearing the house, but I didn’t hear any music coming from the house. I looked up at the window, but the window was closed shut. A part of me felt betrayed. I wondered what had happened to the old lady that I imagined lived there.

I first noticed the house 5 months ago when I first moved into town and started walking down this path for my daily commute into the city. I was about 20 feet from the house when I started hearing bits of രവീന്ദ്രൻ മാഷ്’s (Ravindran Master’s) melody drifting to my ears. I closed my eyes for a second as a chill ran through my body. My eyes traveled involuntarily to the top right room of the house and I noticed that the only window in the room was cracked open an inch.

This became a daily routine for me, and I started looking forward to the 30 seconds where I got to imagine a glimpse into the life a fellow മലയാളി (Malayalee). On certain days, if the music coming from the house was unfamiliar, I would make a note of whatever words I could distinguish, and try and identify the song online once I got to work. It was a game that I played with myself to take away from the monotony that was my life.

As the days wore on, and as Summer turned to Fall, crisping up the outside air, the walls of the music room began to get invisible in my head. I could see an older woman laying in bed next to the window, wanting to get a breath of the fresh air outside. There must be a lot of dry heat in her room. I pictured myself walking up to the door and knocking on the door and introducing myself. She would invite me in for a cup of tea and we would talk about life in Kerala, sipping on the milky sugary tea, and agree on how the newgen movies that the youngsters were making these days could never compare to the classic 90s.

Today was the first day that there was no music coming from the house. I chided myself for not having found a weekend to knock on the door and say hi. On an impulse, I started walking at an angle away from the station platform and towards the house with the music room. I hesitated at the door, trying to come up with a good reason for why I was ringing their doorbell at 7:18 in the morning. I rang the bell. No response. I waited 30 seconds and knocked on the door again. I heard a patter of soft footsteps running towards the door, and saw a wet nose pressed against the sidelight of the door. It was a corgi, his tail wagging 5mph. I heard a different set of footsteps, and the door was opened by a man of about 33 with a 2 day scruff on his face. His hair looked like he had been running his fingers through it, and there was a cowlick on the right side of his head.

“Hello” he said.

“Hi… ” I replied

He waited patiently, waiting for me to say more. His eyes looked red.

“I uh… this might sound weird, but I pass by your house everyday on my way to work each morning… and I hear music coming from the upstairs window”

I saw his face cloud over, and I backed up a couple of steps not wanting to be the latest victim of kidnapping.

“I meant to come by and introduce myself several times, but somehow that never happened. I noticed there was no music today… and I guess curiosity got the best of me” I said convinced that he must think I’m a wacko. I saw his red eyes watering a bit. Were there allergies triggered by snow?

“That was my grandmother… she passed away last Friday night”

I smacked myself for my lack of finesse.

“I’m terribly sorry. It wasn’t my intention to barge in like this. Especially when you are grieving. I’m sorry for your loss” I turned around to leave, hearing the chugchugging of the train in the distance, and knowing full well that I will not be catching my usual train that day.

“Wait. Do you want to come in for a cup of tea? It’s been terribly quiet in the house and I would love some company” he said weakly.

“I would love that” I replied pulling the phone out of my coat pocket to email my manager that I will be taking a PTO that day.

 

all the little stories that went unwritten until now