Saturday, May 3, 2008

The earliest memory I have of a house, is from years ago. I don't remember where it was, or what it looked like too much. There are hazy shadows where furniture might have been,  a kind of faded light permeated everything around.. probably from a 40 watt bulb. 
Soft brown layers of soot rested  on unevenly plastered walls, washed green, or blue? Soot also clung  tenaciously to webs beyond the reach of a round bristle brush attached to a long bamboo pole. 
Really high ceilings, the house was enormous, its walls soared  endlessly before hitting a dark ceiling.. wooden beams? terracotta tiles, I am not so sure now.

I remember a few smells too, a funny metallic eke of  fried fish creeping in through the windows at lunch time..smoke from a muffled cotton wick exhausted of ghee.. the sea, and above all the smell of fear like that of oily hair and  nycil prickly heat powder mixed with sweat-raw and rancid.

I must have been very small. I do not recollect  the source of the odours or reason for the fear. Two or three at the most. Is that old enough to experience fear? guilt?

Wish I knew what led me to this post.
Now that I am here, at the doorstep of this house, at the doorstep of fear, this  monologue has kicked in.  I feel like encouraging it a bit, playing with neglected ghosts and shadows. Who knows what a small fire can grow into.  I can come back with some other house from some other  place, for over the years I have lived in and across from many house- a lot of them I remember well enough to revisit in detail. 


Shireena said...

Nice, Chandan. It's striking how smells take us back in time in an instant, even before we know where they are taking us.

Wonderful lemon chai by the way.

Take care,

Nazu Tonse said...

Very evocative but a bit scary when I remember that three-year-olds are old enough to feel fear or guilt .. but in an ideal world they shouldn't have to feel either. And even in this less-than-perfect real world we live in, nothing a 3 year old does should evoke a sense of guilt.

Chandan said...

There is no way of dating feelings exactly .. when did you first feel happy?, jealous? ecstatic? afraid? angry?...Somehow every time I think of a sensation, an awareness of a space, a place comes first instinctively. Was trying to map feelings and how far back I could trace them and this came about.. I could be wrong, completely off chronology in terms of age and numbers for all you know.
As for an ideal world- its an oxymoron. And children go through the same experiences that adult have to some time. Is there an ideal age to face violence, hurt, abuse?.. Only reactions, the ability to cope differs.
Thanks for dropping by Nazu.


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