Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I have had an obscenely happy childhood. And even in that, there were high pockets- times of absolute bliss. I was happiest during the summer holidays. I would then take a book and self down to the garden, find a nice place either under or on a tree, and settle down for the rest of the day. That was absolute bliss..
 Summer afternoons awaken all the senses. They smell of plants and fruit blossom and gently ripening fruit. The birds are silent then, but one can hear bees, and perhaps, a solitary bird every now and then. It is bright, and hot, but pleasant where one is sitting, and occasionally a cool breeze blows. The book is perfect- interesting enough to engage ones attention ,and light enough to allow a little gentle appreciation of the wildlife around.
Because that was the high point of these afternoons.
 When lying down on the ground or sitting on a branch, one’s nose is inches away from where all the action is. Ants collecting food, interesting beetles, mites, camouflage wearing moths- one suddenly is part of that world. But I haven’t been part of it for a long time now. I haven’t had a garden for the longest time, and I have not had the empty afternoons either.
 And that is the reason I am so happy about how I spent my Sunday. I took myself accompanied by a rug and a book to the garden. I spread the rug on the lawn and strategically placed myself so that my head was in the shade and feet in the sun, and read all afternoon through. And I am an idiot for not doing that sooner. Because I discovered a whole army of ants, and fed them crumbs. And I watched a babbler collect material for her nest. I discovered that the seeds of the flowers in my garden are fragrant in their sunny beds. And oh, best of all, I discovered that a kawati chapha grows in my garden.
 This is another part of my childhood that I considered irretrievably lost. The kawati chapha (egg-like flower) is a wonderfully fragrant shrub that used to grow in my garden at Sawantwadi. After I left, I never came across it again. On Sunday, when I was reading, I could smell this wonderful sweet-but-not-cloying fragrance but could not place it. But it felt so much like my childhood! It is only when identifying the smell became really important and i raised my head to search for the source that i discovered the ‘ornamental ficus’ in my garden was flowering. Ficus my foot! It was a kawati chapha!
 I think I will be spending a lot of summer afternoons like that.
 And for those who are wondering, I was reading a good old-fashioned detective story. Wilkie Collins’ ‘ The Moonstone’. Interesting, entertaining, exotic and not too challenging. Perfect.

1 comment:

ana @ i made it so said...

it has happened to me so many times, and yet i never fail to be surprised by how quickly a smell can transport me to another place and time. thanks for sharing this experience, so well told. and well, any blog entry with "ficus my foot!" simply means i'll have to poke around through your previous writings. i just have to! :)

thanks so much for sharing in the archive dive this week. it's your first time, right?