Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chapatis and Ikedori

I shun anything like a manicured garden. Mian and I have a lived-in, comfy garden. We have food for us, for the animals, and the bees, for most of the year. There are much-awaited seasonal events like the first irises, the sweet william, the first frost, and of course the great narrative of the fruit trees.

None of these have been planned. Nature has her plans, we bow our heads and receive her gifts.

And that is why it is odd that I have a great admiration for Japanese gardening. This love was sparked by a lyrical book, 'The Garden of Evening Mists'. In it, one of my favourite passages is  where the protagonist bends down to sip water from a ladle, from a small stone filled with water. As she sips, she raises her eyes and sees a mountain that would have remained hidden otherwise.

This effect is a planned one, using the concepts of ikedori/shakkei- to 'borrow' the outer landscape into the garden and aware- sense of haunting about the ephemeral nature of things. I am charmed by these concepts, but know I lack the skill or the inclination to adopt them.

But I underestimated how  generous Nature is.

I was making chapatis today for the Bhaloo who has begun to refuse rice. As I was bent over the rolling pin, I chanced to look up. And just below  the eaves, where I would not have seen it had I not been rolling that chapati, I saw this:

Serendipity, Nature- thank you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Remembering love

A working meeting of friends is a great way to remember a loved one, I thought. I was there for an all-India gathering of people, on the day one of their leaders had died. I listened as people walked up to the mike, reported on the work they had done, mentioned their plans and ended with 'Inquilab zindabad'. In all those talks was a mention of B and how she had suggested this, and encouraged that.

I felt their love, but it was when her husband spoke that tears stung my eyes. He was calm; there was no catch in his voice, no tears. It was what he said.

'Our friends were right when they said they could not capture all of B's personality. There were so many facets to her. I was lucky enough to be in a position to study her closely, I always kept trying to understand more of her. Everyday I would see a new side to her.'

'I still consult her when I am trying to do something. It is a habit hard to get out of. I relied on her so much for advice, for inspiration.'

'For the last 10 years, I have been living with the shadow of her death over me. But not her. She absolutely was not afraid of death. At the same time,she had not given up. She wanted to live. She loved her life.'

He went on, smiling as he talked of her. He laughed sometimes, was stern sometimes, as he gave instances how she had acted and how we should now.

And that is what I want for myself. That someday, Mian remember me with this love and affection. With tenderness and admiration. That he continue to 'consult his comrade because he's gotten into the habit of it'.

But for that, I need to become someone worthy of it. I need to be wise, and patient, and strong, and uncomplaining, and passionate, and committed, and fun, and so much more. Time to get to it