The bags are packed and in the car. The week has been wonderful, and has added to my memories of this white bungalow, for I’ve relived my childhood and seen Vidya live hers. I’ve not yet been to see Sharada chechy. I know, if I do, that I’ll cry, and she’ll cry too. But I’ve not been to see her mostly because I hate goodbyes. I never seem to know how to tell the word, especially to family.
“Is it goodbye, if you come back soon?”
I see her in the mirror and turn around.
“Veluthayi kutty, but you are still same too. I know.”
I give her a tight hug, my tears slowly falling on to her shoulder, and hers onto mine. When I leave her, she smiles, pats my cheek and leaves without a word. Silence speaks more than words, and there’s a lot of unsaid love in that hug.
As the car rolls away from the sands, we turn and wave goodbye to the two of them, our family here. Beyond them is that titian sun, slowly and serenely sinking into the sea, as it has every evening I’ve been here. We drive past the temple, to the sound of bells as the deeparadhana puja happens. And we’re on our way back to Kochi again, past the backwaters, the bridges with the elephants, the now dark paddy fields with the clumsy scarecrows and the coconut palms with its leaves swinging in the evening breeze. As we reach the airport, the heavens open up and a cool shower catches us unawares. It’s like our home wants us to have these memories again, to keep close and return soon.
In the flight, I watch Vids sleep. She was also sad to leave the beach and her Sharada velliamma.
“Chechy told me about a dream.”
“Hmmm?” I look at Aarthi, and she’s staring at me seriously.
“Your dream actually, the one you gave up on long back.”
She pushes her phone toward me, and I see a photo there. The photo brings back memories. A summer morning, and a new canvas on a nearly broken easel… I had chosen the perfect spot, to capture the calm blue sea and the coconut palms and an off-white shade for the sky. When I was done, I had called it my masterpiece. I’d waited for it to dry, and then taken it to my amma for showing it off proudly. And she had been. I could see the glint in her eyes as she held the canvas delicately, as if it were a priceless artwork.
“Why don’t you paint again, Nandu? If I’d known you were such a good painter, I’d have pushed you even earlier.”
Why had I given it up? So I could focus all my energy into doing well in something I felt I would hate from the first day. I had hated it, till I met the love of my life. And then, over the years, it had just been buried somewhere so deep, that I had no energy to dig out. It had been years… years since I held a brush, and brought what I saw to life.
“I’ll be asking Mr. Johnson about where to buy the things. As soon as we get home… and no, this is not up for discussion.”
Mr. Johnson is our neighbor in Manchester. He runs a small art gallery, and is a good painter too. I’d always admired his work, but kept a distance from the gallery so I wouldn’t be tempted to pick up the brush.
“Say something, Nandu. I hate talking to myself, you know!” she laughs.
I just look at her and smile, let silence talk and tell her how much I love her. I’m sure it will, because over the years, it always has.
“I’m going to paint, Aari. But not everything will be displayed in a gallery,” I tell her. And in that moment, I take a decision. One that needed no push to make, one that felt like it was a long time coming.
A year has gone by, but it feels like only a minute, since we were at the airport, waiting to board a flight to Bangalore and then to Kochi. But it feels happy to be back again, and waiting to do exactly that. My heart beats quicker than last time. I can feel it, as I hold Vids hand, and it’s saying “Home… Home… Home…” Five thousand miles away, I know Chechy is feeling that same anxiety, waiting for the three of us to reach there.
Nothing has changed. Then again, everything has.
Packed away safely in one of our suitcases is a brown paper bag, and in it, a dream that has come true… a small hardcover book, released by one of the big publishers in the UK.
Inside the book are some of my paintings, ten to be precise. A rhyme follows every painting… the fruits of my efforts over the past ten months.
On its cover, written proudly in white lettering, is my name… “Aanand Menon” and the title… “A Deluge of Dreams”. Oh… and it is a cover that’ll come to life soon, as our car will roll over the sands and to a stop near my wonderful white bungalow. I can never get tired of seeing that sunset, that which I painted first when I took up the brush again.
On its back cover, a poem I wrote.
A dream can never die,
For it stays in your heart;
Painted from your soul,
A beautiful piece of art.
Even if it lies forgotten,
Where even you can’t see,
Someone who loves you,
Will soon set it free.
The sun may sink fast,
Into the sea so deep,
But never is the sun,
For the sea to keep.
So are your desires,
Sunken they may seem,
But they’ll rush back,
In a Deluge of Dreams.
I’d last returned home for a walk through my memories. I now return home after swimming in that deluge of dreams that came true.
Oh my family, my beloved family, I’m returning again, returning home…. home to you!
(14 Dec, 2013)