Wednesday, 22 April 2009
I drove out of my h (OM) e and it took just under thirty minutes to bring me to the city of my birth and my life changed. If this line sounds familiar, it’s because you and I have read the mesmerizing opening lines of Orhan Pamuk’s novel, ‘The New Life’, which runs like this – I read a book one day and it changed my life.
I am happy I took the decision to drive out.
It is not as easy as it sounds. I mean if you were to shift your residence to a place just half an hour’s drive away, life would not change. It would surely have to be a miracle in motion. But the theater and the drama behind the shifting and a tiny slice of juxtaposed past would explain to you what you would otherwise not comprehend.
I was born here in Kannur, the northernmost tip of ‘God’s Own Country’, but we grew up in Delhi. Now New Delhi is not what it used to be. It is a buzzing Metro and the capital of India. Kannur is also not what it used to be. It is a city on the rise. Even then you would doubt about where the punch lies. The punch line is that I lived in a sprawling village since my marriage to the day I drove out. As you know, a city is a mindset, but so is a village. If you go down to the brass tacks, all modern amenities that a city dweller enjoys can also be found in a village. And without sounding too much of a braggart, you may safely assume that there are no real villages in Kerala, at least not the kind you would visualize in a Third World country. Now, physical reality is altogether different from emotional as well as rational reality. And this is where the crux of the matter lies. A village is a village because it has a parochial DNA cored on its brain map, which cannot be erased even after the Time Machine has dropped us on Mars and back.
That is the difference that changes lives in just under thirty minutes.
Ensconed here in the seventh storey apartment I find that some coconut trees have grown to this level and that is pleasant information, since all coconut pluckers are in great demand as they have all fled to Dubai. But what has surprised me is the sea level. As I see it, the sea stands much higher than the windows of my apartment, perhaps at the eighth floor level. At times I wonder too why the sea does not come toppling down over the beach and the roads and the coconut trees. Of course, that would be termed the tsunami. We experienced a mild tsunami two years back on a full moon day and it had created havoc in our neighboring state. So tsunami is out of question.
The rooms are sunny and windy and if any of you are interested, I can give you dollops of both these items in a carry bag, free of cost. Like happiness, wind and the sun can only increase, not decrease.
My paintings too feel happy. The painted boat on a painted sea is reveling at its safety away from the turbulence of the sea. Shekure faces the sea and she does a thud thud against the wall, though she still looks haughty. Some are like that. Ruya is serene and as usual gives me immense happiness and an unusual camaraderie, mavericks that we are. Maria Sharapova has pride of place and enjoys her exalted status. Still life of fruits and one of vegetables look well entrenched. Tiger burns only at nights. I might as well gift it to the Society for preserving tigers. They are fast fading from the face of this planet.
Earlier I looked up at every Tom Dick and Harry – shall we change those names – Mohamed Prashant and Sajan, but now I can afford to look down on them. From this height, men look like squirrels scurrying past. (The names are chosen randomly though there is a design in the madness, all three are from different religions.) If the left over ones feel the pinch, they are free to lodge a complaint at Lekha.com. Yes, she is my younger sis and all of five feet eight inches and when she walks majestically in her heels, she looks supremely confident. So now you have to queue up at her door for a pass.
The pix above was clicked by my classmate Pravin Madhavan when he landed up at OM last year.