At close to half past four in the morning, the effects of two cups of midnight coffee are wearing off, and I don’t expect my writing to be at its best. However, there is a certain kind of peace that only words can buy, and it is therefore inevitable that even at this late (or early) hour, I should find myself curled up in the smaller of the two sofas, greedily reading one of my library books.
I have spent a night at work, peppering it with generous doses of Angela Brazil’s school stories, Marina Lewycka’s slightly disappointing ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’, and J G Farrell’s marvellous creation, ‘Troubles’. Brazil and Lewycka are light reading, but even with the strain of the night bearing down upon me, I find myself most drawn to ‘Troubles’. I forget that the book is not written in first-person and that I am not the Major, finding himself drawn into the strangely absorbing whirlpool of life at the Majestic in troubled Ireland. The cover is largely blue and green, and the letters of Farrell’s name look like they’ll topple over any moment, just about slotted into place anyhow by a quavering hand. Lugubrious the story might be, but you flit to it like an insect to lamplight, knowing well that it won’t cheer you up- but Farrell’s top-notch writing keeps you pegging away at it, dreading the approach of the end of the book. The frequent references to the English cricket team playing against Australia seem like a coincidence, and a reminder of the fact that while I sleep, England will be trying hard to save face in the third Ashes test this morning.
The ‘tequila shots’ (as Airborne, coffee-drinker-in-crime puts it) of coffee come in small tumblers- we get four for the two of us, the frothy spot of milk sitting topping off the lovely rich brown of the concoction. It isn’t bad coffee, by cafeteria standards, and it keeps us going as we rant, laugh and linger at the table, cigarette smoke mixing with the mists of cool winter nights. The air is rather foggy under the lamplights, and we reminisce about North Indian winters, quite removed from the moderation of where we now live.
I’m home now, and the sky is a murky pink. I have long forgotten my constellations, Orion being the only one I can now recognise. There are no stars here today, though, and no trees nearby- no birds or the soughing of winds through leafy branches. And because blades of grass don’t sing loud enough for me to hear, all is quiet but for the abrupt screeches of distant vehicles braking.
I am entitled to my “Friday evening”, to look forward to the weekend, and this is how I do it.
PS: If there are any glaring mistakes here, do let me know. At half-past four, you don't feel entirely inclined towards editing your own tripe.