Sunday, April 24, 2011

This is a house of variety.

Within its ancient walls flourish trees of hibiscus, mango, guava, jackfruit, lime and bel; the straggling grass growing over the hard brown soil has its monotony broken by violet and white asters and yellow wildflowers. Outside the walls, bordering the narrow road, are tall trees with white boles that spread their arms out to the sky in a welcoming embrace. There is a solitary leafless tree, a dark silhouette against the cheer and yellowness of summer sunshine- it has remained so for a while now, surely it isn't dead?

Birds abound; why, you can even spot the lone woodpecker tapping busily on a bark, blissfully lost to the world. Koels call out to one another with cheerful regularity- call and answer- with chirrupping dun-coloured birds hopping across the bed of leaves on the ground adding to the chorus. The backyard is occasionally brightened by a flash of colour; a flock of parrots alighting for a grub, before flying off together to perch on the upper branches of the trees outside.

At times, it isn't difficult to imagine that if I turned around, I would find the house actually perched on a ledge overlooking a verdant valley, watered by a sinuous blue ribbon- and behind me, a looming mountain face, brown and hard but gentle, its slope generously sprinkled with Alpine vegetation. We are about ten hours away from Siliguri and the Himalayas- in winter, icy winds blow through this little town. Now, in these months of heat, clouds creep up quietly (even as we sing the raaga Amritavarshini, hoping to add our prayers) and gather in grey masses tinged with the pearly luminosity of sunset. There is a bit of lightning, a spot of thunder, followed by perhaps a drizzle or two, and just sometimes, a very heavy downpour, sending trees crashing down upon the roads and strewing leaves liberally on parked cars and brave pedestrians. You can see, then, that I'm not too far from a delicious scary story setting either, not in this rambling old house with its blue doors and years of history.

The stock of books laid by for the long summer is being actively dipped into- but because it grows at a faster pace, I do not despair of being left without reading material. Reading The Woman In White has rekindled my romance with thick, winding family intrigues, and I look forward to The Forsyte Saga.

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