Friday, July 14, 2017

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon; the sort of afternoon that’s hard to come by these days. It’s also warm, which makes it rarer still. The weather, blackout curtains, and a fan whirring at just the right speed, all make for a heady cocktail. I lie in bed and pretend that the flashing ‘pending’ signs in my head are little mosquitoes and I run around zapping them with one of those electric zappers. They don’t really die, of course, but it’s still a fun exercise. Sort of… 

At some point, the weather outside changes. It’s still warm, but there’s just a bit more stickiness in the air despite the breeze. Someone from a nearby house calls out to their neighbour in Malayalam (despite mobile phones, there’s nothing quite like have a conversation through the window). A scooter of some description is coming down our street, I track its progress by the sound of the engine. The rider honks the horn to announce his identity in advance: it’s the unmistakable sound of the mobile fisherman. If it’s a good catch, that means most likely fried fish for dinner. I can picture it now, golden brown with a dash of lemon and some fresh red onion rings. I marvel at my own capacity to get excited by the smallest things. But then again, fried fish is no small matter. 

On a tree somewhere, a crow appears to caw at nothing in particular. The curtains are still drawn, but the heat seeps in through every crevice, and tiny droplets of sweat seem to form on my arms in the time it takes for the table fan to swing towards the window and back at me. Somewhere else, a cow appears to moo at nothing in particular. Or maybe it is directed at the crow who decided to shift its perch from the tree to the cow. Crows are like that sometimes. 

In a couple of hours, it will be tea-time and I’ll be sitting on the porch, blowing into my tea while munching on jackfruit chips and banana fritters and all kinds of other magical, sumptuous things. The air would have cooled down a bit by then, and there’ll be the faintest scent of impending rain. My eyelids get a little heavier. Despite the buzzing pending mosquitoes (this imaginary swatter must be defective), I decide to give in and drift off into sun-kissed slumber…. 

When I wake up, my son is trying to clamber over my stomach. I blow into his face and he smiles. His smile has the dazzling quality of a thousand suns. His big eyes seem to look at the world with such hope and optimism, such fierce kindness, it’s almost heartbreaking. Which is not to say it induces sadness; more like a profound sense of gratitude. Such moments are always a reminder of how precious and fleeting life is: a realisation which seems to always be accompanied by a hint of melancholy. 

I lift him to on my stomach and for a few seconds he regards me with the same fascination with which I regard him. And then with another giggle he slides off again; after a brief interlude he is ready to resume his journey through the universe. I close my eyes and listen to his babbling. Outside, the sun sinks slowly into the canals. It’s late evening, the time when the whole of Amsterdam - beautiful, charming little Amsterdam- appears to pose for all the waiting cameras. 

Sometimes dreams seem to offer a glimpse into another reality. At other times, reality itself seems like a dream.

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