How can I, who have seen so many summers, sunsets and sunrises, laughter and tears pick one memory from my kaleidoscopic life to write about? I pick one and the kaleidoscope turns bringing together different shards of glass, creating a new memory altogether, not the one I first sat down to write about. But I must hold this magical mutability still or else it will all break down and like this “too solid flesh may melt and thaw and resolve itself into a dew.”
So, abandoning Mr. Shakespeare, I address this daunting task of sifting through a life of chaff to find some seeds to share, to plant and hopefully to grow. Forgive me, if every now and then the kaleidoscope takes over and we go haring off down a path an uncooperative neuron may choose to chase because a word, a change in the light, or a forgotten taste awakens yet another memory.
Well then, here goes: Me sitting with a freshly sharpened pencil in my hands, a clean half white half red eraser on the table next to me and in front of me the empty, open page of my exercise book. The task – homework. Fortunately for me, it’s English homework and the pleasant assignment is to describe a rainy day. Now, I love the rain. Not an insipid drizzle but a good thundering monsoon rain. Angry black clouds clashing their heavenly cymbals with a chorus of smaller kettledrums setting up a regular percussion, interspersed with brilliant flashes of lightning. But this is April in Delhi, north India where the heat is setting up a practice run for some serious scorching yet to come in May and June. So it’s pretty hard to get in the mood to describe a rainy day. At the time I was eleven years old and didn’t have as many memories as I do today to draw on. So, in order to recreate the image I set my chin on my hands to imagine this wonderful scene.
I close my eyes and picture the coming of the storm. In my mind’s eye I can feel the little wisps of wind as they carry the message to the tops of the trees. Next I see the gradual darkening of the sky, the strange other-worldly light that portends this grand theatre of the heavens. I can actually see that first enormous flash of lightning as it rips the curtain of clouds with its brilliant white sword to announce the arrival in all its majesty and God-like grandeur, the hero of the show: Thunder. I can almost hear this amazing loud noise and in the sweltering heat of an April afternoon in Delhi I shiver until I actually feel a resounding clap on my back. This is all too real and I shake my head as I awaken from this daydream.
What greets me is some real thunder. My mother, who at that moment appeared to me as a screaming banshee. Wild eyes. Flaming tongue. “You’ve been sitting here for half an hour supposedly doing your homework and you haven’t written a word!”
I look down and sure enough, there it is, that pristine sheet of paper in my exercise book, untouched, unmarked. It is then that the page shows its first few drops of rain – my tears.