Friday, April 11, 2008

Flash Fiction - III

I put the date on the document I am writing and stare at the word “April”. I look out of the window over a flat dry land, dotted with tall ugly buildings. Smaller buildings – houses – are colourful, as if to break the monotony of the brown landscape. Others are big and imposing, in different shapes and constructed entirely (or so it seems to me) of green or blue glass. If I walk out of the comforting environs of the AC, I know the air will be hot and dry too, and the sun will beat down harshly. Is this April?

I have only been in Gurgaon for a few months. All my life before that I lived in Assam. Have you ever been there? Picture lush green fields rolling into the distance, flanked by darker green hills. In the morning, you can see a veil of mist on the hills. There is a river overflowing its banks, rushing madly down its canal. Look at those flaming trees: the yellow and red blossoms overwhelm the green leaves. In the distance, storm clouds gather. If you listen intently, you can hear, faintly, the roll of a drum.

That is the April I had known. That is the April of my Assam, when we all dress up in our homely best and visit each other’s houses. Where we young people practise our music and dance ahead of the Bihu festival, and become drunk with joy and the fragrance of flowers. Where we celebrate whatever little we have, celebrate that we are alive and have family and friends with us.

But I am not in Assam now. I am here, earning more money than I had dreamed and going home to an empty house. But back there, they must be preparing for Bihu. I will send more money than usual this month, for my sisters to buy new clothes. Maybe Ma will send me pitha
[1]. She must have started grinding the rice now, and will be thinking of me, wiping away tears as she remembers how much I love the til[2] pitha that she makes so well.

But here, April is just a word on a calendar, a word I write on a report to mark when it was completed.

[1] cakes made of ground rice
[2] sesame


Rada said...

I think I know the feeling..

Working in Mumbai, I used to think about the lush-green landscape of Kerala all the time.

Few years ago, I visited Assam for the first time and was surprised by the similarities in landscapes..

Gurgaon! Ugh! :-)

Unmana said...

Indeed. I have heard much too, about the similarities in landscape. I haven't had the chance to see for myself yet.

Polka said...

Well written , made me nostalgic..the crisp "boga pitha" with coconut fillings still remains my favourite..i normally used to get packets full of boga pithas sent by mom in the hands of some friends or the time it reaches pune normally what remains is a white sweet powder , closer to 'amulspray'than my dear " narikol pitha!"

Unmana said...

Thanks. My mom sends pithas in January, for Magh Bihu, and in the big box I get I have to fish out the two or three edible ones. But she still insists on sending them... Pithas are best hot off the stove, late at night when Ma sits up making them!