A difficult transition

Nostalgia overpowers me as I think of the open space in front of our independent house where we took frequent walks.

Walks that were interjected by the rustle of trees and the twitter of birds.

Walks that were undisturbed by the erratic honks and noise of vehicles belonging to the owners of the neighbouring flats. Relaxing on the stone bench with its halo of memories – that heady fragrance of the blooming mallige (jasmine) buds, the picturesque parijata flowers, the fragrant champak tree, the divine presence of fragile tulasi, and the special aroma of our beloved karibevu (curry leaves)…

The very remembrance of karibevu brings a lump into my throat, for I had watched the young sapling grow and enliven the taste buds of all those around our house; it was a ‘must’ in my sambar.

But now, age, distance and the spiraling cost, is making it difficult for us to procure even a sprig from the nearby market.

The other tree I miss the most is the bevu (margosa tree) – an effective antidote for many maladies and hence forever in demand.

Today, I have a tough time getting some for the traditional ‘bevu-bella’ (neem-jaggery mix) during Yugadi!

I am reminded of those mornings intoxicated by the tang of sprouting lemons, the heady smell of the ripe jackfruits assailing the nostrils of all passers-by... “How much I miss you!” I mutter as their images float before me.

“Was it that inevitable,” I ask myself, “to lose them all for the sake of apartments?”  
The loss of the two  succulent  coconut  trees in the process, stings me too. In those days, no visitor went away empty-handed.

Even the Gods were satiated with our coconut offerings. But now, I shudder to think of the coconut price in the market, and perforce forego it in my cooking and pujas.

The biggest loss is the  vast open space for our clothesline. Now  the clothes drape our balcony.

Alas, the adage ‘old is gold’ did not stand true in our case. Our house of nearly a century began showing pangs of decay.

When all efforts of repair failed, giving it over to the builders became inevitable. The imminent change in the scenario began with the departure of the lovely, petite sparrows who had nestled in the house from the days of my ancestors and had brightened it with their chirps and cheery flapping.

But, there were some plus points, too, in moving to a flat. Everything was compact with no junk tucked away like my earlier house.

“You were lonely in the big bungalow – two old people – now you will find company, since there will be immediate neighbours,” the builder had ensured us, as a sort of a bait.

But with everyone busy, we rarely meet them except while in lifts or on stairs. At least we hear voices – genuine voices.

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