Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fifty days of solitude

I was packing my stuff yesterday, when Sandip called. After a 50-day forced vacation, I was going back to my three-year-old routine. “Hmm, so your 50 days of solitude is over, eh,” he asked. “Aliya,” I said. “You just gave me the perfect headline for a long-pending desire to write something on my stay.”

Except for my cousin’s marriage and the associated short trips, everything was pretty much the same: liquid diet, TV and visitors. And the toughest part was the third. When they come to see me, my mother promptly inform them that I am not in a position to either speak properly or eat any solid food. Even then, they wouldn’t avoid the mandatory question, “How did this happen?” Everybody wants to know from my mouth, which I couldn’t open at all. I would try to mutter something, accompanied by my gestures, and they would promptly reply in sign language to keep quiet! Funny, they ask me to speak, and when I start, they gesture to stop instead of saying!

Brushing my teeth was another problem. I could manage to clean the outer portion of my teeth. For the inside, I had to use a mouthwash that tasted horrible. Food, strictly liquid, was once in two hours: mostly milk, juice or rice porridge.

Speaking problem had limited my movements outside home. After four long weeks, my parents allowed me two days out. It was my cousin's marriage. There also, I had to go frequently to get my cup of juice. Of course, all my relatives there came and asked about my condition. My parents and the doctor wanted me to be quiet, but I ended up describing my fall to every other person. The worst part was when they finished the feast and asked me "Did you have lunch?" and the quick "Oh, sorry!"

Meanwhile, I also managed to find a few hours to brush up my driving skills. Yes, it was tough convincing my parents, especially my father, who wouldn’t give even his bicycle to me. They were also worried over the deaths and mishaps that continued to occur in our social circle. After a few days, came the Utsavam.

For the past seven years, my Utsavam started with a slow walk with my ailing grandfather to the temple ground, where he would happily see all the festivities. I would escort him back home and roam around till midnight, till ‘Aaraattu’. This time, I did not feel like even stepping out of my house. I lay lazily that evening, flipping the channels. By nine, I had a change of mind. I loaded my camera and went out. I could not miss the ‘Aaraattu’. But my closed mouth kept away the most important part of the festival from me: sugarcane!

All these days, I had a wish to go and see the famous lighthouse in Kollam, but could not. Something or the other used to come up everyday to alter my plan. But I finally managed to go there, on the eve of my departure. A bird’s-eye view of my town, the sea and the new port was simply superb.

My grandfather was my granny’s only company during daytime. Indu would be at the college and my parents would be at their respective workplaces. After his death, I was there, bound to my house due to the injury. Not anymore. I was leaving, after 50 days with her. I was feeling kind of uneasy. Then, Sreeraj came. We had a chat, and he suddenly came up with the idea of a last-minute game of business, the Indian version of Monopoly. We were re-living our school days, and it lifted my mood greatly. I could happily board the bus.

There was still fog when the bus stopped at Madiwala this morning. But Tony warned me that the days are hot, hotter than even the ever-sweating Chennai. Took some time to tidy up my cabin and settle down. Here I am, in my office, still waiting for that proper bite. Back to boring Bangalore days, back to my boring routine. One thing is for sure. Unless there is an emergency, I’ll have to wait much longer for my next trip back home.

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