I was busy making art on the glass window as seething hot blasts of summer confronted conditioned winter-like air, to create the canvas I needed. I didn’t know what else to do. Signs were ominous. Sheet lightning made me nervous, like a forked tongue serpent making its way to its prey.
The sky that day made me skip a beat. I was four or five, and I remember my finger stopping at just about half the circumference of the Sun, the only thing that was left to place in a scene with curly bubble-like trees, spiky grass, strange v-shaped birds and a zigzag river.
I remember that picture very well. For days after, that picture I drew, reimposed itself, till Chandan Kaka, our house help finally, cleaned the glass with a spray.
Things seemed misplaced suddenly that day, like me, who was sitting all ready in her tutu and waiting, with nowhere to go. We were to practice, “Heaven is a place on earth” that day. But, all I wanted to do now was to run away to my room, but fear had me transfixed to my spot near the sill. Why wasn’t Baba here, still?
“Look at my pretty girl!!” I turned around and gave him the widest smile I could.
And just at that very moment, lightening cracked a whip, again…and my eyes bulged with fear.
“Baba, you’re late …and now see…” I had tears in my eyes.
“Where is Mama? Did she dress you up?
“Yes, but she had to go to the clinic, and she said you would come soon. But you didn’t…”
Dad sat next to me, and I gave him my tightest hug as we both looked out of the window…
“That’s a pretty picture!” And I smiled back “I drew it with my fingers!”
“You are Talented!”
I repeated…” TAA LEN TE”
“Don’t forget the d at the end.”
“TAA LEN TED”
“Let’s play a game?”
“Look! Look! here …” Dad pointed to a new game I was just about to learn. A game that we would end up playing on many grey days.
“See this drop of water and this one?”
“See this one, right next to this Sun you were drawing and this one right near the frame…”
“What do you think?
“I think they are about to race, want to pick your favorite?”
“Okay! I like the one next to my Sun; it looks like a jelly bean!”
“Ok, I’ll pick the other one …it’s nice and fat like a hamburger bun!”
“See, its begun the race…watch!”
I remember, cheering vividly for my jelly bean. It was kind of a clumsy drop and a bit of a slowpoke, gathering pace only when it began to “fatten up” towards the end. Dad’s drop won hands down. And I don’t remember feeling too happy about that.
“Hey! don’t worry…you will win the next time.”
“Yes” as we intertwined our pinky’s
“Ok,” and I was suddenly so happy. Dad’s promises were always comforting and reassuring. I was so excited to win the next time that it had already played out in my head. Today did not matter; it was tomorrow that held promise.
Promise, I was soon to realize, was a mouthful of a word -everything and nothing all at once.
Today, it rained like it did decades ago, and I found myself sitting at the window sill.
I was not looking out. I was trying to find Hamburger and Jellybean on the glass. Till I realized they were already racing down my cheeks.