Vaaruni ‘Monkey’ Eashwar was one of the first HS students on campus (from the Development Studies batch of 2006). She was a Saarang events core, and also a lead vocalist in the Sharav WM band. This is a creative writing piece she wrote for class.
There she sat. On the white bench beneath the avocado tree. The garden was somewhat reminiscent of Rebecca’s Manderley. Silent tears trickled down her cheeks – she felt lost, yet so very much at home. She had been waiting for this moment… it was a homecoming of sorts. She had eagerly been looking forward to waking up in that house and watching the sunlight stream through the skylights in the gabled roof – even if it was only for a couple of days. But she could not stay there, though it was her own home. Circumstances prevented it. She had just received a call about a change in the schedule of her meetings. She would now have to be at a friend’s place in town, on the tenth floor of a concrete jungle. She had been so excited at the prospect of coming to Bangalore and staying there again; staying at her friend’s place instead would just not compare to the joy of being back home again.
She felt beaten.
She decided to sit on the bench for as long as she could, until she really had to leave for her friend’s place. How she wished it was the good old days again! Back when she and her family still lived in Bangalore, in the beautiful house they had built. They had so many memories, so many wonderful times here.
They had designed their house to look like it was a sixty or seventy year old bungalow, with brick-facing and a tiled, sloping roof. They had a penchant for old architecture and furniture – anything antique. All their furniture was antique and even their flooring was either terracotta or tiles designed and soaked to look old. They had run around from place to place, collected doors and window-glass from sites where old houses had been demolished and from their own ancestral houses. It wasn’t just any house. It was like a part of their soul.
She, her husband and their daughter used to sit on the bench and enjoy a cup of tea and just listen to the sounds of the birds twittering and chirping in the trees… It always felt so peaceful. Like there wasn’t a care in the world. The grass would be dappled with sunlight through the avocado tree and butterflies with gorgeous patterns and colours would flutter by, adding to the charm. Pairs of birds would fly by in a flutter, chasing each other seductively. This was the ideal place to read a book and spend a lazy afternoon. They had also spent many a memorable time around that bench and the garden with friends, chatting and laughing over chilled beer.
When their dogs were alive, the family had great fun watching them playing around in the garden, two dogs with totally opposite personalities and looks. One was small and wily and brown, while the other was big and gullible and black, making them an amusing and entertaining pair.
The conservatory with its many flowering plants and skylights and a silvery great moon on a moonlit night, the large bedroom with the four poster bed, the mezzanine library, the open bathroom with the Jacuzzi bath tub, the Chesterfield sofas and cluttered desk on the upstairs landing, soft music playing in the background, winding its way down the stairwell, the coolth of the house, the last step on the stairs that was just a little bigger than the rest that they often almost tripped on… She smiled. Oh, the memories! How could they ever have moved away from it all?
Sitting there, she felt drained and worn out. Life was so chaotic that there was hardly any time they could call their own, away from the hassles and strain of setting up a new business in a faraway city. But somehow, now, just sitting on that bench, reminiscing, seemed to give her a sense of calm despite the sadness and seemed to lift her spirits and fill her with a sort of will to go on.
And so, she pulled herself up to leave. As she got into the car, her eyes lingered on what she called home, the sky behind aglow with the pink of the setting sun. The house looked so grand, with the trees framing it and the flowering creeper winding its way up all over the walls onto the upstairs verandah. She would try and come back for a while before she left.
On her last day in town, she went back. She couldn’t leave without spending a few more hours there again, in the place where she belonged. She pottered around the garden, pruning and trimming some plants and bushes, in an attempt to make it look less willful and overgrown. Gardening always made her feel happy and peaceful. After a while, she sat back down on the bench and just looked around, taking in everything with a feeling of contentment.
She closed her eyes. Looking back, it all seemed so long ago to her but yet, strangely enough, it felt like just yesterday. When would they be able to come back to this charming home of theirs? When would it be the good old days again? Sure, they did have great times now as well, but being in this house was something special and felt kind of magical, and unforgettable. She wished things would change soon.
She sat there. On that bench beneath the avocado tree. Wondering, wishing, hoping…
Suddenly, there was a loud knock at the gate, startling her out of her reverie. It was the postman, with a letter for her. Who could be sending her a letter there? She took the letter and sat down. There was no sender’s address. Strange. She opened it gently, wondering what it was about. With each line she read, her eyes lit up. She smiled, feeling a warm glow… She quietly folded the letter, kissed it nine times and looked heavenward with a beatific smile. What she saw was the beautiful avocado tree.