I looked at the sky as I walked in the quiet neighbourhood. The sky was clear except for a few creases of clouds near the slice of moon, the dull glow of the moon illumined the furls of clouds – the muted tones of the moon gave a faint and haunting shimmer to the night sky. The night was very similar to the many night skies I had watched as I stood outside my parents’ house.
One particular night I recall, almost thirty years ago, when I stood waiting for my father who got delayed because he was visiting his uncle. I rested my chin on the gate warmed by the afternoon sun, looking at the end of the road that was dimly lit by a sodium vapour lamp. I counted ten and willed my father to materialize at the end of the street, though many tens passed I did not panic at my father’s absence. The night was far too beautiful, the steely beams of the moon touched the coconut leaves, open terraces, windows, and my long eyelashes as they drooped in tranquility.
Each day in my house is a Five Act Play, I joke to my friends. I have not scripted it, am out by Act II, Scene II and reenter in Act IV, Scene V. It is a different play every day and I am the She – Hamlet pondering on the virtues of solitude and seclusion. I wonder if I am in a soliloquy or a monologue, as interestingly I am the only audience as well as the almost absentee protagonist.
My life at times gets crowded as does the home I live. There are times when many relatives visit and to help me manage I have an army of people – cook, domestic help, drivers, care givers – who with great camaraderie share the space I inhabit. As they do their chores and keep a track of what I am doing, where I am going, what my son is up to and when he has come home, they also catch up with each other cheerfully enquiring and exchanging gossips.
I leave my house for work, somewhere in the beginning of Act II, as my cook is chatting with the domestic help and I return back home in the evening, by the end of Act IV, to hear her talk loudly on the mobile phone. Just as I enter, she informs the person on the other end that I have returned. So the person at the other end enters the orbit of our shared existence because my cook begins narrating to me episodes from that person’s life.