Shades of Home

by Mir Umar

It is third time, probably fourth, when I am thrown out of sleep. ‘No, that time I had just winked my eyes.’ I am not able to sleep peacefully from last few days. Demons follow me in my sleep, devouring me in state of horror. Terrified. Those insomniac demons are merciless. ‘Mercy-Less’, really. When I try to sleep, it’s something that holds me aback, making my eyes wide open like a door.

My bulged eyes look on the poorly plastered, empty walls of the room. A window is held between the two consecutive walls, making it a line of demarcation. The ceiling is beautiful as the two fishes are drawn corresponding to each other as if they are chasing each other and in the centre, runs a fan, slaughtering air with its aisled blades.

My head starts aching when I observe some lingering shadows formed on the front wall, getting bigger even coming nearer with each breath that I inhale and then they disappear, slowly like drifting darkness. There is even a lamp hanging in the corridor outside, blithing empty corridor with its sleeking orange light. It kills emptiness to some extent. It’s light enter my room through another window, above my head where I am lying, through iron grills. The light illuminates some of the irregular frames, (that’s what I call them ) that invites my stare to look on them.

On the right side of the wall, hangs the mirror on the iron nail and a comb put on top of it. Every morning I have to kneel my headdown to look into it. It has been put there by one of my roommates, though they thought it to look regular. My t-shirt hangs on a new hanger, found by me, on very first day of shifting my room. It’s small a cartoon drawn on it makes me to look on it everyday. It’s also strong, of which I had never thought, because it doesn’t let my t-shirt to drop, even when the door is smashed against it. It has been put there by previously living tenants. A good job they have done. They might have forgotto carry it with them. It has survived both, the stares and smashes. Often, a human can be brought down by these two things.

It’s night still. No wall clock hanging here. Back home, I had a beautiful wall clock hanging in my room. It’s second hand would always trickle with each trembling step of sun and moon. There are piles of books lying alongside. They had been randomly arranged. Indian Literature held in a war with European Literature, Homer suppressing Kalidasa, Aristotle in mutual contact with Sophocles and Orwell aloof from this, seeing this illusive war of literatures. I took Homer’s epic and began to read it. To persecute time, reading is an adventurous thing. I flipped its first few pages and began to read. Light is devouring between its verses, words.

Why my heart throbs so passionately as it did never before? For what I am longing evocatively? These questions again forced my mind to stop reading. So,I just stopped, rested my head against the wall and closed my eyes.

As if, it was the last time, biding adieu to those snow clad mountains shining in full gleam between night and day, under the blazing light of sun and shivering light of moon. Those mountains are a distant dream now! The last time I had seen those jewelled mountains was from my window, when less intense altered light embraced them with its cloaks of colours. The sunlight had died there on the white snow like a lover mad for his beloved. No prints of murder there and no mark of murderer.

The rivers there, carry a magical bounty. Their fresh waters, cold with frozen ice of mountains, come to kiss barren fields of plains. ‘Love doesn’t care of distance’, I had been listening since. What could be best example other than this. These waters come all along from the vertiginous Himalayas and reach plains, facing many obstacles on its way and reach us with a new hope and life. Streams there look stupendous when they flow under the shades of trees and above moist skin of pebbles. The fun is when we would walk bare footed on the cold waters of streams and its water would shiver us, making our soul to drip down into our legs and we would feel that shivering.

How can I forget those blissful evenings spend in the meadows of the town. Those winds would encompass us, rattle the branches of trees, gathering their hidden beats of music from rustling leaves, and sing ballads which would pacify my soul from the desolation. I would every evening sit on the top of the hill and see the embellishing dexterity of the town. How beautifully the houses have been built, high over the slopes, near orchards and fields, I would think. People too would be in rush there on the hill side to seek peace, a partial detachment from the world, their homes and of course- their loved ones too.

People there in (Kashmir), nowadays would be busy in their paddy fields, orchards and kitchen gardens. ‘Harvesting is a tough job’, said one of my roommate while remembering his days of hard work that he had done in fields. Though we don’t owe a paddy field but we owe a kitchen garden. A beautiful one, diverse in vegetables that we grow there mostly green vegetables and well maintained under special chairmanship of my mother. She maintains it with full determination and treats it like her another ‘Son’. It would hurt her, if we would intentionally or mistakenly trample plants in kitchen garden. She looks after it, every morning and evening. I remember how she would slightly grab the leafy petals of ‘Haakh’ under the swarming rays of sun falling on her, illuminating her sunken hands. She works tirelessly in kitchen garden to make it look more splendid. And if she gets time in day too, she would spend there for she has an emotional attachment with it. I also remember those cuisines made by her from fresh vegetables taken from our kitchen garden. I miss their taste too. Not only mothers work made kitchen garden a marvellous venture but also the workings of my father, often on evenings and holidays. I remember seeing sweat drifting down from his forehead. After enormous work, he would had had a peaceful sleep. Though kitchen garden remains aloof from my sight, I still remember it.

The day of leaving my home for studies was finally on the door steps. It was last moment when I was there, in my Home. After that it would be a new life with new experiences and in a new place,full of strangers. I was happy and a bit nervous too. Even I staunched myself from saying a final good-bye to the old man of our town, ‘who still remembers me’, my father says, for he would always bless me with his blessings every timeI would fall in his way. And that bread maker, whose jokes, I can’t forget, would make me laugh to highest pitch.

It’s some noise of the conversation that followed in and sudden phosphene in eyes that woke me up from a brief nap. It’s noise of tenants living next to us. The Iliad was still there in my lap. I was unable to read it further. Failed. It felt as if their conversation was accompanying in my sleep. It evoked angriness. “When I would stop dreaming in short naps?”. It’s a question that I keep asking myself.

Night still. I moved outside to inhale some fresh air. No sign of life in corridor. Only puffs of emptiness in the air. Starless sky stretched across the parapets of the city. City lights glittering like wedding lights. Winds absent. In the mystic darkness of midnight, the shades of home were gleaming in full splendour.

Mir Umar studies English literature at the University of Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here