I love quiet nights. More so because it reminds me of a place called home.
I have grown up in the beautiful Tea Estates of Assam.Growing up there it was natural for me to lie in bed and listen to the stillness of the night being broken by the crickets’ incessant songs and the frogs’ seemingly bored croak. Very often I heard wild ducks make their way home. They spoke to each other as they flew across our house. Their cry of joy as they flew homeward on a late night starlit sky made me feel lonely and at the same time privileged to be inside my home. This natural rhythm was broken at times by the homeward bound tea estate labourers’ conversations. Sometimes a moment of the night became emotionally charged by the Bollywood songs that they sang while passing by our bungalow.The night took on the emotion of the singer – lovelorn, merry or just happy – and held on to that emotion till the song hung in the air and faded away at the distance.The song of course continued with the singer. The night watchman’s thwack of the stick gave a steady rhythm to these beats of the night.
On wintry nights, the orange light of the heater filled the bedroom with warmth and a feeling of extreme cosines. Nights in winters were quieter, but Assam is a place where the advent of winters see many festivities. Durga Puja, Diwali, New Years Eve and Bihu to name a few. On these nights of festivities the quiet of the night is broken by the distant music that is always played in the fairs that stand next to each puja pandal; sometimes winter nights were broken by the late night merry makers in Diwali. New years eve and Bihu had the night resonating with music and the sound of merry making from the neighborhood homes till hours past midnight.Talking about festivities I remember during the month of Ramzan there was this aroma of luscious food that emanated from the nurse’s quarter before day broke. Hers was the only Muslim family at the estate. She had her quarter just another quarter away from our bungalow. These were happy sounds and smells and falling asleep hearing them always was a privilege. The best part of it was that it always came from a distance. Melodious and soft.Like a lullaby.
Very recently in a far flung place, much farther from what I call home, I found an experience that felt just like home. I was in a hotel room. Comfortable after a hot shower I was preparing for a night of much needed rest. I switched off the light leaving just one lampshade on. As I snuggled with the pillow I observed that the room shone with a cosy orange hue. It instantly struck a long forgotten cord in my heart. Very gradually, as gradual as falling rain, I heard music resonating in the night air. There was this fountain show that is held every night in the Republic Square ( This is where we stayed). The music knocked softly on our window and came in with the soulful tones of the song ‘desert rose’. Desert Rose – this has been a school time favorite song of mine. The distant music, the orange hued room and a favorite number transported me to home.A home that had existed in the past. A home that I have left years ago.
Ever since I left home I have always longed to go back to it. But I could never feel at home anywhere. I had often felt empty and restless at the situation.
I found home when once I held someone’s hands. Needless to say I never left that hand and do not intend to in this life. Home to me is the smell of my father’s cologne. It is also the distinct smell of wood smoke on a cold winter night. Home is many things to me and it is also an orange hued room and a night that reverberates with a long forgotten favorite song. Ever since this experience at the hotel I realized that home is not a place, it is a feeling. It is a person. It is a fragrance. It is an experience of the heart that one can never lose. I have ever since stopped missing home and needless to say found my peace of mind back.