I miss listening to conversations. Growing up, my life was filled with it. Especially when we were forced indoors by the rains. I come from a place that receives a heavy amount of rainfall, so my childhood has been punctuated with pauses of rainfall in my playtime.
The rain started off innocently with a pitter-patter on the roof and gradually increased to a crescendo with the sky playing fireworks of lightning and thunder. We could not go out to play on rainy days so I sat at home mostly looking out at the rain. I often traced the raindrops with my finger as it made its way down on the window pane.I also made hearts and wrote my name on the fog that kissed the glass momentarily.
Rains in the idle afternoons were my favorite. Favorite because it coaxed a sleepy afternoon to wake up and be lively. On those afternoons we followed a ritual at our home. A ritual of having hot and crisp pakodas. The elders had it with tea, I had it with milk. Almost always the sound of rain was accompanied by the fizzing of something in the oil pan. Sometimes it was onion pakodas and sometimes cauliflower. The aroma of the fried pakodas hugged the smell of rain and gave birth to the most homely fragrance ever. It is a fragrance that still tugs at my heart.
Cauliflower pakodas were my father’s specialty and every time it rained he would rush to the kitchen and help out with mom. Helping out was just an excuse. But help he did. All he actually wanted to do was to be with her. The sound of the rain was lulled by my parents happy and animated conversation that came from the kitchen. When I ate I marveled at the texture, taste and smell of the crisp balls. I loved the different effect that tomato sauce and hot and sweet sauce had on it. As I ate, while being immersed in my snacks, I listened to real life stories; stories that my parents told, stories that my siblings had with them.
I was never much of a talker.I opened up to only a selected few. But I always listened. I listened when my parents talked. They talked about everything under the sun. They talked about the local and global news. They talked about people. Sometimes they just cracked jokes and laughed. I loved it most when relatives and friends came over because the conversation became even more interesting then. Mostly I did not understand exactly what they spoke about, but I did not need to either. I was happy with just listening to the happy sounds of conversation. It gave me a feeling that all was well in the world.
As I am writing this I am sitting in a café. I see families, I see couples and I see loners. All are out to spend time with each other. Their tables are laden with the choicest of pastries and steaming beverages. The food looks divine and the beverages inviting, but no one sees that. Everyone is eating mechanically with one hand on the food and the other on a screen. Outside the café it is raining, no one notices her beauty. Everyone is glued to a screen. No one is talking. Everyone is too busy to notice life go by and memories remain soulless without their participation in life. I am particularly drawn towards a woman sitting with a man. She keeps on looking at her coffee mug, at the man in front of her and again back at the mug. Her man is busy looking at a screen. She cannot interrupt him because he is immersed in something, nonetheless feeling very left out and lonely at the situation. Looking at her body language, the way she keeps changing her posture, runs her finger on the mug time and again I can also figure out that she is a little conscious at having nothing better to do other than be in the present. There is no one to tell her that she is in fact at the right place.I wondered, why is it that there is always something more important than the person right in front of you, the moment together, the beauty of now.
But who am I to complain? I am here sitting with my laptop. Glued to a screen.
I miss having conversations. I miss the company of people when I am in the now. The present has become a very lonely place without anyone talking, making memories or being with each other. Love has a life of its own and I believe it thrives in conversations, laughter, memories and expression. I wonder where will love live in the future.Where does love live now?
I shut my laptop and looked out at the beautiful rain. I traced the raindrops as they made their way down the cafe glass, hoping that someday there will be a balance in the world. Someday there will be conversations again and there will little girls who grow up listening and feeling the love exchanged between her parents made visible in exchanged expressions. Little girls who would notice the rain, smell her fragrance and play shrieking gleefully under her showers.