Dimitri likes to brew his own tea every morning. He politely declines any offer from anyone else to prepare his tea, citing a preference for a distinct taste that he is accustomed to, one which he alone can brew. He fixes it- water on the boil, a spoonful sugar, a spoonful of tea leaves, a dash of milk. He strains the concoction in a cup, opens a cabinet and produces a tiny ornamental box. Lifting the ornate lid, he dips his thumb and forefinger into the case, takes a pinch of a secret ingredient and sprinkles it over the piping hot tea. The first sip, over a steamy haze, singes the tip of his tongue, rolls backwards hitting the roof of the mouth, and crashes at the rear of the throat like a waterfall. Piping hot steam with gold and purple hues rises from the cup, shuddering momentarily before settling onto his eyelids as condensed droplets, just like a bird that brakes its flight to swoop down on an overhanging branch and ruffles its feathers before perching motionless. The drops on each of the lids begin to draw closer, merging together into one before gently sliding into his eyes, forming a misty film. He walks inside the mist, finding himself in the middle of a thick pine forest, the trees deep green and far larger than he has ever seen. Soaking in fresh rain-washed air, the forest snuggles under a quilt of a soft white cloud. A flock of larks hover above his head, singing melodiously even as they fly, unlike other birds who sing only when perched. As he reaches out to touch their magnificence, they scatter upon him a puff of silver dust, at once taking the shape of a Laughingthrush, instantly flying away, their characteristic laughing calls reverberating through the woods. Dimitri peers into the cup; the empty bottom stares back blankly. Continue reading “The Morning Ritual”
At St. Paul’s historic books library, rows and rows of books, yellowed with age, wait patiently.
Brushing aside a spider web woven loosely around, she pulls out a tattered hardbound book with faded gold lettering. As she opens the book and flips through the pages, a scent drifts through- warm and musty, like the inside of an attic. This one is different, she notes, from the one she gets from the books at town hall library which hosts more recent literature; perhaps it has something to do with the process of acid sizing in printing during early 19th century. Continue reading “Of Books & Memoirs”
At the crack of dawn Mrs Holloway begins her day, pottering about the kitchen, brewing fresh tea for her husband of five decades. This morning, the first sip of tea has a special
zing—special, not so much because she has added to it a dash of her homegrown window-sill ginger, but more because it is accompanied by soulful music. And the source? A new device sitting on the kitchen sideboard- a gift from her daughter. What is most endearing is that it looks exactly like the good old transistor she’d grown up with-wood around the outside with those now-archaic circular dials and speaker-albeit with a trendy digital makeover. The device is pre-loaded with a strong repository of retro songs in random order. The songs play in a different sequence each time she plays the device, recreating the old magic of listening to radio that came with a surprise element. Continue reading “The Music”
Photo “Isabel Nao
She joins him on Blake’s Peak in the late afternoon, just as the sun begins its descent. Her face isn’t remarkable in the conventional sense; her nose, eyes mouth, seem like unrelated pieces in a jigsaw puzzle wrongly placed near each other. But there is something else about her, he can’t quite put a finger to. The search ends the instant he looks into her eyes. She smiles, not with her lips; it’s her eyes that smile instead, beguiling him into a calm undercurrent… like the eye of a hurricane, around which spins a storm. He turns away quickly, as if to inspect his camera. He is here to take her portrait pictures. He would do just that, and probably never see her again, he tells himself. Sitting under the warm autumn sun, atop the mountain, they talk- about her life, her passions. It helps him bring out the subject’s true spirit, make her real. It is only when the yellow ball of fire changes to hues of orange and then tangerine, merging with the sky like juice mix in a glass of water, that they realise there is little time left for the mountain portrait shoot that they had come for. They make a dash for a spot. She turns to the expanse of highland facing her. “Just think of who you really are” he shouts out. Something comes over her, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Her back straightens, her head tilts high. A gust of wind catches her auburn hair. She raises an arm to hold it back, as if adjusting an invisible crown, a faraway look in her eyes. He sets a wide aperture to capture a shallow depth of field, so the background behind his subject is nicely blurred, making her stand out better. As he looks through his lens, amazed at the transformation – the real Diane unravels, shot by shot, defiantly flaunting her own essence amidst the dwarfing mountains.
It is Sunday afternoon.
They are spring cleaning the closet, sorting through clothes, getting rid of clutter. The mild summer breeze from the window is a welcome relief from the relentless blaze of brilliant amber in the sky. The breeze ruffles few long, elegant strands of hair hanging loose over her face. Floaters, he would call them, years ago, at their rendezvous every evening and they would laugh, their eyes shining with the light of new love. He wants to brush them aside but restrains himself as she lifts her hand to keep them at bay. He thinks she looks as beautiful as the first time when they met at a Foo Fighters concert; older yes, but beautiful. Continue reading “New Meanings”