Flowers in her hair

Less than 24 hours back from India and the phased return has commenced.

I see-saw between unpacking my belongings, a mark of making moves to return to this world, versus sitting in complete stillness, just to keep it seeped inside me just that little bit longer.

As I prepare myself to get ready and venture out for groceries, a whiff of Jasmine catches my mind. A memory.  A feeling.  It doesn’t want squeezed out just yet.

In Kerala, Jasmine flowers are traditionally worn at weddings.  In fact, they can be worn at any time, but a wedding is not a wedding without Jasmine flowers.

It has been said that if u want to be the part, you need to dress the part.

We can all relate to this.  That crucial job interview, the difference between making it to the gym and not making it to the gym.  Every actor will understand how their costume helps create their character, helps enhance it and bring it out.

My aunt in Dubai, on my return leg, had a field day with all the outfits and jewellery I had purchased in India.  She was so excited in fact, that she proceeded to dress me up in various saris and gold or diamond sets.  It seems a bit crazy, but it’s no less crazier than returning from a good shopping haul and parading it for your friends.  

I think she had fun dressing me up in her typical Kerala saris made of Mysore silk and chiffon and cotton.  Changing my hair to suit the style.  Even I could have fooled myself.  Even I thought I looked like a typical Kerala girl.  I know I certainly felt it.

And now I do the reverse, music, songs, clothes all switched to their western counterparts.  Unpacking at a pace that my mind accepts.  Phasing back.

I have learnt, that family always forgives.  That love has no distance.  Or time.  That we cannot forget who we are.  That places do not complete us, but people do.  That blood can be thicker than water.  But water can also be turned to blood.  That language can bring people closer, or make others feel far apart.  That no effort will ever be unrewarded.  That you cannot put a price on a memory, or a life experience.  That there is nothing more important than family, no matter how much they drive you absolutely barking mad.  That some friendships will never die.  That Jasmine flowers have a memory of their own.  That anklets have tiny bells, sounding your return.  That silence is the absence of the fan, or the vacancy of the fish monger’s horn sounding his arrival.  Come quick or it will be gone.  That cars can kiss and still remain unscathed.  That dogs will scavenge and savage yet still roam free.  That goats have many kids.  That parrots have only one life.  That spiders have no boundaries.  That cockroaches will always survive.  That no amount of cold showers can cool the boiling of your blood.  That romance exists in the most unusual of places.  That ultimately all they want is what you want, but it is too hard for anyone to say it.

In the end, hunger prevails.  The call for food lures me from my cave.

I turn, and the memory, gentle and fragile as the scent of Jasmine, disappears.


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