Canticum Solaris

~~~

Thank you to everyone who made this day memorable! I had a wonderful day despite the controls exam and despite my vow not to celebrate this year. I am still mourning the loss of a brilliant man and had decided to abstain from merrymaking until Christmas.

New clothes from my family. My mother has sent a beautiful frock (which I dare not wear unless I am in virtuous company due to the dangerous fact that it slips off my shoulders). I also got a brilliant forest-green frock (chosen by my mother and endorsed by my brother and father) which I wore today. Have a pocketful of compliments too! It made my day. I love forest-green. Also, they have sent me coconut-milk powder, which constitutes the core of my culinary adventures these days. And chocolates! Five Stars (the best part of my childhood) and rich, bitter chocolate (which woos me to its boudoir every time it is around).

DP gave me a ticket to Itzhak Perlman’s concert scheduled in April next year. I look forward to attending that. It is going to be the experience of a lifetime!

Sibelius took me out on Friday night for the Firebird concert at Atlanta Symphony. Mozart, Stravinsky and Pintscher’s Osiris all made it memorable. The violin solo was beautiful. My concert partner also treated me to excellent food and wine, made all the more appetising due to the company I was in.

Made it to church too this morning.

I also have an important reunion. Something I have been looking forward to for quite some time now! It deserves a post all of its own. So I will save the story for later.

A group of friends from college surprised me at the stroke of midnight when I was sitting down to my Controls preparation. It was nice. Our China Girl‘s room-mate was there and thank God for that. She was a  bright beacon of decorum in that group. Harish, as ever, was obsessed with what made women tick. I had the chance to finally meet someone everyone here talks about all the time. A very pleasant gentleman. Kautilya was in a good mood. Tushar was Tushar, though sans the Georgia Tech wardrobe he usually favours. There were coffee-flavoured chocolates, thanks to Kautilya. I loved them. I hope I have the restraint required to leave some for G when she gets back from her travels. The cake-smearing still baffles me as badly as it used to in my undergrad days!

Mike, whose flat is still in the pre-historic era, and his sister, who is organised to the point of giving a grad student headache, have given me a lovely present. I am not one for jewelry in general, but I truly cherish the gift. Amethysts seem to be the theme of my life.

My previous Nano partner, who celebrated his marriage to his long-time partner recently, has also sent a lovely gift which will keep me warm. It was a surprise, but it is a surprise I am very glad to be on the receiving end of.

Had excellent Kimchi thanks to my Korean friend. She said she wanted to take me out for a proper dinner, but then relented and made me the only dish I eat merrily without prompting and coaxing. Enjoyed the eve with tiramisu, a friend and fine wine. My parents felt I was so out of it that both of them warily told me not to fall asleep during the exam after the indulgence.

Ex-project mate has also sent something very useful, though the joy was marred by her very harsh email about my silliness and procrastination. I am sure she will be the death of me before she will be the death of her husband. We are both her poor, poor victims.

Also, thank you to everyone who gave me gift cards for Amazon. My library certainly could use some additions!

Thank you to everyone who phoned me this week. And to everyone who emailed me. Uprooted as I am from the places I have lived most of my life in, I felt very cherished when I read your emails and spoke to you via Skype or phone.

Hyacinth, of course. Thank you. My mother reminded me earlier this week how important you are in my life and how that importance will not fade. I hadn’t needed to be reminded. Every correspondence of ours, every conversation we have and everything we embarked on together are reminders all.

He whose moon is still made of cheese also sent a touching, pensive email that evoked nostalgia of our younger days.

And thank you to everyone who wished me, via cards, in person or on social networking sites. I am sure that the notification process of those sites had something to do with why you remembered, but that is fine. I am often guilty of the same.

Gratitude owed to those who have had a part in how I made it through grief, loss and helplessness this year as I was buffeted by fate and misfortune. Thank you for that.

Most importantly, I need to thank an artist who had once made each day a celebration for me. My work will always have shades of him. My life will always have memories of him entwined. We enjoyed an excellent working relationship and a beautiful friendship. Bless him. Without him, this year could certainly have been much worse than it turned out to be. It is easy to love me when I am at my best. I am exceptionally independent and resourceful then. In fact, I have heard many say it is hard not to love me when I am in that phase. But it is very, very difficult to reconcile that person with the broken shell I can be at times. That shell is not very lovable. This artist loved me even then. He taught me that love and friendship shouldn’t be tainted by seasons or selfishness. To him, an argument didn’t mean that a relationship should be broken, buried and forgotten.

So this year held for me three men who taught me the same lesson in three different ways. Babylon taught me how life shouldn’t be. The coder taught me how life is. The artist taught me how life should be. In their own way, one cruel, one practical and one compassionate, each of them peeled off the solid foundation of the world I had made for myself and brought me face to face with my greatest fears, fears that I hadn’t acknowledged even to myself. I am yet to reach an equilibrium point, yet to recover from the tumult they sowed in my life, yet to come to terms with my weaknesses and yet to come to terms with the losses I have suffered this year. But I will. Meanwhile, life goes on, with a willowy hyacinth as the compass.

In other news, I am older today than I was yesterday. This is certainly a cause for worry, though my mother assures my vain self that I take after my father and neither time nor oxidants shall touch me until I reach fifty. Fifty, according to her, will age me badly and make me a rotund, bald crone. A female Chinese Buddha I shall be then, and good Feng Shui to those who keep me. I am gleeful at the prospect of scaring little children then and very much looking forward to the time when everyone will stop commenting rudely about hair that cannot stand to be combed.

Last year, for my birthday, the artist gave me verses based on one of my scribbles. It was one of the reasons why I loved him so, I think. I write for everyone I care about. Rarely anyone writes to me, or about me. I like it when they do. I like poetry written to me as much as I like writing poetry for those I love. I like being on the receiving end of words and art spun of love as I much as I like to gift my words to those I love. As a person, I am capable of going to great lengths to protect, cherish and stay faithful to those I love. In return, I expect the same. The artist knew that. He gave me that. Unless you have known what it means to be on the receiving end of such affection, you will find it hard to understand, regardless of how insightful you might be.

Prometheus, Prometheus, dare I bind thee?

To keep thee safe, and enshrined in me,

In the holiness of my heart’s affections.

Well, onwards I fly, to craft new songs under a new sun.

~~~

Anchored – a summer’s tale

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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

That is engraved on a tablet and hung in a room in the home of my summer hosts. They are a remarkable couple who also happen to be madly and devotedly in love. I think the highlight of this year was spending time under their roof.

I was scarce a quarter of myself when I first met them in my desperate quest for lodging. Later, much later, they teased me saying they could not place that person with the irksome pest I turned out to be. I cannot blame them for it. I barely knew myself then, as I had been so buffeted and nearly broken by the mental and emotional strain I had been under for a considerable period. When I returned to campus, my suitcase was considerably heavier thanks to K coaching me in the art of shopping for heels (goodbye Napoleon complex!) and handbags. My heart, though, was lighter than it had been in a long while. Their vibes of love and mutual harmony made their house feel like home, like somewhere I belonged. Whenever I made to leave work early, my colleague would snidely correct my words when I said ‘home’. It wasn’t a slip of tongue though. I was eager everyday to return and see what my hosts had done with their day. I loved watching their interactions and their little squabbles that were always quickly forgotten. I liked teasing N for skiving off work just because he couldn’t be bothered to leave the comfort of that decadently luxurious sofa. I was worried by K’s obsession with her calorie counting, for she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen and I hated to see her worrying over food. .

Despite all their eye-rolling and relentless teasing, I felt that they understood me better than most did. I felt content enough to shamelessly indulge in my weekend sleep marathons under their roof. I’d get the scent of the tea she would make on Saturdays, the sounds of vacuuming and her singing, the garage door opening and closing as he left for Poker and I’d still fall back into deep sleep quickly.

There were their indefatigable attempts to make me consume more. I felt very sorry that I wasn’t able to eat enough for their tastes, but I am a finicky eater at the best of times. They tried to rein in my caffeine addiction. There were their persistent interrogations about my nonexistent love life. I am not sure what on God’s green earth had them so convinced I had a string of lovers waiting for me back on campus, given that they knew well my time was occupied with family drama, writing and work. I remember telling them I’d find a man before the summer ended and I remember their eye-rolling. It turned out at the end of the summer that their eye-rolling was justified. I remember being worried they might take offence at some of my more liberal views on politics and sexuality as well as my tastes in dressing. I remember being surprised, relieved and happy when I discovered their pawky sense of humour and their broad views on religion. Towards the end of my stay, they were only surprised if they saw me overdressed. They did not mind my occasional blunt (crude) word. Suffice it to say they had no grand expectations of behaviour from me.

They understood how deep my bond with my family was, for family was an important a cornerstone to them as it was to me.  N and I took delight in teasing her about her very studious, goody-two shoes college days. I think it is her greatest virtue – regardless of what happens in her life, she is bright-hearted enough to make it out untainted. That, along with his careful, unrelenting determination to see and bring out the best in others around him make them a powerful team.

I whined incessantly about how their place did not allow me network coverage. Strange, that I came back and immediately changed my service provider to the only one that had network coverage at their home. I should have done it during the summer and spared them the whining. I’d only have found something else to whine about, though.

I went shopping for furniture with them and was quite taken with how they went about it. The synchronisation they have is other-worldly. I have seen many an alliance of hearts bloom and stay, but never one where the partners seemed so attuned with each other. Well, my grandparents could sometimes be unholy allies when they had a goal in mind, but it was tinged by their Machiavellian ways. Different from this easy,whole-hearted accord that my summer hosts enjoyed.

I was amazed when they took me to a movie (Brave!) and I enjoyed it more than I’d enjoyed Star Wars in February. I liked waiting up for them when they came back from somewhere and hearing their stories. It heartened me to see them together, she with her dimpled ever-smiling radiance and he with his laid-back, sensible presence. I loved their little conspiracies to sell items on craigslist. I loved being a witness to their way of living and their way of tackling life. I felt safe with them.

I did not go to them with my all heart. I was a shadow of myself and waning rapidly. My will was scattered all over the place I’d left behind. But when I returned, I was enriched, strengthened and brimming with hope. They damped my cynicism and gave me a hundred lessons on why we can make things work if we want them badly enough. They taught me new lessons on love, on respect, on career, on generosity, on commonsense, on acceptance, on finances and on trust.

Now it is November. I have had enough time to sit back and think deep on the many beginnings and endings in my life that have happened this year. Among the realisations I’ve had is that I miss N and K so. California was a difficult woman, but she was utterly breath-taking when she yielded. Among the many treasures she gave me is this wonderful friendship with them. I hope to see them again, soon. I heard K is going to be in India around the same time period as I am. I look forward to dragging her home so that I may show my family one half of the best guardian-angel pair I’ve had in life.

“I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.”

 ~~~

Beatus Hyacinthus – this blessed hyacinth

This is the third of the little triad of snippets contained in Under this sun stands tall the hyacinthA love story’s epitaph and Beatus Hyacinthus 

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Leaving is something he knows how to do. He excels at leaving. He can take to the road, to lands unknown, to the bosom of strangers, with nary a pang of fear or uncertainty. Apollo knows how to leave without looking at that he is hastening away from.

He does not know how to return.

Long after an epitaph is engraved in stone, and long after he has taken to the road with staff and wayclothes, he finds that he must return. Fear is no less bitter or pungent the second time around, he realises. So he lingers in inaction, closing his eyes and wishing that circumstances change and that he may never need to face his Waterloo again. He will be glad enough to remain on St. Helena for long, long years to come.

He does not know how he will return and look upon a hyacinth swaying merrily in the western wind. He will. Somehow. He will shine upon the hyacinth, and each ray shall be a strain of music, seeking to sing a paean to the hyacinth, enough to warm the delicate petals; but never enough to burn and wither. Nobody will notice, and everything shall remain the same, for who will believe that the sun rises only to shine upon a flower?

~~~

Souvenir d’un lieu cher (memory of a dear place)

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Tchaikovsky was the first classical composer I listened to. 1812 Overture. I fell in love with the grandeur and the elegance of that composition. From there on, it was a feast. Memories of a dear place indeed. They say he committed suicide. They say he was forced to take that measure upon authorities’ discovery about his sexual orientation. So brilliant a life blighted by intolerance. Freedom is an illusion if we aren’t permitted to love and acknowledge those who seize our hearts.

Let me tell you a story. It brings back memories of a dear place and is well-suited for this day as we mark Tchaikovsky’s life. Someone I know well would never have made it here if not for a hyacinth. With that hyacinth, that soul had known what it meant to live under the sun. They had their troubles. They had a society to reckon with. They had everything to lose. Everything ended, as everything ends sooner or later, but it was due to only themselves, and it was with a parting that left mellow memories of love, belonging, many uncompromising triumphs against a narrow-minded society and the life-long promise of a cherished safety net to fall lightly on when life turned into a catastrophe for either of them. The odds weren’t in their favour, but they managed. The hyacinth had always been favoured by fortune’s winds. It helped. They grew up, parted with a halo of beloved memories of each other, and became promises of unassuming love unfolding in different parts of the world.  They often reminisce about their age of innocence though, about the easy acceptance and comfort they managed to find in each other.

We are not all lucky to be loved equally in life. Only some are fortunate enough to have known love in its purest, unassuming, hallowed sense – a wellspring that will resurrect them again and again to that age of innocence. Blessed are those who have known that.

I wish Tchaikovsky had the chance to live so.

Today, I remember him and remember all those before us who died for the freedom to love. Today, I think of our children and the world we will leave them.

Today, I remember my heart, and I remember the hyacinth.

~~~

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