It’s the last of winters and the slightest breeze brings forth a shower of dry leaves from the trees lining the streets. Very soon, the amaltaas will vie for attention along with the gulmohur and the bougainvillea. Bursts of yellow, red, and shocks of dark mauve and white will inspire some poetry flaming with love, perhaps a dull page of prose too. Soon, the afternoons will be filled with the cuckoo’s song. Soon, the days will feel like they’re unending. Soon, the sun will seep into the mangoes and leave some of his yellow light glowing in the skin of that magical fruit. It’s a time for change. For a short wait before the bare branches are dressed in a tender green.
He looks out of his kitchen window while the coffee brews. The lane leading up to his house is quiet for most part, carpeted in a soft cover of fallen leaves. They crunch when someone walks or drives over them.
He thinks back to all the times between winter and spring, in all the places he lived in. He thinks of his childhood in the Andamans. Port Blair was a sleepy town and the daily ride in the school bus over the hills, with the sea for company was the most exciting part of the day. There was no transition here. No leaves fell. There was a continuous canopy of green in varying shades and tints. He thinks of his late teens in Delhi. Of his grandparents’ house. The chikoo and guava trees sitting pretty in the neat little garden, and what were those silly creepers that hung over the main entrance to the house; winters were a pleasant affair there. He could lie in the grass, soaking up the sunshine and reading about airplanes. He thinks of the days of trying to make it big, in Bombay. Returning home soaked in sweat, the cold water in the shower was the only comfort. The seemingly endless wait for the famed rains of Bombay that felt like a clean up act for all the filth that made Bombay what it was.
He thinks of his hostel room in his alma mater. Of days spent believing he was Mitchell of Top Gun, riding his bike around the city like him, leather jacket et al. He thinks of the sea, of her standing at the shore, at once afraid of the sand slipping away from beneath her feet and awed by the
vastness greatness of the sea. He thinks of a different set of tools his hands were accustomed to; tools he loved despite the pain he always ended up with, in his right arm and the stiffness in his neck when the day’s work for done. But it never really got done. There would always edits and more pictures, and there would be more work to do tomorrow. He thinks of a lifetime of tomorrows gone by. And he thinks of time freezing in the past. And he remembers. He remembers the glasses of the watermelon, strawberry and mint cooler in the freezer. He arranges them neatly on a tray and puts a little garnish of a mint leaf on each and he steps out into the sitting area with his coffee.
His students would be arriving soon.