I love looking back. I collect memories. I relive the years gone past. I look into old photographs and see past the people in the pictures. I am transported back to slivers of time preserved in my head. These memories, they swirl in my head like in a pensieve, dragging me along into corridors of my past.
Conversations with my dad riding pillion on his bike, with the wind blowing against my face, the sticky humid air clinging to me like second skin. The trepidation apparent on my mother’s face as she broaches the topic of yet another young man wanting to meet me. The static over the phone line when silences eat up money and distance. The smell of cashews frying in ghee and the sight of raisins swelling, its skin pulsing out as it cooks. The smell of anticipation, trapped in a small kitchen populated by more people than it can hold. The silk saree, feeling sensuous against my skin, the pleats falling in neat lines along my torso, the thin border anchoring the thoughts that threaten to spill out of my head.
The weight of disappointment as I stand at a busy intersection two hours past meeting time, waiting for a glance of my then fiancé. The peach colored fitted kameez I adjust as the door bell rings and my stomach lurches. The slant of the midmorning sun as I reach out for his hand. The long conversation sitting on wide stone steps of a temple late in the evening that are inconsequential in content but significant in the trust that was exchanged. That moment in a crowded bus stop, one foot on the step as I turn back and see the longing in my eyes mirrored on his. The thrum of my heartbeat as I realize the next time I see him will be hours before our wedding.
The giddy farewell lunches as I hug and promise to keep in touch. The box of belongings I carry out to the auto, a friend trailing behind me. The sea of faces as the train lumbers on to the station. The seven huge boxes I stuff under my seat and in my berth as I wrap up a single life and prepare for a gaping unknown.
The crowds that jostle and push as I let my fingers linger over the gold zari work and choose the priciest of sarees for my special day. The resplendent red bridal saree with gold needlework all over the body and the thick gold borders I pack and unpack about a few dozen times. The hours at the parlor with soft hands that massage my face, pluck my eyebrows and coax a glow out of me. The brick red salwar kameez with cream embroidery I wear to the airport, a bouquet of flowers in my hand, unsure of what to feel.
One last trip to Baskin Robbins with friends the night before my wedding when conversation is a cover for all those unspoken feelings. The air is thick with emotion and a joy so heavy that it settles on us, muffling words and making words meaningless.
The riotous colors, the pungent flowers, the incense, the rose water. A melange of smells, tastes and colors that last three days before I wake up to a new life in a new home. A simple cream cotton saree, heavily hennaed arms, jangling bangles and tinkling anklets. A rush of emotion as my family visits for a meal and leaves me feeling lonely. A visit from a friend, awkward silences as we sit at the edge of my marital bed, the chasm between us having grown the size of an ocean in one day.
The open suitcases, the satin night gowns, the assortment of tee shirts and two jeans that comprise my wedding trousseau. The packed taxi, the bittersweet farewell, the long delays at the airport, the middle of the night arrival in a strange land with empty roads and corn fields flanking apartments. The cold shower at 2:00 AM as I mistake the shower for a faucet. The bare apartment, the sterile carpets and the sumptuous first meal at a stranger’s home.
The leisurely mornings chatting on Yahoo, the frenzied lunch prep, the animated lunches and the long afternoons in an empty apartment. The long emails and longer replies, the relentless job search and occasional grocery run. The post dinner walks, the first party I cooked for, the carrom board games, the first flush of adulthood in conversations full of double entendre. First friends, mid afternoon chai breaks, open conversations, two pillows and one throw with a fan whirring overhead. Making rotis, learning Hindi, traveling solo, exploring the city, thinking of building families. First job in a new country, amateur mistakes, deep embarrassments, window shopping and lunches with aliens.
Weddings in the family, four week India trips, meeting friends and family, watching relationships fray and then snap. House hunting, welcoming parents home, doing touristy things. First car, job breakthroughs, a long cherished dream of getting my Masters degree.
Losing dad, welcoming my niece, giving my sister away in marriage, baby showers, heartbreaks galore. Blogging, new friends, online communities and staring at the divide between families and the childfree. Loneliness. MBA.
Arid mountains. Snow capped peaks. Deserts. Babies. Love. Pain. Overwhelming joy. New familial bonds. Travel with babies. Maternity break. Work from home. First birthday. Evening walks with a double stroller. Parks with rubbery mulch. Slides, Swings. Baby food, Dora the Explorer, bone deep exhaustion. Pretty dresses. Everyday rituals. A love for writing.
Solo vacation. Surprise pregnancy. Broken bonds. Gestational diabetes, shots and mini meals, part time working, baby showers, overwhelming love and an unexpected C-Section. Visits from friends, baby on my brain, long nights, little sleep, quitting work and finding my zen.
Words and more words. A germ of an idea. One month of writing. A rough draft that languishes. Two years of school. Cooking, baking and healthy eating. Impromptu ice-cream treats, visits to the Zoo, amusement park, silent rides home. Sleeping babies, movies on mute, novels on Kindle.
Seven job changes, one apartment, two homes, three children. Two adults bound by vows taken fifteen years ago. A marriage that has weathered storms and is braced for more to follow. Gray hair, bifocals, love handles, tantrums, silent wars. Cheese dosas, afternoon siestas, winking diamonds, WhatsApp messages, silly emojis and a whole lot of love.