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  • This is my grandfather. My grandfather picking out the top layer off his coffee, sitting by his reading window.

    He wrote every day of his life.
    The books sit wrapped up in cardboard boxes in a clearing in the centre of his now empty room
    A room in the middle of hills covered with rubber trees, where the forest creeps into the house, through its cracks and turns, if nobody is watching.
    Nobody touches the cartons of books.
    None of his six daughters and sons rifle through the contents.
    I asked for the keys of the house recently, and they told me not to go through the books, who knows what he might have written, we all knew he was a judgmental, demanding father. Nobody needed to read through what he thought, they said,.. it would cause unnecessary conversations.

    I don't know where to start from, when I talk about him. Thoughts of him merge into the house, the rubber trees around, into the kitchen and into my grandmother. And I am six again.
    I will run you through the montage of images and sounds now, I feel I need to collect them, even if they are not in form, in no classification, in disarray, so much like the images from a dream, so vivid that you struggle to remember the details, the sounds, people, landscapes, since they might hold out a clue to you, some meaning, some idea of who you are, and what worries your present mind.
    Forgive the jagged edges of the words, they spill over unmetred today.

    Stillness, the sound of crickets, and the sleep, endless miles of sleep you never wanted to get up from.
    The sound of the fridge humming.
    The smells from the wood fire outside. The sound of Omana, blowing through the metal blower to make the flames glow brighter.
    My grandmother rolling the dough out into chapattis by twilight, the sound of the rolling pin on the marble dough table.
    The bench I used to prop myself on immediately after waking, watching her knead the dough into shape.
    The little red berry tree outside the kitchen door
    Omana, smiling, cleaning out the scales of a fish near the well
    Sounds of splashing water breaking the silence of the night, my grandmother bathing by the side of the well. The sound of the well pulley turn as she drew out more water.

    The well itself, deep, unending, overflowing, the sound of pigeons far below, what did they do there? Why inside? How far down? The earth around the rim of the well, mossy, alive softness which rubbed off on your skin, and lingered on for the rest of the day.

    The guava tree, my mother on the top branches, focussing quite completely on munching her guava when I walk by under to watch her. Picking one for me, and asking me to hold my skirt out so she could drop it in from the top.

    The excitement of smuggling out a matchbox to my little coconut vessel kitchen under the banana trees, against the boundary ledge.

    Following the rubber tappers as they went from tree to tree tapping into the bark for the sweet smelling latex.

    Carrying a pillow into the forest, so I could prop it behind my head on my favorite swinging tree.

    Eating milk powder straight from the cans, and out of sight of all adults, milk powder was scarce in the hills, it was only for the babies, I was never a baby. I was the oldest grand daughter. I introduced the younger ones to the rules around the place.

    Spending time with my little cousin who liked watching the cows chew. Putting out biscuits on a plate on the floor for his little brother, who played at being a cow a lot at the time, it also meant him eating his biscuits adamantly off of that plate on the ground. I liked when he swished his tail, he was a very convincing cow. He didn't like being laughed at, when he was being the cow. He really focussed. We were supposed to just carry on. Our own little universes formed themselves quietly, freely, undisturbed all over the house.
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