Everybody is in bed – sleeping. Feels like the house is drowsy too. It’s quiet- so quiet- all around. I am probably an insomniac again. I do not fall asleep easily anyway. I sometimes envy my husband; the moment he hits the pillow, he is gone. On the other hand, I go through a daily ritual of- plump the pillow, pat it two, three times, measure critically if its positioned alright. Once fully satisfied, I climb in the bed and lie awake, motionless but with an active mind, thinking long gone thoughts, times, places images… and sleep comes ever so softly, quietly and takes me away. But then there are nights like last night when hours tick by and my book of memoirs remains open and mind is busy checking log-ins, peering at images, deciphering the meaning from the words. But I know these channels will not remain open all night. I will get my sleep. Really, I do not mind. I know I will fall asleep, eventually, so why fret? Why turn and toss? I don’t have to get up early because my children are past school going age. Breakfast? Who says it has to be at eight in the morning? Eat whenever you feel like eating. A cup of real Darjeeling tea first thing in the morning is my fuel for the day. It has to be a good, hearty cuppa.
I remember, as my wedding day was approaching, my mother telling me that I needed to learn to cook because no matter how many house maids and house boys there are to help around the house, if a girl does not know how to cook, she loses a chunk of her authority and position in the family. As always, I had a ready answer “I know how to make tea and I can buy bread at the bakery. Don’t worry, I have thought it out already.” My poor mother was horrified.
And dreams. Do I dream dreams? I don’t know. I used to but now I am not sure. Maybe I do but do not remember. I admit though that sometimes I go through the day carrying a strange feeling like something has happened, but what? No words, no images, just a feeling. A faceless feeling.
Everybody is sleeping. The house is in a deep slumber now. There was a loud noise outside the main door. I was startled the first time I heard it. Did some body throw a stone at my door? But why? What for? I didn’t do anything to upset anyone… But now I know what it was. In the morning, when I open the door, I would see a dragon fly with its big, transparent wings, lying there on the doormat, like a toy propeller plane. Our front door has a long and narrow glass window right above the door arch – a kind of sunroof- or… I don’t know what. But the light filtering through it sure does allure the poor bug to its death, like a siren call, like a Lorelei, that sits atop a hill or a mountain, calling the lone traveler to madness. So at night this lone traveler sees the lit window and flying full force to this open road to yonder spaces, suddenly hits a solid glass shield and falls down to eternity. Poor bug. Stupid bug!
This morning when you called me from across the Atlantic, I was shooting pictures to paint later on. Getting a call from someone after almost four decades was strange and didn’t feel real. We were not close friends; didn’t have anything in common except that we did our Masters from the same institution. If our acquaintance continued, it was because of you, because I know I was a self-absorbed, careless, looking-down-my-nose person. But today, when I received your call, I was not sure of what I was thinking at the time, but then I was happy, simply happy and felt lucky that in this big and busy world there is someone who cares about me just for me, was looking for me, working, and waiting and hoping for the day she would find me. All along these years when we were raising families, getting gray hair, losing strength, developing health conditions, making dentists rich, and becoming grandparents, she was looking for me. Where did she find the time for that? I used to say that everybody keeps bumping into their long lost, childhood friends but not me. Where have all those people gone who I went to school with?
I was happy, sometimes not, but there never were any regrets until this moment. Until this strange moment in time when she would find me and her voice would crack with emotion.
So I was thinking about and looking at those four lost decades when we could have laughed together, shared our ups and downs of life, sent invitations to our children’s weddings, celebrated the arrival of our first grandchild, sent pictures, bragged about their being oh-so-cute and smart and so much more.
So it was not insomnia after all. I needed to be still, I needed to be calm to go over the lost time. I needed a quiet house.