I have wondered about this old mind of mine. What if I should lose it? Where would my physical body be? While I think it is possible that that could happen, I cringe at the thought of me wandering around aimlessly. I have so much more to write. I still have so many memories in this aging mind of mine.
In my mind I hear the music of the subcontinent, of the drums and tabla, of veena and sitar, and of the notes from an old flute, hand made, and I see the vast stretches of guava trees and the ripening pomegranates, and swings made of thick ropes and a flat piece of wood, hanging from the sturdy branches of the mango trees in the back yard.
I want to write about my home where I grew up, where there were always guests to feed and meals prepared three times a day. Home was where there was always a crowd, day and night, and hordes of relatives. The doors to the front veranda were never closed. The windows always open so the breeze would flow through the home.
The first time I took my daughter to India, there were about fifty people at the airport, not to see me, but to see my daughter. There were even more people when we reached home. Mother had made garlands of jasmines for me, and a palanquin of roses for my child, so she can step into it before she crossed the threshold. Every person there wanted to touch her cheeks, and hold her close. But she slept like a rose bud in my arms, exhausted from the long flight and the heat. They wanted to see this child that was born in America. She was taken from my arms and placed in the flowered palanquin and rocked back and forth by people.
How could I tell these people to stop talking, or ask them to shut up, so my princess could sleep without getting disturbed? Many had traveled twenty to thirty miles in an ox cart, just so they could see my child and me. I had never worn a sleeveless blouse in India, but after coming to the States, I had become somewhat bold, and started wearing blouses without sleeves, and sometimes would also wear slacks. The day I reached home, I had worn a sleeveless blouse because it was so hot. Mother kept bringing the end of my sari over across my shoulders, so I would not look indecent. I wonder what she would have thought if she knew that I wore shorts and went out to exercise at a studio.
My daughter and I were the talk of the town, not just by relatives and friends, but also the shopkeepers in the market, and the people at any given restaurant. We were enigmas to these simple folk, where time had just stopped and they all thought that I would remember Urdu and Farsi and talk to them in those languages. Every time I would talk to my child in English, the women would cover their mouths with their hands and say, ‘Why do you talk in a farangi language to your child?’
There is so much more to write and talk about. Visions of roads stretch before me like Sahara, and I see roadside musicians walking with their flutes, the notes wailing from the reeds~ or an oxen cart loaded with people going to the market on Thursday, some of them eating food off of a plantain leaf, food which they had brought from their homes. Their brown fingers matching mine, their eyes lined with kohl like my eyes, and all of them seemingly asking me to join them, the rhythm of their laughter and their songs entering my soul cleansing me of the western façade that had swept over me and built such a steel fort of aloofness around me.
I hear music from that place I call home all the time. I need to write so much more, but thoughts take wings and all I see are people with love in their eyes, smiles that would blind you with their brilliance and the hospitality that made you cry even decades later. I would so hate it if I were to lose my mind. Where would I store all these thoughts, and whom would I share them with?