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A new house   3 comments

It is disconcerting when you feel like a stranger in your own house. For me that had been the case for over 20 years. I felt estranged and orphaned in my own house. In fact I could never call it my own. I had no sense of belonging or oneness with anything in the house except for my jhoola and I secretly think that was because the wrought-iron, ornate jhoola gave me a feeling of being cradled with its movement. The only time I had invested in that house was when my mother had taken us along to choose a design for the wall-to-wall carpeting for which I chose a Turkish print. It was the bane of my mom’s existence for the next 7 years that it could endure her wrath as it ‘camouflaged’ everything that spilled, poured, shattered on it.
I had myself convinced that I am not the house material. I had issues with my femininity anyways and household chores were always avoided at every cost (and I had paid some dear costs for it!).
A couple of years back I was drawn to the book, Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It sucked me in an alternate reality of house renovations with Italian flair. I was besotted even more by her second book in the series, Bella Tuscany. It connected me deeply to a part of me I didn’t know I had. One that loved homes, creeping bougainvilleas, wrought iron gates, garden furniture, rustic brass handles, chequered tablecloths and lots of sunflowers!
About two months back, a dear friend announced that he was moving to U.K. I had been visiting him at his place for almost a year. I had stayed there a couple of times as well and loved the spaciousness and the vibrant energy of the place. Just when he announced his shift, I remembered having the thought a week prior of wishing to shift into that place if ever they leave. And so, with much hesitation, I asked him if we could rent the place after he and his family left. I needed to work out my finances and had an upcoming work trip that supported the deposit. Moreover, my parents, who had been yearning to shift out of our old house for a long time but couldn’t do so because of financial reasons, were overjoyed to shift in with me. We divided the cost between us and decided we could take it on. There was an added factor though. The house we used to live in earlier had the number ‘301’ and this one was a ‘302’. Having indulged a fair bit in the science of numerology myself, I intuitively felt good about this. It was a step up for me figuratively as well. And so in I plunged with my first real “heartfelt” commitment. It felt like a marriage.
The first step was stripping – stripping my room – which I discovered was very easy. It took me an hour and a half of meditation to gather the energy for it and then I dived in for five straight hours pulling things out, emptying my closet, filling up cargo bags. All along I was feeling a sense of quietness…the child in me was just watching, not knowing how to react. I stopped for a brief glass of lemon barley water to refresh myself and in I went again. Celtic music was playing, weaving a quiet sense of surrender. And yet something was missing. The truth was, for a couple of weeks before the official shifting date, I was staying at the new place with my friend. My ‘acclimatization’ had already begun. And one of the things I noticed was the sense of lightness this place gave me. It was quite literal really! Every morning every room was flooded with sunlight that blinded me as I woke up. There was very little furniture anyways that my friend had set up. That expounded the sense of emptiness even further. And now that I was back in the old house for just three days, I was reeling under the weight of it. Contrarily enough, my old place had heavy black curtains that kept out all sunlight in all the rooms. There was too much furniture everywhere thanks to my mom’s impulsive sense of picking up everything from street side markets that fascinated her. From Bangkok to Kolhapur city, we had it all under one roof that had shrunk in size over the years with the extent of the collection. At the end of the day I was done stripping my room. In my head I was reeling. I started feeling a strange sense of sitting on a ball of mercury and felt displaced. I couldn’t place this feeling to anything I have ever felt before. As the day drew close, and there was still tons left to pack before dawn next day when the movers were coming in, I was feeling unreal and lunatic. I reached out to a friend who tends to be like a towering presence for my inner child in times like these. He is my lightning rod in the storm and it turned out that he was in the process of moving too! It all felt a bit unreal to me. And I kept telling myself, “This too shall pass…” Finally before sleeping at around 2 am I prayed and blessed the house, and thanked it for serving us and asked it to allow us to leave in peace for greater peace.

The day of shifting dawned early and I was up at 6 am waiting for the movers to start. Boxes, bags, mirrors and the furniture got loaded. I felt purposeful. I finally had a sense of us getting somewhere. It all reached smoothly at our new place and the day was spent in coordinating the workers who moved and fixed our furniture. I was happy that they were not drunk (a criteria I had strongly insisted on when we had booked them) and were in fact polite and cooperative. When they were finally done assembling the very tricky ensemble of the jhoola we paid them extra and they commented that they loved our new place. It was a “Yippie!” feeling. That evening I finally met my ‘displaced’ anchor-friend. He shared with me a lovely perspective on colors. He knew so much! I was aghast. All along I was told men were colour-blind and we women know them better. And yet here was this man describing colours like bright blues, rust reds and pale yellows like he had been part of the fashion industry. I remembered that time how he had also been a major subconscious influence on me as I quit wearing black and had switched to white. Thanks to him, I had finally found my “real” black – white – my abundance colour. It affirmed my sense of femininity wearing white. And off late I had been uncovering my dormant feminine side sans the nasty bits that I had so often mistakenly associated with it. I was more gentle, more airy, wishy-washy and yet connected to the earth in me. I could now see how this house was the first manifestation of this side. It was all beige and the wind ran like a young, naive woman unabashedly naked through it. We had no power over her. I realised I needed to search for a wind-chime…one that sounded like the gentle, virile trees wanting to play with her to complement her sense of freedom. As I thought of this my friend complemented me on how collected I looked. I had even got a new haircut that day. It all fit so perfectly that I leave the unnecessary vanity behind to let the unbearable lightness of being that the house filled me with carry me into newness. My shoulders looked lighter, he also observed. Amused he connected the dots of how I always wore my shoulders bare as though they were weighed enough and now that they were lighter I was dressing them up. It filled me with joy to be around someone who was listening to unspoken signs and opening my eyes to the newness of me. My heart sang and my soul filled itself with a soft love effusing like gardenias after a summer sprinkle. I realized this might be the ‘grace’ he so often mentions in our conversations. Hmm…it made sense. The word fit. I left emptied further of tears and joy. I am at a high-point in my life, the voice of a wise woman spoke inside me. I smiled. I was beginning to listen to her. That night I put my eyes to sleep asking them to receive the abundant light that would awaken them. The song Sea Dreamer played in my mind as I drifted away…

Same tide that drew me closer
Pushed me far away
I held the hand that lit the dark night
Nothing I could say
I was on the outside
I was waiting for a sign
I set a course for a hidden island
That lay beyond the deceiving silence
I was on the dark side
I was sailing towards the light
I made my way through a sea of silence
A pirate’s life for a worthless diamond

I try and listen to the music when the ocean breathes
Wish that I could build a bridge across the sea
And the secrets of the moonlight would carry me
To where the sun meets the water and the sky breaks free
That’s where I’ll be

The next day my mother called me from a place deep into the heat and heart of the old city area where we could buy brass statues at a wholesale price. She had a steal she said. It was part of my vision for the house (my house?) to have a brass Ganesha statue as the first view when one opens the door to my house. My mother is renowned for her resourcefulness. So she did the initial reconnaissance and off I went into the winding, hot, sweaty streets in the mid-afternoon sun filled with flower markets, curtains being sold off carts, people pushing their way through and the vendors shooting voices into tall octaves and reached a tiny shop with every inch covered in polished brass statuettes. When she showed me a sun face hanging from the roof with a Ganesha at the centre, I was disappointed. It did not fit my vision. However, I decided to look around. Soon I found a large brass head of an elephant with a bell in its trunk. Something about it called me. I liked the grandiose. And yet it was not ‘perfect’. I looked around further and my eyes caught sight of a Ganesha in a dancing pose, one foot in the air, on the head of an elephant holding a bell. It clicked and the price was just right. Something in me tugged my heart to look further into the wealth of the shiny brass gold in the shop. Brass has always been my favourite metal. At times I catch a longing in me to wear a brass anklet in one of my legs, heavy and intricately carved. Like a village bella. I love the look of gold and heaviness of the earth that brass combines. Gold, for me, is too ostentatious and I generally avoid it for it feels too heavy. It is a play of ironies indeed! Moments later the invisible became visible – the tug manifested into a couple of brass door handles – fairies-cum-mermaids – with hands in a Namaste pose curved into a handle. Something about them was bewitching and yet elegant. I couldn’t imagine them to be door handles for sure and hence settled on them flanking either sides of the Ganesha. I was satisfied! The resonance was deeper; as I made my way to an ATM almost half a kilometre away to withdraw the cash I needed to pay for the fairies, I felt my blood gush with the feeling of having followed the universe’s call. As I walked back to the shop to pay for the fairies, I felt, yet again, cradled by grace. Maybe this was the beatitude the old saints spoke about.
It took two days to get the carpenter to fix the three brass statuettes right. I had managed to find a set of coordinated buckets of various sizes, a set of spoon holders for the kitchen, a lace-ended plastic sheet to cover our circular dining table and a place to hang our original Schwarz-Wäldern, hand-painted cuckoo clock that I had bought four years ago laboriously all the way from Switzerland. I carried the prints of a couple of Van Gogh’s bought from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam to put them up in this place and mentally labelled the task of finding the perfect frames for them as “expedition two”. The large mirror went up in my room and it was then that I finally felt complete and one with the house. The house owned me more than I owned it. My mother was pleasantly surprised at my dedication saying this was a different daughter she was seeing. I was glad she was acknowledging the inner change that had brought about this. In a way, I was starting the alphabet again with a capital ‘a’. This was just a beginning of a series of commitments in my life is what I felt. The long road home had just begun and I was deeply grateful that it had started from home itself. I was the alchemist who worked backwards, as with everything else in my life – i was starting with the pot of gold on the journey down a rainbow. My dear anchor told me to drop the “gratitude” in my message signature. I replaced it with “joy” to be more authentic to what I was feeling. And I have only been experiencing gratefulness ever since.
Now the Tibetan flags hanging over the jhoola flail their elemental chants on the breathless wind. I hear my voice chant Om every morning calibrating itself with my electronic tanpura. The need to be me seems complete. A sense of surrender beckons tears of purity as I practice bharatnatyam rachanas in front of the mirror. “Je suis contient…” the heart whispers loud enough for the universe to hear…”je suis contient….finalement”[I am content…atlast].

Posted May 12, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles

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