Did you Smell the Roses?

Smell the Roses

Reposting since am without electricity at my house again…

I returned home to darkness. They had disconnected power supply to my house because I had not paid the bill.

Growing up, I lived in a city where power cuts were the norm. We had different forms of battery back up, which were crucial for some respite, but eventually they would all die down.

I have survived in darkness. I have enjoyed watching the faint flicker of candlelight. Not because I was having a romantic dinner, but because that was the only source of light. Reading in the diffused glow, I have strained my eyes to complete the last pages of a chapter.

I have been irritated by moths flying into the flames at the mouth of the kerosene lamp. I have burnt my hand by placing it carelessly on the hot glass exterior of the lamp. I have complained and been ignored or fretted upon, as was the mood of the evening. The blisters on my fingers have long since vanished.

On hot sultry evenings, I have lain supine outside. My grandfather with his newspaper folded as a fan. My grandmother with a hand fan made of sweet smelling sandalwood. The moonlight played hide and seek with the wisps of silvery clouds. The gentle breeze brought a welcome break to the monotony of heat.

I have swatted off mosquitoes who have had their share of feasts on the blood in my veins. Learnt not to scratch when it itches bad. I have stared at stars and woven stories of lands that lay far.

I have missed my favourite movies being aired on TV, while in darkness, I sang tuneless songs till my voice was hoarse. The music continued to reverberate long into the late hours. It echoed inside and all around. And when no one was looking I would furtively dance to this ethereal surround sound.

I have rested on the cool concrete steps outside and heard the frogs croak. I have seen the black cat cross my way without bringing bad luck.

I bore the nagging chirp of the crickets. The sudden swish of the bats flying out of the eucalyptus tree in front of my house, across the road. I have dodged the chiaroscuro of the dimmed street light. I have gotten lost in the shadows of the shrubs and the distant hum of traffic.

I have revelled in a single firefly. I have wished upon that elusive shooting star. I have heard senseless stories; drowsy with sleep, on plain white cotton sheets. I have giggled till my sides hurt and objected on all improbable heroics. Demanded happy endings and gotten confused with sequels.

On cold frosty winter evenings, I have sat bored near a bonfire. I have had corn roasted in the fire. Snuggled into my mother’s warm shawl. I have prodded my snoring father.

I have missed clandestine phone calls on the landline as I huddled out of doors. I have dozed to the stillness of the night. I have smelt the roses in my garden. Who needed light?

Then, how come in the darkness I had nothing to do this time? Why have I forgotten that roses, even at night, without the lights, smell just as nice?


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  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    May 9, 2016 at 8:34 am

    absolutely beautiful, aarwen. and full of misty memories. loadshedding, you had to survive, you had to sing, maybe that’s why we could smell the roses.
    this was a real good read. “objected on all improbable heroics.”

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      May 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Thank you Indi di. I think I didn’t actually like the power cuts when I was a kid, but looking back I feel like I am inordinately fond of it. Something that forces you to do nothing, but relax and let your senses do their feeling thing.. I feel the same about bus rides. we should throw away phones and not to anything during bus rides. Now, I must write about that..

      • Reply
        indrani robbins
        May 11, 2016 at 9:46 pm

        necessity, always mothers creativity. when i didn’t have a smartphone, which was for several years, i would love sitting in the bus and letting my mind go anywhere it pleased. and once in a way, i’d look at the people around me, all eyes trained on phone, earphones stuck in ears… and felt a mixed sense of disdain, pity, and superiority. then i got my iphone.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I have cried because the power went off just as DD was going to show the once a year event, grammy nominated songs! Only time you got to see music videos then, and there was no repeat telecast. There have been number of other occassions too, when the powercut has made me want to throw a tantrum 🙂 Simpler times. Yes, we’re far too preoccupied now to appreciate the simple things.

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      May 17, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Thank you for reading.. Simpler times for sure Kizh. Less choices as well and no repeats. I think it is in the movie Love Aaj Kal that an old wise Rishi Kapoor tells the hep and cool younger Saif that the problem with today is all the different choices haha.. I would cry when I missed Chitrahaar or a new Shahrukh movie. Didn’t know they showed Grammy music videos.. interesting.

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    April 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    ha. glad you reposted. hope power back soon.

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