After the four-day buzz of travel, we get a two-day rest at home (before hopping on to a plane again). It’s exciting to see new vistas unfold, to meet with people who speak different languages, and to observe the topography of a city change in a few hundred miles. The constant adrenaline rush and the thirst to know more, to see more, follows us like a shadow, as we taste a new dish, step into a new gallery or watch the sun set in a different State. We come back home with a handful of experiences in our diaries, and some ‘miles’ in our cards. And we are greeted by the familiar softness of the throw on the couch, that painting of red tree on the wall, and the scent that sticks to everything in every room. We are home. And in here, we find a deep-seated peace, more like a pat on a head and a soft whisper that says, ‘All is well’.
We have a new artwork on our walls. A four-frame series done by my handsome husband. Each of the paintings was made over the last couple of years; before we even got married. The artworks, for a long time, were lost in the depths of the many unused blankets, books, and suitcases in our closet. And unearthed after a spurt of intense cleaning last weekend. These paintings, I recall, were dissected over long international calls from the States to India. Ready to grab the smallest of excuses to let the call linger for a while longer, banal questions dressed up as profound ones, were asked and answered. As the artworks increased, there grew a repository of shared discussions that only we understood. The canvases that in some small way helped us understand and decode each other, now hang proudly on the wall. A reminder of our long calls, shared laughs, and hefty bills.
Our apartment is on the second floor. We rest in our patio with a book and a glass of wine for hours. A convenient height separates us from the hustle and bustle of the world below. Cars drive in and out of driveways, dogs sniff and poop, kids run and shout, the elderly take a leisurely walk, their steps slowed down by heavy gossip. While life at a higher pedestal seems comfortable, there are times when we have to tiptoe around our own house in the night and shush each other while in the patio.
A month after we move in, a bunch of friends come to visit us. A night which starts with small glasses of wine, matures into multiple rounds. Intoxicated, and mostly just happy, the song from the turntable has one grooving on one’s wobbly legs. Like an infection, the urge to dance spreads. And soon, six of us are on our feet. A jig which is cut short by a firm knock. It’s our neighbor from downstairs. He asks us to keep it low.
A few weeks pass by, and another group of friends visits us. This time, we make sure not to dance. All the energy is channeled towards animated conversations, fueled by laughter, loud claps, and sometimes, walks across the table to pat someone on their back. And all of a sudden, there is that familiar knock. This time, with surprise creases on our faces, we wait to hear the complaint. “Everything, just everything is too loud,” says our neighbor, looking distressed.
Ten days later. There is excitement in the air. Star Wars Last Jedi is releasing tomorrow. With a pack of chips between us, we flop into the soft cushion of our sofa, to watch the Star Wars prequels, well into midnight. And just when we take in our first mouthful of chips, we hear the knock, which we acknowledge with a contempt that only familiarity breeds.
So on Thanksgiving Day, my husband and I put on our best smiles and knock on their door. We gift them a bottle of wine, and shower apologies. Months pass without a knock on our door. And then one fine evening, our house is filled with guests that includes my two-year-old niece. For her, the house is a play field. She kicks the ball, catches it, throws it with all her might, kicks it again. Then jumps, dances, rests and repeats all of it.
Sometime close to midnight, she freezes on her toes, when the knock echoes, loud and clear. Only this time, it’s not on the door. But from underneath the floor. Guess, ‘knock knock’ is not a joke anymore.
I used an empty can of Focal Banger (The Alchemist Vermont) to make this. Even before I painted on it, the can looked stunning. This particular drink was ranked Number #1 in the India Pale Ale Category, in 2015, according to www.ratebeer.com.