I remember the feeling distinctly. I was 8 when the days used to be endless. When night came, it was welcomed by the sweet scent of homemade desserts and sounds of unforced laughter. It was a temporary escape from the city -- but it was the ideal escape. I had known this place since the day I was born, which is probably why I was so strongly connected to the sounds, sights and general moods associated with it. It is where the generations met under one roof and we knew we were family. When I turned 8 I finally made the connection. This was my safe place; whether or not anyone still lived here. The mango trees, the untainted breeze... and the silence.
This place was never short of love and it remained that way for generations. It was sparse but cozy, loud but peaceful. I knew every inch that spanned from the two banana trees in the backyard, all the way to the reservoir a couple of blocks away. We used to go swimming in that reservoir. We would get right in there with the spring water and the tiny fishes that circled our legs. No one cared... everyone laughed.
At 8 I realized that when life led me astray and I felt hopeless, I would always come back to this place, even if I wasn't physically present here. It is amazing that although I spent most of my first few years as a child living in the city, I continued to find comfort in the rustic ambience of a secluded utopia built by my great grandfather.
I feel myself climbing those 16 steps to the porch... touching the bench as the sunlight bounces off of the yellow paint... I smell the earthy, wet mud kissed by the monsoons and the fusion of gardenias, sunflowers and roses spinning into the air.... there's spinach growing in the backyard, and pigs bathing under the mango trees. I sense it. I feel it... I'm there.
Never would I have imagined that a weekend and summer getaway as a child, would turn out to be a seatbelt for life as an adult.
From the day I was born, I had been absorbing its essence into my mind. Into my soul. I haven't been back there since I left and yet, I can direct strangers with familiarity.
In my mind, I have fallen asleep on the stone porch for the millionth time. There is a tropical breeze singing a familiar tune, while the coconut trees shade my body -- content with a promise that I will wake up at peace again.