An epistolary ode to my best friend

Aug 03, 2018, 07:00 IST | Rosalyn D'mello

On the agenda for each day is six hours of solid writing so that the next book I'm longing to birth can assume a more evolved state

An epistolary ode to my best friend
I wanted this column to be written by the edge of the Anjuna River that constitutes the backyard. Representation pic

Rosalyn D'melloI waited until I could arrive at my destination to write this column. Not because I couldn't earlier. I'd woken up at the crack of Delhi's dawn, in time to witness leaves swaying so briskly the leheriya saris I'd repurposed as curtains heaved between the threshold of my window as if they were living beings animated by wind.

Delhi does this to me quite often when I am on the verge of departure; acts all pretty and seductive so that I experience a pang of slight sorrow when I'm in the backseat of a taxi heading to the airport. But this morning as I drank my coffee and had my scrambled eggs on buttered toast, I basked in the city's monsoonal revelling without the twinge. In less than an hour I'd be leaving to catch my flight to my homeland. Goa trumps Delhi when it comes to monsoonal vigour.

It's an unfair comparison, given Goa's coastal positioning and Delhi's desert-plain landscape. That aside, I knew what awaited me this time; a sublet house with a view. I wanted this column to be written by the edge of the Anjuna River that constitutes the backyard. I wanted it also to be the first thing I write on this self-imposed, self-funded residency.

It's odd for a writer to leave her studio to go elsewhere to write. But this sojourn is also a test run; to experience what it might be like to relocate to the state of my origin; to where I claim ancestral roots. I don't know if it's the red soil that's calling out to me or if it's the premise of a simpler life with cheaper rent.

My accountant confirmed to me the plunge in my income in the last financial year. I was quite content to hear his assessment. It sounds so foolish, this desire to earn less than before. I think of it as a desire to earn just enough as to subsist and write and travel when I need to. I decided last year to treat money for what it is; a means to an end. I've never had so much clarity as to what that end embodies. It's as clear now as the eastward direction of the swell of the river that flows in front of the massive desk upon which I've placed my laptop and the remains of my bowl of mango-dahi-muesli — to write all the books my body is aching to produce.

I'm enthused by the promise of solitude; to inhabit a space that is feline. Barfi and Cleo have already befriended me. I've already begun to converse with them.

Barfi, in particular seems to enjoy sitting near me. Then there is the neighbour's Pomeranian, Aden, who has curled in a corner in a state of half-sleep; alert only when the plastic rain-guard rustles too loudly. In the backyard to my right, two Goans are fishing silently. They aren't yet aware of my presence; neither are the birds that chirp un-self-consciously. It is nothing short of idyllic. Through the house, placed in a range of sites from the fridge door to the suspended modem to the coffee table are little notes left by Sharanya who otherwise lives here, but has left for Europe for two months. I will take her place in this interim, inhabiting elements of her routine.

It was an act of grace how all of this came together. I would be remiss not to acknowledge also the feminist sisterhood that made this possible; knowing that I have a friend in Delhi who is caring for my apartment while I am here caring for Sharanya's. We're housekeeping for each other. It's beyond just logistics, there's genuine nurturing. I can tell from the note Sharanya left me on the table urging me to enjoy where it's been poised.

The sun emerges to my right; I surmise that must be west where it will eventually set. Ever so slightly it gets gauzed over by clouds and its light gets diffused until suddenly it is cast over my skin once again. I'm contemplating the texture of my daily routine while I am here. On the agenda for each day is six hours of solid writing each morning so that the next book I'm longing to birth can assume a more evolved, less foetal state. I want to return to Delhi with a draft that I can then flesh out. Incidentally, it was in Goa that I had begun to write this second book, my epistolary ode to Mona; a book that is all about the politics of housekeeping and hospitality coupled with female friendship and feminist solidarity. It feels fitting that I should return to write it; drawing from all the longhand notes I've been making in my journal. I feel ready. I look forward to updating you, my invisible audience, of my progress. Wish me luck!

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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