My city was once a blue jay

I am one of those 30-year-olds who believes that things were better when I was growing up. I have a romanticized interpretation of the good old days. Like many, I want to remember the past for the lessons it taught me, not the scars it gave me. It adds more credibility to the life I lead, and the decisions I continue to take.

Many of the memories I recollect comprise mushy dribble. A tacky sequence of events that made no sense back then. In hindsight, it was as though the past had been engineered just to make me a wiser person. It’s a bunch of nonsense. A game of Russian roulette without any bullets.

But some of it feels warm and genuine. Unbroken and unedited. The month of December in the city of Chennai during the Nineties is one of those things.

It was when the city looked its finest. Every morning, like some Indian blue jay, it appeared to have taken a quick dip in running water. A lilac sun emerged to lovingly blow-dry its heart. The streets were quieter too. Distinct smells snaked through their veins, accompanied by soft music and known faces. Familiarity wasn’t a curse. It was a reward.

The city stayed half-awake until the last evening bus left its busiest nooks. Then, it turned pale and dreamy, awash with wood smoke – once again a sleepy damsel.

I was smitten. I was hers for the hair-combing – one streak of dying light at a time.

Chennai has changed over the years. A lot more than many of us, who were born, bred and fed in the city, want to deal with. We complain about it, at times. Whenever a new building pops up in the neighborhood. Or a fancy chain of stores decides to park its posterior here.

Still, every now and then – we see the beauty it once bore during the end of the year.

Every December, I wait for it.

Come back, ma chérie. My winter cherry.

Indian Roller

I ache
for December,

like some
wet mongrel would,

with his nose 
pressed against
his stray lover’s 
winter clothes.

(Photographs: Chennai – December 2014)

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62 comments

  1. The word “ache”… the pain of longing. Very powerful in your poem. I suppose we all feel it. We had something that we had no idea we would miss so badly. My heart “went there” reading your piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The word “ache”… the pain of longing. Very powerful in your poem. I suppose we all feel it. We had something that we had no idea we would miss so badly. My heart “went there” reading your piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I believe you stop “growing up” at the moment of your last living breath. By that logic, things are always better.
    I read your post first thing in the morning and I went into a trip down my own love for the city. I have no idea why I love this city so, but home is here. I can’t think of any other city in the world as home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I have no idea why I love this city” In a weird way, I couldn’t have said it clearer. I think there is some poetry in that, the unfathomably familiar. For some reason, I think it’s also why many of us like pillows.

      Like

  4. “But some of it feels warm and genuine. Unbroken and unedited.” … “Distinct smells snaked through their veins”…. Christie, your thoughts, more your words make me linger on and around the lines more longer …. it certainly feels good!

    Chennai December….. reminds me of the cool early morning air there muddled with a typical odour that pervaded and penetrated the streets and balconies… … I loved May more (probably ‘coz of vacation)! Chennai looks much changed now … the scenes, the smell, the feel …. despite all, I still ache for that familiar feel …. Whenever I travel from Kerala by train now, soon as I reach the suburbs and pass by more familiar terrain, bubbles and butterflies start fluttering within! …..guess we get attached to some places and whatever happens it’s hard to disown rather disinherit – a part of it we keep carrying and missing forlornly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. M! Missed you around these parts. Thank you for such lovely descriptions. I think I will pay extra attention to my surroundings this May!

      There’s a mystic to wanting to miss it again and again, knowing it won’t ever come back, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so kind of you to say that Christy! Its a joy to be here …I wasn’t and isn’t regular on wordpress these days!

    May month I guess its lot to do with the summer vacation and the freedom I enjoyed unreasonably …. the time when I could just ‘be’ and watch the world from balcony – the nonstop rush of vehicles, cycle rickshaws, bullock carts(I disliked these), mixed crowd of passers by- some walking leisurely, some rhythmically, some running God knows where … more busier birds, the glimmering sea just a little farther, last but not the least hot sun and the cool breeze from the sea post-lunch that caressed and cradled me soothingly in its arms …. I’m talking about the Chennai (road-Rajaji Salai) of 80’s and early 90’s. I used to love watch the world move by from that small extension of our building! Though a lot has changed the cool breeze post lunch still prevails! 🙂 Thanks Christy, you just made me remember those beautiful lighter moments of life …thanks a ton! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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