Like every other Bengali child in the colony, I was handed a box of crayons the moment Igrasped the fundamental art of holding my neck straight.My ungodly screams in the middle of the night made a lasting impression too, as I was sent off to learn the ropes of Rabindra Sangeet before I could say “Mama” – an experience that I deeply loathe to this day; while others of my age rolled in the dirt and munched on the fresh grass of spring. I suppose my parents envisioned me growing up as the ideal Bengali son – aGod-fearing, verse spouting, piscivorous academic genius who would avoid any contact with the forbidden sex, like a cat dreads water. Unfortunately, I turned out to be more treacherous than the Feroz Shah Kotla track on the fourth day and spun out of control before my good parents could lay a finger on my adulthood. And then of course, there was no reining in my evil agendas.
But let’s go back to the past, when I was touted to be the next Picasso. That didn’t exactly go to plan, as true to my rather dull nature, I ended up eating the crayons, ravaging the walls and colouring my father’s presentation deck. My parents, terribly hopeful souls, saw this catastrophe as a mark of my truly unbridled potential and wasted no time in getting me enrolled to only the best drawing school in my quaint hometown. My teacher, who was an over enthusiastic middle-aged man in his forties, accepted me with open arms and zero foresight of the ruin that I would bring upon him. As such, it wasn’t long before I began wreaking havoc on his favourite collection of paintings, colouring everything and everyone that stood in my way. Despite his best attempts, he could never inculcate in me the importance of finishing my work, as I left in my trail canvasses and drawing books that depicted scenes that you’d expect to see after Hela levelled Asgard. My art teacher at school saw right through my profound lack of talent, as the grades rapidly deteriorated from fair, to below average, to particularly hopeless. I could never master the art of patience or the ability to finish the job.
So, it would take someone very special to teach me the importance of hanging in there during the storm, of learning to hope with endless strength, and retaining immense faith even in times of great despair and darkness. It would take someone very patient, to handle the intricacies of a long-distance relationship – an unforgiving desert, without a sign of life on the horizon – and ruthless, ever consuming time – time that changes even the most powerful of convictions. It would take someone as elementary and essential as the sun to thaw the ice that we let so easily creep into our lives. It would take someone as beautiful and profound as the anchor that buries itself into the heart of the ocean, to sustain life on top of it. Someone as strong and blunt, as the levee to break down the tireless waves that eat at the core of the very foundations of our love.
And when you do find someone like that, the only logical option is to laugh away the miles of separation and the hours of longing, because you know that the long vigil at the bleak outpost is coming to an end. You know that you are no longer required to stay up in the dark, looking out for the wolves – because they have long disappeared in the fire that you lit that burns out the black. You can sleep, because that rest was worth the wait.
You bring me peace, in a time of chaos. Warmth, in a time of apathy. Time, in the face of change.
And hope. Endless, profound hope – like the golden sun and the lengthening shadows on a wintry afternoon, that gently warm our bones.