Thursday, June 15, 2006

Spring Cleaning

June 8th

Finally finally finally! Have got started on the project to refurnish and re-organise my grandmother's flat where I am supposed to be moving in. The painting and wiring has been already done. Dont know if it is the weather or the Indian temperament but everything takes so long here. Even to make a simple decision like getting started. A lot of spring cleaning is still in progress. Tons of books have been disposed off. When I get started on the old junk like family photos and letters (and some awful poems I wrote when I was seventeen) etc. I often dont have the heart to chuck things out so I am making a file now of archaic documents and pictures which I can keep looking over when I am ninety five. (If I l live that long which I really doubt).

I even came across a black and white photo of my great grandmother posing against the background of some hills in Europe which she visited in 1939. Maybe it was Vienna. I know she visited it. It was a historic visit, because that was the year Hitler was getting ready to pounce on Europe and everyone knew that the brownshirts were after the Jews. My great grandfather, reasonably fair skinned (for an Indian) and with his big long nose was warned by a lot of people in Austria to lie low! My great grandmother sent a postcard to my grandmom which my grandmom never forgot and which in retrospect seemed to ring so eerily true. She wrote that it all seemed like a " picnic of horrors".The heat has eased up somewhat and there is a light breeze flowing in through the open window. And now I am going to get back to "work" which is planning some courses for the next six months.

June 10th

Still at it! More spring cleaning. Recovering more dusty files, boxes, cookery books (all out of my grandmother's chest of drawers and most of the pages slowly falling to bits), empty perfume bottles, a dubious looking folding parasol, paper knives, post cards sent by me to my grandmother from Europe, more photos of the family.... whoooo. I also recovered four ancient looking metal bedpans from one of the cupboards in grandma's room!!!! When I asked my mom about it she said they must have belonged to my great grandfather!

My grandmother's younger maid Saru helps me with all of this. I spread my grandmom's old red and black spotted sari on my lap before I start anything because the first day when I failed to do that I was covered in dust. Anyway - Saru who also likes to cook, was keen that I keep the cookery books because she likes to try out new stuff.

Sometimes I come across something or other - a blouse, a particular sari - which my grandmother used to wear and I start to feel kind of sad and miss her. She was a real cute lady, about four feet eight inches at her tallest (she kept shrinking as she got old) and 96 years old when she died. An intelligent, obstinate, defiant, little chatterbox. Very advanced for her times. She couldn't stand being without company. Always wanted someone around. I was often there in the evenings, we would sit on her balcony watching the sea. I would drink my usual ginger tea and she would sip at her soup and talk of the old days and of people she knew and British rule in India.

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Stardust1954 said...

We will be selling our house soon and I have been going through cleaning out and coming across boxes of old stuff I forgot about. I have artwork from when I was a child and teenager and I thought it was so great back then and it's awful! But like your poems, I keep it all. I also have all of our kids schoolpapers from when they were about 5 years old! I just can't get rid of it. I also found a composition notebook filled with recipes that my grandmother wrote. I look at her writing and try to remember her when she was alive...when she used to use that book while making supper for my grandfather. (She made everything from scratch since there wasn't much prepared foods other than nasty frozen t.v. dinners back then.)

In the photo, is that a balconey that is outdoors? What is the view?

umarang said...

Yes, that is a balcony overlooking the sea. It's where we hang out most evenings before dinner, with a drink. Nice place for meditation.