Unauthorised persons prohibited beyond this point, it says in white and red. The regular. The sign of a man, walking away into the distance.
The red tiles have leafy green patches, peering discreetly, almost apologetic by their sudden appearance. Upwards and onwards, onwards and upwards, they seem to whisper.
The sky is electric blue and the full moon stares menacingly at the North Sea Fish restaurant. I wonder how many people are eating fresh fish for dinner.
This is the day I will remember for the piercing incongruence, the day I fought to salvage the little scabs that were left of what Auden would have called a crooked heart. I wonder if he’s smiling wryly somewhere, having described the human condition in a way no one else can.
This is also the day I will remember as the day I thought that life runs in loops and circles, vulnerability enmeshed with resilience. This is the day I will remember for being the day that I was remorseful and joyous.
The vertical buildings form arcs above my head. The clouds stand still, some hovering around in a grandfatherly fashion, ever ready to whisper to their little ones, ‘Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.”
Dimly lit window panes betray faces fraught with pain. From the corner of my eye, I see brick red roofs, years and years old looking freshly painted by a young artist’s tactile enthusiasm.
As I sit on the portico, I cut a diminutive figure against the love, blood and sweat of the ancients as my paper-thin heart gets crushed without the slightest blink.
The fragrance of the strawberries wafts in the air. Delicate white hands smoothen out the bitter chocolate. Enmeshed with crepes, the afternoon sun seems bittersweet. For an instant, the draught chills their bones. The twinkle of an eye, a gradual grin and softness bursts into song. The moment seems fragile.
The pigeons hover about the marketplace, looking for crumbs. Amidst the drowsiness and the pallor, there is exchange of conversation. Subtly at first, followed by a gush of emotions when they talk about their mutual love for well-worn books.
The tube is crowded. In a whirl of colours, the two find themselves sitting beside each other, eliciting odd stares. They talk about their hopes, their dreams, shattered fragments. They talk about lives lost. He talks about his family, how no one knew where his grandfather was in the aftermath of the tragedy.
He asks her if she misses home. She does, she tells him. She misses the people. She misses her jamrul tree. When she asks him what it is that he misses about home, he says it is the river that flows downstream in Kyoto and the quiet mountains.
They sit down to drink coffee. They discuss samurais and comics books. As the sun begins to set, two strangers discover an unknown land that neither can call home.
Both have fire in their eyes and wonder in their hearts.
(Reeti Roy has a first degree in English Literature from Jadavpur University and has a Masters degree in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and political science. She also writes under the pseudonym Jonaki.)