Back to the Village | A Day In The Life Of...

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When your days begin with birdcalls and cowbells, when time turns abstract, when you live each moment in the present and are grateful for every aspect of your new life, that’s when you know did right by moving to the countryside.

There’s something about the untrammelled nature of non-urban spaces that brings your mind into sharp focus.

Vanakkam Amma and Appa,

If there’s one thing that’s improved since coming here, it is my Tamil. Apart from my lung function. All the oxygen I’m inhaling here is making up for those 22 carbon-emission filled years spent in the city. I don’t remember much of my childhood in the villages of Andhra, but I now understand why the both of you keep complaining about the urban air.

 

Every morning on my walk from the hut to the wash area, I say kaalai vanakkam (good morning) to the butterflies, birds and cows — Linga, Lakshmi, Maha, Karuppah, and Rasathi, and Kaala. Only Linga and Kaala allow me to pet them, the others act too cool and shoo me away if I go near them. Even cows have attitude issues. Midway through this short walk Jordan, Chocolate and Foxy come bouncing towards me. Dogs sure have a sixth sense. Then Shushi lets out a loud mew and that wakes up Vazhiya, the other cat. These two have finely-defined territories. And both rub themselves against my legs multiple times, marking me as theirs.

 

Unfortunately for them, my heart belongs to Bhairu — the brown bundle of joy whom I found shivering near the kitchen door one morning. Bhairu is like my shadow. The other day, she followed me all the way into the forest, even though I kept shooing her away. On our way back, I had to carry her ‘cos she was all out of breath. Actually not, she was sprightly as ever, I just needed an excuse to carry her.

 

She is always running around me through the day. During the nights, we sleep on the same mat. She cuddles up near my feet. At times when I’m feeling blue, she lies down right next to my heart. When I look into her puppy eyes, all my worries fade away. Animals are so magical, no? I sometimes wish I were born as one. Human beings, while lovely, can sometimes get annoying. I am yet to meet an annoying animal.

 

There are two ducks and a brood of roosters, hens and chicks as well. The ducks love pecking people, especially Dilawar. Peshawar is quieter, she usually plays in the pond by herself while Dilawar goes hunting for his next victim. I’m yet to get on first name basis with the hen family.

 

I love it here. Not just for the nature and children — but also for the lessons I learn every moment of every day. Here, time slows down. You are never really thinking (or overthinking) because there’s so much to see that you are fully existing in every moment.

 

Everybody here has their own sense of this place. For me it is this — being in the moment.

 

With every walk around campus, I see something new - a hibiscus bud, a young drumstick tree I hadn’t noticed earlier, a cluster of mushrooms, a cloud shaped like a house or a poetic cobweb. Yes, after many hours of studying the cobwebs in the loo, I have decided that the only adjective that’ll aptly define them is ‘poetic’. Don’t you agree?

 

As I write this, the sun is still hiding behind the clouds, the air smells of wet earth, the cow bells, bird calls and wind chimes are my background music. Plus a faraway loudspeaker singing praises of Mariamma.

 

I am the official chai girl. First thing every morning, I go up to the garden, pluck an assortment of herbs and make tea for everyone (karpuravalli, homavalli, lemongrass, tulsi, mint, avarampoo, nithyakalyani, guava leaves). Oh, the taste!

 

Then I sit down to write.

From my vantage, I can see an array of dancing trees, mainly coconuts and neems. It’s a good view — more encouraging than distracting. Stephen King had said that the writer’s table must always face the corner of the room. Makes sense. But this view suits me better.

 

After my 1,000 words for the day, I report for kitchen duty — washing vessels, chopping vegetables, etc. Then a bath (washing clothes AND tying saree in the bathroom — so many firsts). Then breakfast, some more kitchen work, writing, lunch, napping, reading, art and craft, spending time with the kids, maybe a ride to the town, dinner and sleep.

 

Yesterday, two girls came up to me, and said that I am their favourite person here, and gave me a hug. I haven’t stopped smiling.

 

After a decade of experimenting with different career choices, I have found my calling. Finally.

And I’m totally loving it.

 

Hope you are healthy and happy. I think of you often (whenever this place permits me to think) and I miss you lots.

 

With a tight hug,

Your daughter,

Maya

 

Enclosed is Asmita’s drawing of me and her on the tire swing. And a feather covered with kisses. Bhairu found it on our most recent forest walk. It bears her kisses as well.

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