Sunday, December 9, 2012

Love, from a distance

She does not know me. She does not know that I exist. When I turn up at the door, I am shoo'ed away. I am an architect, I plead. I lean towards her and say quietly: "Your architect...remember?" hoping that would ring a bell. But she can't listen. She just cannot. Who can know the architect? So I meekly turn away.

This is my story. Somebody may talk about this someday. I now know how it is to love someone from a distance. Unrequited love.

I have seen her grow up over the years. I remember the very simple beginnings. She was a bare piece of earth: Forgotten and trampled upon. Not really aware of the lives that lay dormant inside her. "Mother earth": that is what she was. Even then I knew, kind of intuitively, how important she would be to the children's lives.

I nurtured her. Or I thought I was nurturing her. Some of the nurturing was quietly meditative. Some was boisterous and had all the anger of a passionate architect, in the throes of creative upheavals. I finally managed to lift her up from her misery on the ground, and there she is now: Resplendently contributing to the world. Possibly words fail her, memories too fail her and she possibly can't express what I feel. Maybe she does have something to say but haven't got the clue how or why.

Then ... just as I had predicted, the children came and gathered into her bosom. I was taken aback by the speed at which they came in. One after another. I happily sighed seeing growth happening.

I admire the chatter of children around her. I hear that and I respect that. I feel I have contributed to their lives too but others don't think so. They think I talk too much about her, and yet they wonder why she does not tell anything anything about me. They think I am taking all the credit and can't fathom how I can do that at all.

I had worked quite a lot for her. She possibly does not know or possibly think that I don't care. Possibly, she thinks that I am not grateful. But she had helped me setup my house. And I am ever grateful.

She has now aged gracefully. She still looks more or less the way she had looked when she settled down in these parts. Maybe a streak here and a wrinkle there but nothing much more. I am kind of proud of her. I am also proud of what I contributed, though for some reason I am not part of her now.

So, I finally wrote this. Beatles had expressed it aptly: "Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither as they pass. They slip away, across the universe"

Oh. I think I did not tell you who she is.


She is Vighnahar, a large housing society that I designed many years back in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, India. My residence is in the very adjacent colony next to Vighnahar and as luck would have it, my bedroom overlooks her. A very serendipitous twist of destiny. It was from her fees, I could buy this residence where I now stay. This colony was also by the same builder. Though I was not the architect for this one, the builder allowed some financial jugglery. I am truly grateful to her.

When I was placing an air-conditioner in my bedroom, something prevented me from installing it into the only window on that wall overlooking Vighnahar. Instead I broke open another opening in the wall for the AC. I was curious to know how Vighnahar would grow.

I had designed a large garden nestled within 9 buildings. To nurture the children who I knew who would come. And for the old who take their walks quietly comfortable seeing the kids playing safely. I was acutely aware of the 222 families who would settle down into her bosom. Their heart beats. Their songs. Their laughter. Their tears. Their upheavals. Their fears.

I hear the chatter of her children through that window every day. It comforts me. Like little sparrows twittering.

I sometimes see activities happening in that garden; the way I had predicted: The top of the under-ground water tank being used as a stage for some colony function. I was beaming from four floors up, in the next colony: I had prepared that water tank for the children when I designed her. But obviously, nobody saw me. Humility is sometimes forced upon arrogant architects as life happens all around.

Sometimes when I take a walk around, I stop at the gates. The same one I had designed. I get shooed away. They maybe taken aback by the sight of this decrepit and dishevelled chap peering in. It feels like a scene from Guru Dutt's Pyasa. So I come back and admire her from my bedroom. Love from a distance.

She has indeed aged gracefully. A couple of years back, they replastered it entirely and I was on my toes to see what colours they will put up. To my pleasant surprise, they repainted her exactly in the same colour scheme as before. I was pleased as a plum. A few wrinkles here and there, but nothing much more. Everyone knows her. She is an important landmark in Nerul.

I will keep the window open and hope to continue to see her from there. At least that way, I can pretend that I am Shah Jahan and outside is my Taj Mahal… I hope the world will at least permit an old architect think about his love in that fashion. I hope the world will understand … one day… one day… one day