Selling The House

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Recently, while online, the sibling suddenly pops up on chat and says “We’re selling the house!”
Overcome with surprise and an unexpected sense of outrage I call the mother and say, WHAT! And she says they’re considering it, because the house is old and beginning to crack, but the decision hasn’t been made yet.

Selling the house!
I never properly realized how attached I am to the house till the possibility of it being sold off arose. How can you sell the house! You can’t! NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

That garden… so many times during my years growing up, I’ve consulted the cool grass and the wild tree canopy and the sky over it, whenever I needed some serious me-time. And so many of my darling cats (and once, even a rabbit) have hopped around those green bushes and orange flowers, in a game of hide and seek with me. I love how, no matter how my mother tried to tame it, the garden would grow itself back into the wrangle of a jungle it always was.
The paved part of the garden had squares engraved in it already, and I would use it for hopscotch. And some days, when it was raining so heavy that no one was out there, I would go dance on the squares like mad.

My bedroom! The walls, layered with so many levels of paint. Once in tenth grade, I came home to find – much to my horror – that my mother had had the walls painted in that horrible medicine-tablet cream colour (I hate colours like cream and grey, I like solids!), and spontaneously mad as I’ve always been, I ordered the baasunai to go fetch a bucket of black paint. Giggling all the way at this adolescent’s adolescent-ey randomness, he got me the paint, and I painted over the cream wall – a lovely abstract silhouette of a tree, branches reaching to the ceiling surrounded by a few birds. Later, the maid told me, that he had looked at the tree and said, “You know, at first I was sure that girl was mad, but this tree is quite pretty!”
Years later that wall was painted a nice red. Once, my classmates and I got back from the beach, sand lining the sides of the bathroom floor and the sheets of the bed, and then we suddenly decided to paint our palms in bright Fevicryl shades and press them over the red wall. On another day, I was just bored, so I painted a big purple and black circle on one side of the wall. Some days I would wonder how cool it would be if I got up and pushed the circle and it would suck me into an alternate universe.
Once rain water seeped into to the wall and made a blotch on one corner of the room. I always thought the blotch looked like Michael Jackson.

The living room, where we all came out of our own little quarters to meet. Where my cousins and aunts and uncles and I would laugh in a circle around the coffee table. Where the TV would play all the cartoons of my childhood, and the stereo would play music from Raj Kapoor movies and Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong from dad’s CDs. Where so many fights have been had, some small ones over the remote or the food, and others, epic. Where we had meals together; the smell of samosas and kanji at the table during Ramadan; where I would sit upside down on the sofa till I got dizzy, and pace round and round the dining table while on the phone, and spread out my canvas in front of the TV and paint on it, and yell ‘Thay-thanni!’ (tea!) at the maid, while watching Channel News Asia after classes. Where the chandelier came loose and crashed to the ground one stormy night, where candles were lit up when the lights went out, where I came to check myself in the mirror because the living-room mirror just showed things differently than the bedroom-one.

My parents’ bedroom was a place I would go to for the air-conditioning, for the bed that seemed more comfortable than the others in the house, for my mother when I was sick or scared of ghosts. The bathroom! Where I would grab the shampoo bottle and sing at the top of my lungs. Where once as a child, after watching a movie suggestive of this, thought secret spies were watching us shower. Where I went to sit on the closed toilet seat, when the rest of the house was too noisy. Where cockroaches made me jump and yell for cavalry. Where I made patterns in my head from the water trickling over the tiny square tiles on the floor.

The house has too many dirty footprints on its walls, and memories of drinks spilling over tables, of fabric paint stains on the sofas, of sandy sandals strewn over the veranda entrance, of laughter and shouting and hush-hush talk and music bouncing off the ceiling. It has witnessed too much, for me to let it go to someone else. The garden grass has too often been my comfort, the floors have too often been rubbing off red polish on my heels for my feet to get used to it not doing so, the cool white walls have too much tolerated my lazy leaning and angry kicking and art-paint desecration for me to get accustomed to a new recipient. So I don’t want to sell the house, because although its going away can’t take with it my memories, I’m not done! I’m not done running outside to the paved squares for some peace of mind, and I’m not done jumping on my spring mattress and watching the blotches on the wall change shape in my head, and I’m not done hopping an even number on the kitchen floor tiles or putting my feet up on the coffee table and reminiscing about how the scratches on the sofa had got there when my cat from such and such a year had once lived here. So we’re not selling the house, okay? Not till I’m done.

  1. St. Fallen says:

    I’m still nostalgic over the house I first grew up in on Charles Place (near the Dehiwela Cargills) even though it was just the first 8 years of my life, I suppose it had an impact on me for that reason. Though now it looks nothing like before cause the new owners have pimped it out with an electric gate and whatnot. I remember the big gauva tree, we had a full size swing in the front. It was a tiny house with just three rooms, it wouldn’t have been enough for all of us but I keep wishing I could go back to it. I always think of it whenever I come across araucaria, columnaris I think in particular. Those strange trees that kind of resemble christmas trees. It grew taller than the roof by the time we moved and we couldn’t take it with us.

  2. Jack Point says:

    Its not just the house, its the memories it contains.

    Very nice post.

  3. Santhoshi says:

    Love the post! It made me think and miss my old house..

  4. Chavie says:

    You’ve written this beautifully.

    Hope the family decides to stay put. 🙂 (I know you will make it so 😉 )

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