Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

Sea-facing Flat

Photo by Giovanni Calia on Pexels.com
Mother’s small but specific dreams
dictated her new-home choices,
budget featured prominently in her vocabulary.
Dreaming of moving from our rented flat
to an ownership flat
Ownership became the buzzword
No compromising on requirements
No settling for less.
She had an unyielding list.
if such a flat was not available
She would not move
it was as simple as that.
She said I was a stubborn child
She didn’t tell me where I got that from?

The lift (we used the British word) in our old building
belonged to a different century
The whole building trembled
like an earthquake
Shuddering and hurtling up and down
From floor to floor
The lift was too close to the kitchen
It made the curry wobble on the stove
The eggs flipped by themselves in the pan
It rattled mother’s nerves.
Mother wanted a ground floor flat
No lift necessary.
I always took the stairs
when visiting friends
The fear of getting stuck
In limbo between floors.
The pandemic has done that
Placed us in limbo
I’m still ‘floating’ between worlds
I hear the tremors of the old lift
I could avoid the lift, not the pandemic.

Mother’s new flat should be sea-facing
(even the sea seemed to agree)
Plenty of light entering the rooms
at the right angles,
The light must bow to her demands
Something about mother
made the elements obey her wishes.
Her list continues:
two washrooms, running water,
in a quiet neighborhood
(quiet Bombay, an oxymoron!)
where the night watchman did not
beat his stick to disturb her sleep
in the name of scaring away the thief.

If she didn’t find the right flat
She would dig her heels in
Stay where she was
where she could hear the sea, smell the sea
Now she wanted to see the sea
Not the road and the Bombay traffic.

The garden could not be left out
from her list. In the old flat
It was where she lived her inner life, outside.
I want to go flat hunting with mother
Can’t do that now, she has made her home elsewhere.

There are bright lights where she is
She might need sunglasses.