In the heat of winter

The kids are on the trampoline, the black webbing stretched taught beneath them. The day is warm. Not hot like Bengaluru, but unseasonably warm indeed, for central France in mid-winter, and there is sunshine in my ears. The tractors are mowing, the wind-chime is blowing, the cows and sheep are lowing. What would they do? The wind-chime and the cows and the sheep? Just be. IS THE ANSWER FROM THE TREE

Aha! I have written a bit fiction here. Perhaps Akarsh, or my osmosis of his writing, has inadvertently taught me how to write fiction. For all of these things have happened today and some of them are happening now but also a few other things are happening as well that I haven’t mentioned. For example that the two youngest children are playing chess — yes chess! gods bless — at the kitchen table. And my eldest son is working with his mix table, playing some loud dance music. That kills the romance of the French countryside scene, so I shall leave that out. Wait, now I am writing nonfiction again. Shall I never escape it?

I must email Akarsh. Four days now, his reply to my email sitting in my inbox. I did not even see it amongst all the solicitations. I used to be so good at managing email, for so many years. What happened? I began writing creative nonfiction is what happened. But was it ever really nonfiction? I have given it my “angle of the moment,” meaning, every moment that I wrote of a past moment or a future moment, I was seeing that other moment through the lens of the present one. I am like a fish in the reeds, going with the flow of the water, so my lens changes all the time, with the time and with the tide. This means my nonfiction is fiction, though less romantic. If I increase the romance of the text, invite white lies into the truth, rather than failed attempts at ever-changing truth, my nonfiction shall be truly fiction and I shall be fantastically free from all bonds of reality. Akarsh will understand this. He lives in India. The river, the river is the heart of all. The women standing in it, in brightly coloured clothes, washing in it, washing clothes in it. The bodies burning on the funeral pyres. The lights and lanterns of Diwali. No that was two months ago. And that is Mumbai not Bengaluru. And the sea not the river. According to another realistic fiction writer at least, an Australian, David Foster Wallace — no, that is an American, great stream-of-thought artist who died. Gregory David Roberts, that was the one, still alive. Escaped from jail then returned some years later, to finish his sentence, of his own free will. Sentence, phase and Phrase completed. Then back to India again. Cycle regenerated, another life in progress. Death evaded through positive intra-life reincarnation, through great self-will, perhaps great self-acceptance, perhaps great faith, perhaps great love, above all. Does Bengaluru have a river?

(Camille has come outside. Turns out I lied. But not on purpose. It was not chess they were playing; they were making crafts out of paper.) Camille brings me a romantic drawing about her parents, my old/new friends. Hearts and diamond trees and their names entwined. Z has brought me another telescope made of paper. He makes me such a gift each day since I fell like an asteroid from the kitchen table. The telescope helps us see the craters on the moon. The craters which we tried to replicate the other day in flour and cocoa, as I stood on the kitchen table, hand held high above my head, near the white plaster between the oak beams of the ceiling, clasping a small white ball, aimed directly above the baking dish containing the surface and depths of the moon. Then I tripped and had a fall. I was the asteroid after all. (All of this was true. Are you?) I begin to get a funny feeling. The children are on the trampoline again. The washing machine is whirring. Third load today… and the sheets are on the line. Are they snapping in the sun? I don’t remember now, I am adding this line later, just before publishing. The children are incredibly happy. There are six of them. My four boys plus the beloved boy and girl of our neighbours. They are new/old friends. They laugh and chatter and shout in French. This is all true. But it may change at any moment.

I have become entranced with the fingers typing on the keyboard. With the sunshine in my hair as it floats in my peripheral vision. I am sitting on the terrace, the terrace laid by T, facing the southeast, facing the great linden tree. The tree and our house both face Mecca. I found that out the day he brought me the prayer mat; a precious gift, beryl blue, the colour of my necklace. From Saudi Arabia, in beryl blue with golden embroidery. It was pale golden blue like the dawn in Auvergne. I deciphered the direction of Mecca, I placed the mat under the very high roof beams that T built; I placed it facing the east, and the tree, through the window. I imagined the farmers pitching hay one century before, out of this opening that now contains glass instead of a wooden door. I learned a prayer and tried to say it. But I could not form the words. I knelt and cried instead. I was happy. Or perhaps I was sad.

I thought of the dying button flowers that were trying to grow, but I would forget to water them. Beside them the new petunias were violet-pink, a fuchsia that would enliven the soul for a season. Those would not last the winter. But always there remained the wisteria, dormant now but soon to bloom again, lavender-veined roots stretching invisible beneath the foundations of the house. The wisteria was for evermore, as was the sunshine.



This is a section of a meta(non/)fictional novella I’d begun to write 2019-02-26 while procrastinating about submitting interview questions to fellow blogger, Akarsh Jain. The interview questions have since been submitted in long and short versions (and one version of them answered); the novella so far has about 10,000 words, quite a mess however. Yesterday I revisited it for the first time. Thank you for reading, dear friends. ❤︎ Love, xo n

 p.s. you might also like: YARD WORK


6 thoughts on “In the heat of winter

  1. The rawness of your write ups make them all the more wonderful, Nadine. The fictional elements, the descriptions are all so beautiful, so well articulated.

    How you bring in Kids in our conversation and your write ups makes me feel that they are so lucky.

    I loved Shantaram by GDR. The book full of beautiful quotes. And no matter what anyone says I liked the second book as well.

    Bengaluru doesn’t have rivers, Nadine. It has lakes. A number of Lakes. And though they used to be beautiful — the way lakes are, now they are almost always on fire. Literally. The waste dumped into these lakes causes the froth on these Lake’s surface. And then Phosphorus and oil play tricks and result into fire.

    PS: The reply to my email can wait. Patience has its own pleasure.

    PPS: The longer version of the interview is still being worked on.

    Love from India…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Akarsh!!! What a beautiful, kind comment to see this morning! Thank you so very much. Means the world! I’m so happy to hear that you’ve read Shantaram and loved it…. I was wondering what you would think of it. I haven’t read the second book yet. The second half of the first was pretty intense and as I often say I’m a huge wimp… but you’ve inspired me to read it now. Amazing, to hear your description of the lakes… wow. We are very sheltered here. And very fortunate not to have burning lakes. And these are things I don’t realize often enough. Thank you so much for your stories and your writing and this lovely comment, and I will dig through that email again soon!!! Love from France. xoxoxoxo


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