i used to be 9. nine. i was made to wear frocks that ended somewhere between my knees and my feet. and they had sleeves made of net, and were mostly red. my hair used to be short, like that of a boy. sometimes it used to grow in wild curls below my shoulders before being mercilessly cropped again. i used to play with dolls. rather, i used to live with them. i talked to trees. stare at the sky, sometimes blue sometimes black. i used to be scared of ghosts. my house had elaborate beds, they had designs cut out on them, i used to look through them, you know i am failing at explaining this to you. it is beyond my words now.
there would be places on the dressing table that has smudges of wax, remnants of a burnt candle, i used to play with. and in the monsoons, the muddy roads used to give way and form puddles i had to jump across. paper boats, i loved making them, i used to fill them with petals before leaving them afloat. one such day in the middle of monsoon, we were to see a certain girl. yes, with the intention of marriage, for an uncle of mine.
and monsoons also were treacherous. when the incessant rain stopped for a while, it got so sunny that you sweat, but the puddles din't dry up. it used to be hot and wet, both. we set out, all of us, grannys, aunts, dozens of cousins, packed in a smoky old white ambassador, to see the girl. the first gust of smoke from the rickety vehicle would arouse my ever dormant nausea, make my head go round and round. they would make me sit on someone's lap near the window of the car, so that i could take in all the breeze and keep all the vomit inside.
so i started talking to myself again, and also to the trees i saw, like i always did. the road was a straight one, by the side of a canal, that was brimming full of muddy rain water. everywhere there was lush green, the smell of waiting rain the air. and there were trees everywhere, the kinds i had never seen, banyans over hundred years old, with pronounced aerial roots, i couldn't tell which one was the real one. in the midst of journey, the mighty old ambassador would have to screech to a halt, because one of the babies had to pee.
it was an afternoon, herds of cattle were being led back home, on the way. we were headed to see the girl. somewhere in her purse, grandmother hid an ancestral ring of gold which she would slide up the girl's middle finger, is she seemed to like her. i wondered what the ring looked like, whether it had red stones on it.
the first thing i did after i saw the girl, was to never leave her side. and i said aloud to everyone, look, she has such long hair.
note to the reader: writing a post like this is difficult for me because it is difficult trying to get the perfect words to paint the picture i want to. i wrote this because i wanted to. i don't know how well i could recreate that bygone time.