3rd excerpt - Start of the first chapter
|He entered the fields of his home, barefoot. It looked funny to Madhavi chechi. This guy in fancy clothes walking barefoot in the slushy mud of the paddy field.
But to Aditya, it was homecoming! He was only enacting a dream that he had relived many times in many places for many years. The only regret that he had at this point was that he had thought of removing his shoes before walking in the mud. Even in a gesture so liberating, he had managed to destroy its spontaneity. With the rain coming down in waves, (it was the Malayalam month of Karkidakam) Aditya, completely drenched, continued his walk. He wanted the mud to get into his toe nails. He wanted it to get into the space between his toes, all over his feet.
He sat down in the mud in his Van Heusen trousers and refused to think. He was enjoying the bliss of a mind empty of thoughts.
Susheela was rushing around. She knew that she should be busy and that she had a lot of work. Her son had come home after a long time. She tried to quantify the ‘long time’. Was it a year? Was it two years? She couldn’t do it but she knew that it had been longer than usual.
She sat on the dining chair to think about her next task. It struck her that she had no idea about Aditya’s likes any longer. She was digging into her memories of his childhood to come up with the things that he liked. But Aditya had changed and for many years now, she had been catering to Adi, the child in her memories. Brushing aside her thoughts, she called to Madhavi chechi to set the table for lunch.
The smell of rain and mud came into the house with Aditya. He went into his room and changed. He washed himself and came straight to the dining table. The long walk had made him hungry. He saw the avial, the pappadam, the curd and the rice. He glanced at his mother and wondered how she could predict his likes so uncannily even now, after all these years. His thoughts went back to the many lunches he had had with his friends in different restaurants around the world. He had often been surprised about how opinions varied about the same dish in a meal. He had analyzed this over a period of time and had come to a conclusion. The closer the taste of a dish was to one’s childhood memories of it, the better it tasted. He had gone forward from there and concluded that a person always compares the taste of a dish to his mother’s way of making it. The closer a dish came to that taste, the tastier it was. Consequently, there was nothing like a universally tasty dish (He still had to work out how Pizza fitted into this).
The meal over, Aditya shifted to his father’s armchair. He looked at the electric ceiling fan above his head and immediately ordered his mind to think of something else. He did not want the palm reed fans to come into his thoughts again. He did not want to experience the tears that welled up somewhere deep inside and came up to his eyes like a fountain. He did not want to think of Satyan. He did not want to experience the pain again.