Life is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. Even for the dullest and non-interested people, it does carry on at their own pace. I for one, do have a zinging life. With a 5 year old non stop chatterer, husband, chores of the house, friends, cooking, loafing, I really have my hands full – and honestly, I like it that way. I like life to be full-on. But amidst all this self created busy schedule, what I really love to have, are some moments of peace and solace.
Now sometimes, people ask me – you and peace! Why??? Yes I love the way my life is, and I love being choc-a-block full with things I like to do and people I like to meet, and chores I like doing (and even things I don’t like doing!) , but still I need air to breathe and peace that holds me still, not just my body but my soul too. And I am quite certain, we all have our own ways of achieving that kind of peace.
When I was in Delhi, the Gol Dak Khana Chathederal Church was my to go place. Just climbing up the small stairs and looking up at the high statue of Jesus in the sky would begin the descent of peace on me, and as I moved into the church, the sound of serenity would find a place somewhere inside me, beckoning me to one of the most secret-est of pews hidden behind a pillar or tucked in one corner. I would really loose myself somewhere in the hollow of the dome, and hushed steps of a few people like me, searching for God, or maybe searching for themselves.
After my Dad passed away, my secret space would be the Daryaganj Cemetery. I didn’t tell everyone, for the fear of being counted crazy, but a very close few who knew me and would be agreeable and understanding. Some would ask me if I was not afraid to go and sit with the dead? Honestly, I wasn’t. I have always feared cemeteries all my life. I was even scared to pass by one, as visions of some lost soul would cross my mind inevitably. But my Dad’s death took that fear away. I always felt that he would oversee me and ensure no lost soul bothered me. I know it was stupid, because really there was nobody there at all, but a reassurance that loved ones slept there peacefully. Whenever, my soul was heavy with the unknown, I would drive down all the way to Daryaganj and just sit by his grave, wiping away the dry twigs and leaves, trying to keep the flame of the candles in vain, because its always so windy there, and laying down his favourite rajnigandha flowers somewhere near his feet. I would just sit around somewhere on the mud and talk to him, telling him all that was happening, and when my heart felt light, I would kiss him goodbye and walk away. I would hardly tell anybody of my secret visits, because really, I didn’t want to hear discouraging stuff, and I just felt I didn’t have to tell anybody. I really, really miss going there. Going there always made me feel that he’s around, or that I just met him, but now I feel very far away.
After my mom too left Delhi, I was miserable thinking that nobody was there to clean up his stone and he must be lying in a unclean and unattended tomb. When my heart was burdened with the thought I would ask friends to go and have the stone cleaned up, but now I feel its not right to bother someone with my burdens, and I somehow have made peace with the fact that it doesn’t need cleaning up any more. I would satisfy myself with some really gracious friends who would go down without my asking and do it for me, and send me pictures. Cannot describe in words my thankfulness to them.
When we moved to Nairobi, I happened to pass by a small chapel, the gates of which I never saw open. It was near my house and I had come across is during my many hunts of being familiar with the locality I am staying in. I always love exploring places and finding out a secret shop somewhere nearby with knick-kancks, or a hidden grocery shop, or a quiet salon. Its kind of an adventure in itself, if you know what I mean. I mean, have you really tried moving out on foot, or even on car and just trying out new routes, or stopping to watch the beautiful house a few lanes from yours. Nairobi is a beautiful city, and I really loved the houses there, walls strewn with shocking pink and orange bougainvillea and covered in moss green creepers, dotted with tiny flowers. Ooohh, I just loved the houses there, and I found each one much prettier than the other. I particularly loved a stone tiled house which had a small balcony covered with flowers. The house was small, I mean, it wasn’t one of those palatial one’s, but a decent sized house. I loved the dark green-grey tiles and the wall covered in creepers, and the balcony laced with multicoloured flowers was breathtaking. Once too often, I have imagined myself standing in that balcony with a cup of tea in my hands, enjoying the lovely mellow cool atmosphere of Nairobi, laced with the gentle smell of flowers, and watching the world pass by………..
Ok, I guess I wandered too far away. Let me get back to the chapel I was talking about.
So, there was this chapel that I had always passed by, the doors were always closed, and I somehow found it strange because I had rarely seen church doors being closed. I was inquisitive, and one day, I gave into my inquisitiveness and gave into it, thankfully so. There was not a soul in the compound. The church was not big, and probably that’s why it was a Chapel. A huge black Labrador came running towards me, but I could see he was harmless. A little petting and he was my friend for future. I tried to push the front door, but it didn’t budge. I wasn’t giving up – was I ? So I walked by the side and saw that there was another door, and lucky me, it gave in to the push. It was almost noon, and what my eyes met with was strikingly beautiful. The inside of the small chapel glowed with the warmth seeping in from the stained glass windows, which almost ran through the entire length of the wall. The wooden flooring which is so typical to Nairobi architecture, along with the wooden pews added to the coziness of the place. I cannot explain how it looked like, almost as if I had entered the inside of a kaleidoscope. It was a secret haven of peace. I fell in love with the place instantly and went inside and just sat there pouring my heart out to God. I was so certain that he was just there, sitting right next to me.
It became my to go place, almost every other day. I would just go and sit there, and pray, sometimes just sit blank and think nothing, but it gave me a wonderful solitary time. Time to be with just myself and God. Oh, and of course the Lab became my friend. I would always remember to get something for him to chomp on. Honestly, till I left, I never saw a soul in the compound of the church.
Its been one of my most beautiful experiences sitting in that small Chapel. I have had many revelations and made many confessions in my heart.
In Dar, I have missed a place like this. Somehow, I have never come across anything like that, or even remotely close. Whenever I drive by the sea, it beckons offering waves of peace. But somehow, I have never had the confidence to park my car somewhere there and sit by the sea and experience its gurgling. The lack of safety would never me concentrate on my thoughts. My kitchen balcony offered a great view of the Morogoro Hills, and I always loved to watch sun disappear into them like a ball of fire being eaten up the dark hills, leaving a turmoil of colours in the sky, screaming its presence. But it always was accompanied by the loud horns from the road, which though were far below, but always interrupted my peace, and now the construction work has ensured that I hardly stand in that balcony and look out. Its sad. I however like to wake up really early and look out to the rising sun, spreading its light over the tall buildings and the amalgamation of the sea and sky far beyond, or peep into the still of the night, like at this time, when all I can see is the vast expanse of the darkness of the sea, speckled with shimmering lights from the decked ships. If I look upto the skies I can see fleeting fluffy cottony clouds that cast an eerie light all over. I love to watch the floating fluffy clouds being carried away so quickly by the winds, as if they need to reach a destination. I wonder what happens to them or where they are headed to?
I still am on the lookout for my haven of peace in Dar. If anyone knows something that suits my tastes. I’d be happy to go and give it a try.