My night-time trips to Patiala

Some nights I go to 45 Bank Colony, Patiala, my paternal grandparents’ house for tea. It’s my favorite house. It’s a humble and sweet mid-sized house with a metallic gate, a plaque with my grandfathers and fathers name on the outside and a little veranda with 2-4 chairs depending on the day. My grandparents like to sit on the veranda and read their newspapers and books and entertain guests here. Spring evenings are just lovely in this Patiala. Temperate, warm, beautiful, with birds and flowery plants, with colour and life.  This house is a respite and contrast from the skyscraper impersonal rush of the grey modern world which I sometimes feel is like a low-concentration poison I’m made to swallow and pretend it’s great. Time in this house stands still and there’s a charming tranquility to evenings and nights. There’s no abundance of material wealth, but there’s an abundance of time, and who really needs a ton of shiny stuff to be happy anyways? Sometimes you just need tea with your grandparents on a nice veranda in a friendly neighborhood.

Sometimes, I get the bus from Nottingham to Patiala. It takes about 30 hours to get from Nottingham to Patiala, and it’s always annoying when I think about how long it takes, but I do get there somehow without it feeling quite like 30 hours, though I know it is 30 hours. It’s also annoying how sometimes I barely make it to the bus-stop in time. The journey to Patiala is riddled with anxiety – will I find the bus stop? Will I get on the bus? Will I remember to make any changes on the way? It stops in different countries on the way. One time I missed the change in Tajikistan and have to run behind the bus with my stuff. One time I stopped to buy lamps and carpets in Azerbaijan on the way and the nearly missed the next bus. I sometimes watch the landscape with some interest – so much to explore, such a big world. But mostly I’m just restless to get to my destination, Patiala.

What a voyage
What a voyage

Anyways, I’m pleased when I get to the door of Bank colony and it’s open. I walk in and I’m so happy to see my grandparents there. Sometimes they’re both there, sometimes only one is. They’re alive! I’m ecstatic when I hug them and we hold onto each other. My grandmother used to be very ill and that’s how I remembered her from a few days/months/years before. (Time acts weird in this world so who knows how long it’s been since the last visit). But she looks well often on these trips. She talks. She is on her feet, no walker. I mean, she’s still her, she’s small and delicate, but she’s healthy. My grandparents pour me tea and get biscuits, and we sit and talk about all types of things.

Sometimes, other family members are there in the house too and I look at them and look at my grandparents and smile at them reassuringly, as if to say of course they’re alive. Everyone thought they were gone forever, but they’re here, alive and well. I smile because it confirms what I was thinking: such terrible things as death could never happen. Life would never be so cruel as to permanently separate people who love each other. It’s just hard to access them, because this house is far away but they’re always here in Bank Colony. You just have to make the effort to get here. I’m sad to leave the house. It’s really annoying I have to get back to work or to school in Boston. I sometimes fly from the International airport at Patiala and they all come to see me off. I wave sadly when that happens, and wish I could stay for longer.

….Of course, this all sounds ridiculous and it’s because it’s a dream. A recurring dream that I have every now and again. My grandmother passed away in 2008. My grandfather passed away earlier this year. Both times they broke my heart by doing so. When I wake up from these dreams, I’m left with an indescribable feeling that can only be vaguely approximately described as hope mixed with regret. And a desire to see that dream again, make that trip again.

Vadepapa in the courtyard at Bank Colony
Vadepapa in the courtyard at Bank Colony – 2014
Vademama, Me and Mummy hanging out in 1991. Good times.
Vademama, Me and Mummy hanging out in 1991. Good times.

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