Poor, poor Ro.
After three hard months of touring the country, selling their wares and entertaining with songs, today she is finally home. Alas, mayhem awaits her homecoming. She shakes her head in disbelief. The house, a shamble! Her precious kitchen, ransacked!
O no! she cried , eyes brimming with unshed tears as she found almost 2 dozens of her favourite crockery, broken and scattered around the kitchen floor.
Drunks! Damn them! she hisses as she sees just as many empty and already dirty bottles strewn everywhere. I am going to kill them! With every single one of these bottles! I'll break them like I am in a bar fight, jab, jab, jab! she says , stabbing into the air as she starts to weep.
Where is everybody, anyway? I must find Papa OM or W, she muttered as she hurriedly walked out towards the back of her house.
And so it is in this state of agitation that Ro is confronted with a most unusual sight. Right at the corner of the house, the weirdest of tree has grown to almost as tall as her home. Ro has never seen this tree before and wonders how in the world it has grown so fast with a full head of the greenest leaves. Right here in the middle of a Rajasthani desert? In three months? Then she sees something blue and orange moves, right up there...She quickly finds the pair of ladder built by OM and starts to climb.
This is the picture that greets her when she reaches the top. A pair of the sweetest white rumped Shama have apparently found their home in this tree and they are clearly in love! Awwwww, Ro lets out an audible sigh and it is at that moment that the female bird (she has the shorter tail), looks up into Ro's eyes as if to say, don't worry , my dear, all will be well. And with that, Ro felt like a load was lifted off her chest.
And as she climbs back down, a chatty monkey is just on his way up. He stops when he sees Ro and the funniest thing happens. Ro swears she can hear him say Hello! Ha ha ha! Ro throws back her head and laughs for a full five minutes. Hearty and heartfelt , the laughter brings Ro a sense of empowerment. Not only is everything going to be alright, Ro knows then that she is the one who will make it so.
You are both wonderful and weird, Ro says to the tree when she is finally down on the ground again. Look at how you are leaning with your tallest branches growing sideways. They are like a pair of outstretched hands, at once providing a nice shade for the people below and shelter for the animals on top. I shall be like you, Tree, and start fixing everything so that my home can be the shade and shelter that we have meant it to be.
Now, Let me start with something easy and relaxing. How about if I paint the front of the house? And so Ro goes about painting the front of the house.
Then I shall line all my broken crockery along the shelves like they are antiquities in a museum. And so Ro does so with as much care as she can muster, each piece resting in a special place above the respective windows.
True enough, centuries later, these chipped and broken pottery becomes the priceless treasure that Ro has envisioned them to be and can now be viewed in Singapore, free of charge.
In the same spirit of turning trash to treasure, Ro starts to see the art in the discarded bottles as well. Look at the special way these are made. How the neck is short and the mouth is narrow. A very clever way to prevent early evaporation of moonshine that is a crazy 100% alcohol! I bet if I clean them, they will make the prettiest coloured glass bottles. It will be silly to throw them out or use them as weapons. And so Ro lines these up too on the window ledge with a broken jar of desert flowers in their midst. And when she runs of space on this ledge...
...she carries on with the other one, not forgetting the flowers of course , this time on a split piece of old log.
The old hurricane lamp and the family's water bag, made by the finest tanner, are found crushed and dirtied in a sorry corner. After Ro hangs them back up in their proper place, they now don't look so bad, don't you think?
And as Ro works, she notices OM's fishing basket sitting outside the door. She smiles as she realises that there will be fresh fishes for dinner tonight.
Very fresh fishes indeed, as the fishing trap is still wet and muddy from its recent trip to the river. She remembers how OM has painstakingly made this trap so that there is another means to get food on the table.
What a pair they make! As if they are a Match made in heaven, just like the 2 birds. Love is in the air, sings Ro merrily, whistling and skipping to the music in her head.
And speaking of dinner, I hope the communal cooking pots are still here. Sure enough, there they are as she finds them sitting in their usual place at the other side of the house. Nothing can go wrong now..lalalalala
Alright, we are almost done, except for this brown patch at the front of the house. How nice if I can build a lotus pond here. ...
And so she closes her eyes and starts to imagine the most beautiful lotus pond
and when she opens her eyes, she knows exactly where she will build this pond.
Just one last thing ? Should I change the beaded toran hanging from the top window? Ro asks herself..I think not. I like the faded look now instead of the gawdy gold before. And as Ro admires her shabby toran, she realises that inside each mango leaf is a little tree of life! This is a sign , she says, my toran will stay here forever. Little does she know that her resolution made this day will soon spark a world wide craze for the Shabby Chic Look.
And as Ro surveys the results of her day long efforts, she acknowledges that the house is finally coming together and may arguably look better than before. Yes, even the old valances seem to brighten up today, just like a pair of glitter lashes over sultry eyes.
Just then a sliver of a moon appears in the completely black sky. And Ro sees that the house, basking softly in the pale moonlight really does look better.
One thing is for sure, it definitely feels like a home again.
A Special Acknowledgement
Sometime in June this year, Glenda and I decided to do a swap. Glenda has requested for a a pair of my embroidered dancing shoes and had asked me what I wanted. I knew I was in luck because Glenda is truly a magician with leather, amongst her many other skills. I showed her a picture of a water carrier and asked if she could make me a leather water bag. She said she would try. This is what she gave me.
And all she had to rely on was this picture . I am sure you will agree with me that the likeness is astounding.The bag was in pristine condition when I received it on 8th July 2010 .I had to dirty it for my purpose. I hope I did not break your heart , Glenda.
As far as I am concerned, what I gave her cannot compare with this bag alone but Glenda, with her usual generosity, not only gave me this bag, she also gave me her famous rush mats (I used in the living room) , some glass bottles (will be in the kitchen) and my now favourite scarf. You can see the scarf here.
Thank you Glenda, this bag will always be one of my most treasured minis.
Further thanks :
to Cindy who made the crockery from air dry clay. All chips and cracks are solely attributable to me, except the broken jar for the desert flowers. That's hers. I also painted them.
to Kristy who suggested that we can use Christmas light bulbs for bottles
to Jayne whom I had commissioned last year to make the most beautiful lotus pond
to Publilius Syrus, who despite his unfortunate name, gave us the famous saying in the 1st Century BC : A fair exterior is a silent recommendation
to Qesha, my 8 year old niece who found a bunch of flowers left behind by someone in a forgotten chair and who then decided these flowers were perfect for me when she greeted me at Gate 31 on my return from Sri Lanka. The desert flowers are from this bunch of flowers.
and last but not least,
to Rosanna for all her encouragement and for being the inspiration behind this story. All the boring parts are solely attributable to me.
Other things attributable to me,
Tree- improved over the years by me adding real moss from my garden every 6 months
Love birds- bought handmade styrofoam birds from Bangkok which I painted to look like white rumped Shama
Fishing Trap- made using the ever versatile shuttlecock , glue for water effect on floor (you did notice that?) and laquer and glue for the trap's wet look
Toran- bought from a shop in Little India selling prayer items, it was gold but has since been aged by me
Communal pots- Daiso S$2 a piece , painted by me
O yes, I also painted the front of the house of course.
Monkey is an old plastic toy and the fishing basket was bought in Little India.
And Alison, if you are reading this and have come this far, what do you think of the fishing basket? As far as I am concerned , it is the work of a master even though they are commonly sold for peanuts.
And FINALLY, (I really mean it this time) a big thank you to all my friends who always read my posts and share with me their thoughts . May Love always be in the air for you.