I'm thinking of life in the hills somewhere far from this city. Far away from routine and normalcy, from the noxious fumes that assail me on the street. I fling open a window and the room sweetens with the soft cold smell of dew glistening in the sun. I'm sharing the room with two girlfriends and eating off the paper boxes the food came in, with no concern about plates or cutlery.
Actually that's not a thought, it's what I dreamed the other night and cannot shake off. The idea has taken root in my head. The dream grows till I can actually imagine the craggy peaks outside the window and see the toy-train as it chugs past.
Move to a normal morning. It starts early. Wrapped in a fog of grumpiness I rise to make breakfast and pack lunch for two errant children, self and spouse. I don't know why I do it: I have a perfectly capable maid who would do the needful but I insist on it. Maybe it's my way of shaking off the cobwebs of the night. So I rattle the pans, trim the bread and prod the girls to hurry up. In my mind I can hear the little stream bubbling its way over the rocks, the water is crystal-clear and I can taste the crispness in the air.
The newspaper and the morning chores take over somewhere and the next time I am alone with my thoughts I am in the car on the way to court. The spouse maintains his usual uncompromising silence. The driver is giving me a heart attack with his usual reckless driving and even more reckless braking. I have shut my eyes in an effort to shut out the clutch-plate that is screeching in protest and somehow hang on to my sanity. The train turns effortlessly into a tunnel even as I watch the hills turn green in the rain that suddenly falls like a thin curtain made of the finest lace.
In Court I wait my turn, for my case to be called on. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. I busy myself with boring drafts and paperwork. I am trying to shut the window on the birds cheeping as the sun bursts though the clouds and a rainbow slants over the hills heading the other way. I catch up with pending work in the Bar library after wasting an appropriate amount of time on social-networking and trying to decide on my next holiday destination. A friend calls and worries worry me. Some real, some imagined. Some of which is my business, some of which is not. I share my witticisms and add my own two bits. All the while the grass is soft underneath my feet; tiny red wild flowers wink at me through the undergrowth.
The day passes. To that magic hour when I go home and there are two girls waiting for me, their faces and buried in the computer or the Tab or the iPod. That's when the dream starts to disintegrate; that dream I had been clinging onto throughout the day. The air turns balmy, the clear skies disappear. Reality strikes and how. I am transported to a war-zone where the only sound in the rat-tat-tat of heavy machine gun-fire which sounds something like this: "Why aren't you studying?" "Who put the broadband on?" "Why is this room such a mess?""Pick your uniform off the floor!" "Move your shoes from my room!" "Hurry up, you'll be late for squash!" "Get off that phone this instant. Now!" ....The replies are sometimes shrugged, sometimes mumbled, sometimes I think everything I say fall on deaf ears.
After dinner, I finish my work for the day: I tie up the loose ends, finish whatever it was I was doing and start to feed that hungry monster: my writing. It's ten pm. The girls perk up: Hallelujah, their faces can be seen, they are not hiding behind some mechanical device! They've had dinner and done their routine, they have changed and they are on their best behavior! Are you surprised?
Obviously, they want something. Sweetly, too sweetly, they waltz up behind me and give me a hug. They linger over my table. They wait till I am distracted enough and I shoo them away. As a parting shot I hear something that sounds like "we're watching some TV, okay?" The 'okay' is just for effect, no one waits for a response. I mutter under my breath: the magical allure of TV. "One Tree Hill" to be precise. I have never watched a single episode but from whatever I have gleaned in passing through the room, I have to insist that almost-13 and almost-14 are no ages to be watching that trash! My criticisms fall on deaf ears. I bully them, I bribe them, I explain why they do not need all this additional information disbalancing their already fragile mental database. They are too involved in the idiot-box to pay any heed. With an irritated flourish I snap the TV off. More gunfire and static. They sulk and go to bed. Oh horrors! Because of me they have missed seven precious minutes of their dysfunctional story.
"Until tomorrow night," I think, as I give up on whatever I was doing and try to settle in for the night. Soon the cool mountain breeze brushes over me, I open the window and the hills are soothed in a moonlit glow, the brambles scratch my shins as I walk into the night wishing I could get lost there forever.....