When we rented this apartment, about the only 2 things we considered were the view and proximity to stores/Metro. For a whole year, however, the only view we enjoyed was while we were going about our lives and happened to glance through the window and exclaim, “Fall colours!” or “Spring!”.
Very recently, when M was refusing to sleep, we switched off the lights and turned our chairs out facing the window, and sat watching the lights of cars going by on the mountainside, of windows in the General Hospital. Silently wishing the sick people there a speedy recovery. After a couple of nights of that, we went back to our routines and didn’t revisit the view until today.
After I prepared lunch for M (butternut squash-brown rice-split green gram lentils, sauteed in olive oil and a pinch of cumin seeds), I sat waiting at the table for her to come and sit by me to eat it. She, however, had other plans. She wanted to pull this, push that. She wanted to transfer rings from one container to another and back, to the floor, into the containers, and repeat. And to come and take a bite when she remembered. Don’t ask me why she wasn’t in her high chair. A whole another story, which no, I won’t be posting here. I found myself wishing that I could take her somewhere where she’d have more interesting things to see than my face. Then perhaps she’ll stay near me. A bell went off in my mind.
I jumped up, pulled the curtains open, and put a dining chair in front of the window. Pulled a foot stool with a coaster on it to hold the food. With M perched on my lap, we watched the cars yet again. Sun’s rays reflecting off their sides. M pointing to them, saying, “Ka”. Not quite sure if she thinks the window is a “Ka” or a car is a “Ka”. No matter, she was enjoying herself too. When I made a discovery about the geography of my ‘hood.
I began pointing out city buses to her, on what I assumed was the route I take on my way back from physiotherapy at the General Hospital. Telling her stories about how I take that bus often. I soon realized that something was wrong. The only bus that plies on that route runs only once in a half hour. And it isn’t one of those 2-buses-connected-into-1 kind either. When I realized that it wasn’t the street I thought it was all this while, and it wasn’t the view of the hospital I thought it was either. It is the road that loosely translates to Border of Snow – the one I take when I go up the hill to physiotherapy. The one I took with increasing frequency to walk up the hill to my OB. The one we took to go to the hospital where M was born. It was right outside my window. Admittedly, quite some distance away. I had always wondered if I was even correct in my assumption that the building housed the GH. A certain twist in the Border of Snow across and up the hill completely escaped my mental map of what lay around my window and where. Now I know. We confirmed it later, by studying maps.
Time slowly lost meaning as we were both engrossed in observing the outside world. The buds on the trees. The shapes of the clouds. Enjoying each other’s company. Lost in our own thoughts. I couldn’t have told you how frequent those buses were at that moment, or was it an eon. Occasionally eating. I later realized that we were there for over an hour, long after she finished her lunch. I came back to time when she decided that she had had enough of the view for then.
We slowed down. We made a discovery. It may seem insignificant to others but it isn’t to us. We like to know what it is that we see when we look out of our window. And what we miss when we only look but don’t observe.