This Bench follows me room to room, down the stairs and out the door. What drew Dave Bignell to capture it?
“Well I used to walk through Hyde Park every morning when I worked in London and of course every season transformed my surroundings. I think in this particular case the bench just looked lonely or somehow protected by the lamppost, like it was standing guard.
It is delicious chilly outside here in Bangalore India, welcome chilly after a humid late monsoon. I’ve been blog writing ferocious after 365 days of waiting for our youngest to heal. My mind is too preoccupied to start December decor officially at home, but this photograph last week pulled me in like lyrics of a yuletide cantata would; you thought you got its message, but nah not yet.
My Ma and Gran went at Christmas like heaven would have a heart attack if they didn’t. I’m not the high octane happy worker bees they were, not me, but this photograph from a place I’ve never been gets my attention just when energy levels are belly crawling. There I said it.
Out in my street by a bus stop, two men in the sidewalk, not 25 years old but with ancient eyes: one spits paan*, the other stares back at me. His friend looks away. They must think I’m waiting for a bus-
Life’s a bus, my Dad would say in his earlier years.
He couldn’t speak much before he went. Illness did that to him. I wish he’d stayed, but you don’t get to order these things. The 25 year olds in the pavement would understand that. Life’s not a bus Dad, its an earth in orbit going on and on. Seasons change, you and I in the beach, you laughing at me falling off the cycle, I was a hopeless learner. You were Unshakeable, you never told me I couldn’t do something if I wanted to. You never lost courage, ’twas seasons that went to winter around you. It got in you almost, like a chill season but inside you were the same person. You and I cannot really change even if I’m quieter these days of rising price, oh fixing salads with no onion, he-he what’d Gran have done with the onion mini-famine we have here? She’d grow her own veggies..
no dad its no bus: we are sitters, walkers, standing leaving arriving. Life is beautiful Dad, you didn’t want to go, who wants to die except my neighbour Mr.Alvarez and his Haiku poems on graves and sweet dying, he reads it out, smacks it out like it is candy. At Christmas Mr. Alvarez misses his two daughters in Kuala Lumpur and Greece, then he wants to hang low and not talk to his round faced wife who will not talk either. Please dear God, keep them from visiting this us this Christmas, I cannot answer questions about new lights, I like the ones we have, a few don’t work here and there but they are milestones of things we did and did not do. Alvarez has to deck his roof with lights to outshine Mars. He says so, that’s how I know. I like my life next to jacaranda trees with squirrel, our muted traffic snarls and manger clay angels with chipped nose and yes, Joseph’s (human father of Jesus) miniature clay head fallen off last Christmas: need to cello tape him back on.
At home we finish a chinese lunch, Kitsy our teenager enjoys playing chef. Jeff my husband is at a river in his easel, he paints rivers, no surprise. He’s from hilly river running Coorg district south of India. Dia and Joh are a few kms away getting the sun. No more seizures for Joh hopefully, but the aggressive side effects of his meds have us running circles to work his chi & chu, or whatever energies are called. Li my sis called last night, she doesn’t feel like Christmas with Dad and Ma gone, she cannot decorate for carolers, her knee hurts. How are you Ray? Just back from a village visit with her carol crew, Li is a village doc. She reminds me of Dad, and Ma in bits. Thel, eldest sis is like her own self + added fizz over the years. Me I’m growing more like my kids, picking their vocabulary and shoulder shrug. Rolling of eyes in particular is liberating but on my generation it looks rude; they get away with it. We hang in together, Haha like parked lampposts and bench, and tree. In season and out.
This Bench. It is park furniture. All the stories and footprints and winters that have gone by haven’t moved it. It is untransformed, though a little worn, yes?
Christmas isn’t the nicest time for those who have lost a loved one, or lost heart; for those feel alone it is easily a time of more than they can bear. I’m thinking about the quality of not being moved. I’m thinking of that Lamp post, the Tree and Bench all there like friends.
I guess December is that time we could spin stories out of threadbare sack cloth but I’m feeling the right to not be moved and it’s a heart strengthening feeling.
I’m thinking on something I read about: that Unshakeable Kingdom we all have for the asking; that secret place deep inside where the Love of God stands by us like a Light in a storm. That storm ravaged place where we’re parked? It can feel cold and uninviting, or it can create whole new perspective: Strength that waits out the winter. I’m the bench, the lamppost, the trees; sometimes I’m the snow…
*paan- betel leaf.