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Afternoon

If I made a list of things I miss about India, the weather would certainly not feature in it. I never loved the raw red heat of Chennai summers and now that I’m away, I miss it even less. But yet the other day, when I was talking to family back in India and I heard them complain about the ruthless afternoon sun, I realised in a bittersweet way, that it was indeed the sensation of a summer afternoon I missed most. Crisply dried laundry, lone trickle of sweat down the back, drowsy long afternoons. And this week’s Saturday poem from the Guardian captures it effortlessly well.

Afternoon

-MR Peacocke

The wool rolls down. The needless droop

A spider at the corner pane

Schemes for a pittance line by line.

The dull doves in the neighbouring wood

Call Could you do Do do You could.

A wakeless lull that's less than sleep

Brims in her eyes and palms and lap.

Something is finished. Nothing's done.

A lapse, a loss, a truce, a peace.

One lacewing trembles at the netted glass.

~

Here’s what I want from you. Your memories of summer afternoons. Be it a photo, a poem, a story or anything that to you typifies the blessed dullness of a scorching mid-day in May.

Comments

Blogeswari said…
Kap Ice -Kutchi Ice- Paal Ice..

I remember this incident frame-by-frame though it happened many many yeard ago.. 1983 or 84 May,if I remember right. My cousin K was home with his mother R manni.

That afternoon, after a heavy meal, R Manni and others were sleeping when we heard our neighbourhood Rita icecream vendor on wheels' "eii... cup ice, paal ice...eiii, cup ice, paal ice.."

Both of us very badly wanted to have kutchi ice- the white coloured icecream. We didn't have any money so decided to attack (my) appa's duttu dabbi aka piggy bank which was in the hall where everyone was fast asleep. We crawled into the hall and managed to get hold of the dabbi. Yes! We did manage to take our one rupee coin and finally bought ourselves two kutchi icecreams.. I still remember relishing the kutchi icecream more for the fact that for the first time in my life, I was not 'sharing' it with siblings / cousins and other junta, which was the usual case in our juge joint family.

As we were just about to lick the last bit remaining in the kutchi, we heard two 'thuds' - one for me from my atthai; and the other for K, from R.manni.

Though I kinda cried, both K and I were very happy at the end of the day coz I had this cheap thrill of stealing money from Dutti dabbi and buying ourselves two full kutchi creams.
shankarkotkar said…
Good effort.Keep it up.
slivers of darboos (watermelon), chunks of kirni (I don't know what it's called in English)liberally showered with sugar and left to chill in the fridge, mangoes - to be bitten in to skin and all every night juice trickling down chins and throats staining dresses and pillows, mangoes to be beaten in to milkshakes, mangoes to be made in to avakkai, mavudu and thokku, guavas, long, skinny, curly cucumbers, yelaneer, neer mor white like sea foam lapping against small floating islands of coriander, ginger and tiny black mustard seeds, panagham sweet dark and mysterious, water infused with vetiver roots left in an earthen pot, eau de cologne (yooodecalaan), sunday afternoon naps that often start mid morning, air heavy with heat, humidity and the hope that summer will not last forever.
Madura said…
Nothing important to do yesterday. Nothing waiting to be done tomorrow. Nothing to be done today. Electricity is on and off, George Clooney and Michelle Pfieffer are fantastic inbetween. It has been very windy today. Not a beach day, ocean could be rough. Lets walk down. No lets take the car. Lets walk down, see how windy. We are possibly the only crazy pots walking in afternoon sun,... But its nicely windy. Yes its nice. Some birds are singing - mid afternoon? I picked one Amul another Ideal, both Vanilla - milky white in a tiny cup, with a tiny blue spoon. We were eating from it as we were walking the remaining half the way. Have you got anything to do here? Not really - I will just google until you call me. Can I meet the kaarap boondi in your room before I go? Mail box. Dear student, dont worry about your marks, good boss will love your interest and passion. Sign out.

Google. Blog. Hello happy mothers day. No you cant wish me yet! Take care. Feet is hot under the Nike. Will I return before this Nike is rested? I will miss these afternoons. I will miss these sweet nothings. Basket ball. Carom. Then IPL - there was power cut for the third umpire :) ... Should we really go back, what is there except continuous electricity? Here there is so many nothings to do! I dont really want to go. I seem to like the taste of the tiny breeze, when the electricity is off - it feels so special, so familiar.
May 11 2008
Itchingtowrite said…
summer hols, collecting kacha mango fallen from trees, cutting using the toy knife & eating with salt
Shyam said…
My post is here: http://shyamram.blogspot.com/2008/05/iced-tea-and-scorching-sun.html

Didnt want to post the whole thing in your comment space and clog it up! :)
Anonymous said…
The single fan whirs..for some 'venduthal' we are here in this scorching town far from the reasonbly hot home-town.Bad timing. Sticky, salty sweat is pouring from the face, neck, leg and arms. But strangely I and akka are not bothered. What is more irritating is amma and appa going at each other. Yet again. We look at each other in silent agony. Lets step out for a while. They wouldnt miss us in their mutual fury. We step out and wander the deserted streets. In sad companionship..you might think. But that happens only in stories. We are hating each other, for being a spectator to the other's humiliation and guilty thought - 'I wish I was born to some other family '. How could I?? It will be years before we would come to understand and empathise. For now, a simmering anger. Some two other sisters' extend a warm smile at us from behing the gates of a house. We glower back. These 'secure','happy' kids - just rubbing our face in our insecurity and dangling in front of our eyes what could never be ours - we hated them -albeit always wistfully.
We take the longest route possible back - two teen-age boys - call out to us -' Enamma nila kayuthunu ninaippa.. matta mathiyanathula enga poreenga' - is it the moon's gentle light that makes you girls walk about this mid-noon? - if only.. if only we had known gentle moons.Our children will know but those - we vow silently to the scorching sun..
SUR NOTES said…
added my two bits(and many more) on my blog.
needed this to brighten my hot glum days!
Red Phoenix said…
Mummy its too hot. Naan innaiku poga maaten music class... OK Kanna....
Then I call my friend and say - Dai AP... Music class cut. Vaa velayada pogalaam cricket grounduku.....
AP: Veyil kolithudhu da... Parava illa va... Naan mathavangala koopuduren.....
And we all happily play in the scorching sun.... :D
neha vish said…
Of all the odes to afternoons that I have written - this one is my favourite.

Childhood red oxide floor
prints of monkey paws
here - we spilt milk, there,
the little one peed.

Cousins hold their peace
while jackfruit ripens on
trees, the stomach then
rose in waves of laughter.

Spouses wave to touch
invisible ghosts of great uncles,
moustached playmates. That
night we were so scared.

Sacred pillow tucked under
head. Remember Kaikeyi
who slept such on bare floor
causing nothing but theatrics.

To exiles were sent souls by
sleeping on red oxide floors.
Undone in five years, when we
return to claim postprandial nap
Anonymous said…
Madura....thw opwn ticket is still waiting for a date and I managed an excuse.....yet another time...too good lady
Summer holidays, cousins, staging shows for parents, uncles and aunts for Re.1 ticket, 15 member gang tearing apart movie halls, ice-creams;

After growing up CA exams :(, tension, audit and now WORK all the time.

Liked the birth story very much (I think I should also write about it now!!) and I am becoming a regular here :)
shakuni said…
Drowsy, long afternoons indeed!
When servants dozed in the backyard
In the shade of the mango tree,
When children chased cats and falling leaves
And clambered across the old red roofs,
When cane chairs in the verandah
Stared sleepily at the empty street.
Madura said…
Thanks anony .... :)

Jikku, There is something else I want to add here in the comment box ... I really couldnt stop myself from linking this poem to this blog ... Its in tamil. I totally loved it - its about a summer afternoon. More intense heat in every way. :)

http://tamilnathy.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_15.html
Zeppelin said…
-pepsi cola (those plastic tubes of frozen whatevers)
-rose-milk
-yelaneer, with vazhukkai (tender coconut)
-pazharasam (mixed fruit cocktails)
-saathukudi juice
-neer moru
-tharboos + salt + pepper / maybe juice
-kirini pazham + sugar
-rasna, sometimes.
-beach maanga (those specially cut mangoes which you get @ marina beach)
-karumbu-chaar (sugarcane juice)
-maavadu (little-mango pickle), aavakkai, maanga-injee
-cricket, 7 stones, mad-random-cycling-leading-nowhere-and-back-home
-Arubathimuvar (Kabali koil, mylapore)

cheers!
Nice idea. Mine's here:

http://themidnightspecial.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/memories-of-summer/
Bharat Rajawat said…
Good efforts u have posted and it is mibd blowing
Aarthi said…
just pasting something here, that I lazily scribbled last year -

Summer:

The rope races
and the pulley spins
dizzily,
while the bucket wobbles
like a clumsy kisser
coping,
and then finally clanging
like a resounding slap,
iron on baked earth
as the evening heat wells up.
Shin Syamalan said…
Save Sabarimala
http://swamiyesaranamayyappa.blog.com/
Morpheus said…
Ceiling fans whirring with obvious effort, cool crisp cotton sheets with a faded floral print, hard cotton pillow with a faded lgiht yellow patch in the middle. The smell of Talcum powder liberally sprinkled on skin, a warm breeze entering timidly through the window, the sounds of the trees outside. The slow, lazy, days of summer.
Sangeetha said…
This is what childhood summer reminds me of -Playing in the mid morning hot sun with siblings and cousins, then come home to some forced "thayir satham" (curd rice) by amma, and then forced to take a afternoon nap or sometimes we got to play board games insides...most exciting being "thaaya kattai" or "kal attatm" (some hand game with lots of small gravel stones) or maybe even "palankuzhi"...all this followed by ana mazing evening tiffin!
Sigh!! those were truly good old days!
White Diary said…
Summer Afternoons:

Dad would always go for his siesta and warn us not to make noise. Afternoons till today pass with us talking in whispers...
theanalogkid said…
"i love you rasna" ads and buying the 3Rs packet that serves 4 and borrowing ice from the neighbour's fridge and having a cool sip of rasna under the mango tree looking at clouds and praying for rain
vina said…
listening to the bird sing in the quiet, still, lazy afternoon. the unforgettably hilarious sight of a monkey staring at me from the skylight of the old house, the filter going drip, drip. the kids running around unmindful of the heat, playing on swings, & in the sand. soundles then, the fan whirring to a stop.yes, power cut.. walking out into the verandah to play with the kids, washing each other down with the water hose, a kid again! stealing mango pickle from a stranger's compound wall, on a dare fr my daughter, & running for life, with the jar clutched in my hands... replacing it 2 days later, once again racing back... mot a leafrustling, not a hair blowing. still, yet peaceful, humid, yet familiar. dulling familiarity, & an afternoon doze...
vina
vina said…
listening to the bird sing in the quiet, still, lazy afternoon. the unforgettably hilarious sight of a monkey staring at me from the skylight of the old house, the filter going drip, drip. the kids running around unmindful of the heat, playing on swings, & in the sand. soundles then, the fan whirring to a stop.yes, power cut.. walking out into the verandah to play with the kids, washing each other down with the water hose, a kid again! stealing mango pickle from a stranger's compound wall, on a dare fr my daughter, & running for life, with the jar clutched in my hands... replacing it 2 days later, once again racing back... mot a leafrustling, not a hair blowing. still, yet peaceful, humid, yet familiar. dulling familiarity, & an afternoon doze...
vina

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