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13 April 2011


Sometimes, in the dark, you dance with Angels

Blue vase and roomby Rayla Noel

There was this drum stick tree in the back yard and my sisters tying hammocks in the casurina in front of our home...such white sand, Gopalpur on sea, stark white like you'd washed it. With sunlight.

Dad came home that noon with diesel oil in his strong brown fingers. To this day he reminds me of Denzel Washington. Hmm I love Denzel W for his own self but this was years ago when DW himself was maybe in school, and so was I.

My yellow pug nosed bus that coughed like an old bull and kicked like a donkey. They wouldnt let women in first. Bad luck, like owls and black cats all under one ladder was a woman that stepped into a bus before a man could. It was Orissa, the 70s, interior.

They let me in though - I was a Chokri (little girl - child)! A neither human, like an elf. Or a Leaf :) I so remember myself. Browned to the burn. Squinting up at Dharma the bus conductor.

If you saw him with anything but my eyes, you'd worry. Massive lower jaw and crinkled in eyes / close blue black curls rich with mustard oil ; they sprang upwards over oblong temples,. His arms hung like giant hooks on either side of a torso that defies description to this day. No, you didnt want to mess with Dharma.

I adored him. He reserved the seat next to his, for me. I was seven years old and it was an hours ride to Berhampur ( east coast of India/ famed for her Konarak Sun Temple and outrageously beautiful sunrises )

We 'd reach at 7.20 am before the School bell yelled. Dharma would lunge me over and out, as the school gates whanged shut. To this day am scared of road crossings, cuz Dharma was a jet plane over lesser things like rickshaws and buses.

I thought of that this morning as our teenager crashed out the door to summer music school ,and that son of ours said, "Ma, I'm going to learn how to ride a bike too so I can go to school myself from June..." No cares that he cannot see.

"Whats the problem here?" He's asking through a Silence that steadily fills the space between his ears and my mouth. I have no answer to many questions, not just my sons'.

Sometimes when the Power fails and the sky is that intense midnight black you see in nights here aroun d the equator, strange dimensions meet the eye.

If you ve been there you'll know. A friend of ours who later became a Music Moghul in the Industry once said , " How do we know there aren't other Things looking at us, right here right now? Both good and not so good?"

We were in the middle of some nice eastern food, one cool night. I remember thinking it was a good time to talk that way because Tim Mathews here was out on a leg with the last of his savings and a prayer.

We went on to talk about Angels and Demons and strangers appearing out of nowhere to be nice to you, vanishing like they had never been there, but you knew you had just experienced help of an unusual sort.

I had just had an offer to be Technical writer from an Industrial Company in Worli, Mumbai , but wanted more than a desk job.

There were things that happened. Illness and healing. Sometimes a little smile in an unusual place. A warm hand in the Scan room where chill can rinse your bone !

I used to think angels had long white starched cotton dresses with fur trimmed wings.

Uh uh. Sometimes they're the smile of a quiet child with a "handicap" a special ability to make me peer right into the dark.

Who knows what you might see...there, there. And yes, even...there! Hey when you 're staring into the dark, you could be startled .

Resolution for today - Dont forget to use my seven year old eyes. (Love you Dharma my bus conductor - thank you for helping me cross that street...and maybe a few other Minefields!)

This picture here is Johann, with his dog and Oil Painting - Blue Vase, RN

© Rayla Noel

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