It’s still too early for the glow I’m looking for. But in the coolness before full sunrise, the air itself is green, cloaked with the washed-clean fragrance of our trees. I place the jar of biscuits on the balcony table, arrange the book and the phone and the ashtray, draw back the chair and freeze in sudden realisation.
I am becoming my father.
This is exactly what he does when he’s here. The deliberate arrangement of things on the table, placing the chair at a precise angle, one ankle hooked over the opposite knee as he waits for his tea. I’m even drinking tea these days instead of my usual dark fresh-brew. But my father drinks Darjeeling, just so. Not thick milky pau patti.
And he has never in his life worn psychedelic parachute-silk boxers.
On one branch of my krishnachura, the bark has acquired a metallic sheen, more bronze than gold. The sun is breaking free of the horizon’s haze. Seven shades of green come to life over the balcony railing. A tiny bird flutters out of the champa tree, confused by a falling leaf. The sunlight is papery, wrapping itself round the first wisps of smoke from the laundryman’s earthen stove in the next lane. The morning smells fresher, yet more languid than the soggy bouquet of the monsoons. Autumn in Calcutta.
The climbing sun glints into my eyes, batters on the morning coolness, warms my neck until a slow trickle of sweat signals the end of dawn. A bicycle bell drops into the pool of birdsong, I can almost see its ripples in slow motion. Then a rolled-up cylinder of newspapers arcs onto the balcony and lands with a satisfying thwack. My tea arrives.
The day holds promise.