Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Safe Haven by Chandu Singathi

My Safe Haven

by Chandu Singathi

As my warm skin comes in contact with the rough wooden bench and my skinny fingers

feel the bumps in the old tan-colored paint, feelings of familiarity and freedom stir inside me.

After what feels like an endless week of hard work, experiencing the closeness of the nature

surrounding me brings back my sense of comfort and belonging and makes me feel at home. The

subtle winds bring chills up my spine and shift the position of my hair, tickling my bare neck

ever so slightly. As I observe the departure of the sun for the day, the sky slowly breaks out into

hundreds of shades of red. Peering between the cracks of the tall oak tree’s array of leaves, I

catch glimpses of the giant descending ball of fire as it goes on its daily retreat. Stunned, I shift

my gaze from the sky to the variety of multicolored leaves slowly dying on the oak tree, and I lay

my eyes on exuberant reds, oranges, and yellows becoming illuminated under the setting sun’s

rays. Whenever feelings of stress take over my mind, I retreat to my deck, taking in the

peacefulness of the atmosphere and temporarily freeing myself from worries and problems.

While I bathe in the beauty of the nature in my backyard, my thoughts begin to flow more freely

and I speculate on various issues, or I sit with a still mind and simply observe the slightly

overgrown grass covered in fallen leaves as well as the aged oak trees scattered around the area.

During most Friday evenings, the addicting aroma of my mother’s famous chicken rice makes its

way to my position on the largest deck in the community, and I remember the familiarity of

eating that same dish almost every Friday for the past ten years. The burning sensation of the

onions’ scent mixed in with the fresh smell of coriander stimulates my thoughts and memories,

but I do not become shaken by these feelings. Instead, I remain on the wooden bench and peek at

the back doors and windows of my neighbors’ houses, suddenly obtaining the sensation of being

watched. Seeing no one and feeling completely separated from the world, I take a few deep

breaths and inhale the fresh scent of the marigold flowers sprouting in the garden a few feet

away from the deck, and I almost taste the revitalizing flavor of the mint leaves growing beside

them. The natural green pigment of the mint leaves brings me to my senses, invigorating me

from within and releasing any last knots of tension inside me. Before I know it, the crickets’

consistent chirps and the fireflies’ sudden bursts of light signal the coming of night, and I realize

that dinnertime arrives. While I make myself taller and approach the back door, I hear the

hooting of an owl from a distance, and my attempts to glimpse the owls results in my sight of

nothing but tall, dark oaks with a few crumpled leaves remaining on them. As I make my way

back inside my house, the cold wood under my bare feet sends chills up my legs, pushing me to

increase my speed. While my nearly-frozen fingers embrace the door handle, I hear the familiar

voices of my favorite Indian television actors and actresses along with the noise of my family

members in the kitchen, and I scurry into my house before all the food is gone.

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