Temporary abode

Today’s (optional) prompt is brought to us by the Emily Dickinson Museum. First, read this brief reminiscence of Emily Dickinson, written by her niece. And now, here is the prompt that the museum suggests:

Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory or another significant space from your life.

(Long forgotten memories come rushing with a whoosh taking me back in time to this very day, a fortnight spent in a temporary home at dad’s worksite.)

A whitewashed frame of brick and mortar

with a tin head atop

no beds, no dining table and chairs

just basic amenities to get by

one room for us siblings

I can still smell the sandalwood incense

mom would light, to keep the insects at bay

mattresses on the floor, covered with coarse cotton sheets,

were our four poster bed

from the ceiling fan hung the mosquito net

turning our sleeping alcove into a fortress

where many a wars were fought

temporary sheer curtains made

from mom’s old blue net saree

fluttered prettily in the windows

a world map on one bare wall

would keeps us on our toes

for every evening after dinner

dad would love to flummox us with geography quiz

sometimes over a glass of whisky he would relate

entertaining anecdotes shared by a German coworker

during the day it was our wrestling arena

also a place of verbal duels,

a haven from the heat outside

where we would venture in search of frogs and chameleons

a cosy nook to retire after the evening spree of cycling

every night the mango tree outside

rustled in the breeze playing a symphony

with the hot tin roof

that would keep us awake for a while

some nights, when the power would go off

we would read under the sheets

with torches under our chins

when it got too hot, the sheets were sprinkled with water

to keep us cool and the heat bearable

watching fireflies from the window

was our favourite night time activity

we didn’t have much then but were happy

today kids have everything yet…


64 thoughts on “Temporary abode

  1. Amazing!! You have described everything so beautifully🌹
    And the last line…these days children have everything….yet
    They still want more…. and are still not happy…..having everything has made them oblivious and they take many things for granted…sadly

    The poem was wonderful! Keep writing🌸❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your conclusion shows everything isn’t everything. I enjoyed your recollection very much. My grandparents were dirt poor but their home was a family hub of liveliness. I spent a lot of time there and it was a much happier place than my own home, which was very quiet.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. WOW, Punam–you have an incredible gift for describing place and person. I’m totally amazed and impressed. This is such a lovely piece, right up at the top of my faves list ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh good! A full heart, and full stomach–if we have those we are Much Blessed💕💟💖 (My stomach is full of pizza–a rare treat!! 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I tried making my own once…terrible idea! I like ordering better too…I have 2 slices left, want to share? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You made me smile throughout this – the genuine happiness, not about material possessions but about love and family.

    “watching fireflies from the window
    was our favourite night time activity”

    It is not possessions that bring happiness, and you have illustrated this in such a beautifully heartwarming way ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You made me happy reading this Punam..you were certainly a happy kid growing up regardless of what you dont have..

    And oh, watching fireflies at night is something that i never did when i was a kid …not even now..i wonder where are all the fireflies now?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nostalgia hit me hard! The simple pleasures of life. I remember thinking as a kid that mosquito nets would keep away the ghosts when I would visit my aunt in the city of Calcutta! We never used them back at home 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your memory reminded me of a book of lullabies that I would sing to both my children and grands.
    The rhyme is called the Cradle-song by Sarojini Naidu from the Baby’s Bedtime Book by Kay Chorao:

    Cradle-Sogy by Sarojini Naidu

    From groves of spice, /O’er fields of rice,/ Athwart the lotus-stream,
    I bring for you, /Aglint with dew, /A little lovely dream.

    Sweet ,shut your eyes, /The wild fire-flies,/ Dance through the fairy neem;/
    From the poppy-bole/ For you I stole/ A little lovely dream.

    Dear eyes, good-night,/ In golden light /The stars around you gleam;
    On you I press/ With soft caress/ A lovely little dream.

    (Not all are lucky enough to know of fire-flies – to me they signal the beginning of summer…And I am fortunate that they fill my back yard most summer evenings.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jules, how lucky you are to have fireflies fill your backyard! I agree, not all are lucky.
      Guess what! That was one of my favourite poems by the nightingale of our country! Thanks for reminding me.

      Liked by 1 person

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