The evening draws in quickly. At one moment the late afternoon sun is there, mellow orange against the sky, and the next minute it is almost twilight, and time for me to leave my rooftop plants and flowers, and return to my flat. As I take a last stroll around the jasmine, an aroma of warm ghee floats up from some nearby kitchen, and soon after, a long-forgotten and much loved familiar fragrance—the smell of curried chicken—as it was cooked in my mother's kitchen in olden days.
In that moment, Proust-like, I am transported, back to my childhood and I feel a homesickness that I have not experienced in years. My memory key is not an elegant madeleine dipped in tea, but nonetheless the fragrance of my modest curry takes me home again just as surely, and I am wrapped in the warmth and security of my parents' comforting presence once again, surrounded by the familiar sounds and smells of everything I hold dear. Forgotten pictures of my childhood come flooding back, memories of my parents and my siblings, school days with beloved teachers, and afternoon games with the friends of those times.
We all have stories and cherished memories of our childhood and the past inside us, woven into a bright, rich tapestry that lies hidden, and even forgotten in some corner of our hearts, until somewhere a golden angle of light falling on a side street, or the sound of a distant bell becomes the key that brings back long-distant recollections of joy, dreams, and loves.
There is beauty in every tapestry, and poetry inside us all. Sometimes the poetry in us cannot be heard except when there are real listeners, and it is quiet; during peaceful lamp-lit evenings or on moonlit verandas, and even in the stillness of early morning. At other times, the songs remain unsung until long years afterward when a solitary picture or a letter uncovers a story.
As I write, my domestic angels are seated near me on the floor, sewing. They are quiet as they bend over their work, and I wonder what songs remain unsung in their lives, what dreams were thwarted, what disappointments they must have experienced. I enjoy watching their quiet concentration, involved entirely in the work of the moment, and I smile as I realise that I do exactly the same.
In the end, we are all the same in the deepest recesses of ourselves, accepting the commonality of the human condition, with all its compensations and drawbacks. We all look forward to the coming day, the tasks at hand, and everything else that is so much a part of life. As we rejoice in the present, and look forward to the future, the memory keys come back at odd times to remind us that we carry our life tapestries in our hearts, memories of the best moments, the best places, and our best-loved people. We can always go home.