I moved into my mother’s house while you were in early bloom during the month of March. The suffocating heat from the coast of Mumbai, my city of dreams was one where the dust and soot made all the seasons aloof except monsoon, which was vivid, endless. I packed a suitcase full of clothes, left my job, and flew to my coastal home town in Odisha. The early yearnings of a deadly virus were floating in the air. But I was blissfully unfettered and said my goodbyes without any thought.
Time halted, the moment I stepped into my old childhood home and you welcomed me with a gush of summer air, humidity, and sickly sweet smell. I couldn’t breathe surrounded by the abundance of flowers, flooded with memories of earth and rain. I wanted to head back to the city with its bright lights, endless days, and blissful ignorance. The home was a trap, I wished to leave the minute I stepped inside and crossed the threshold. While you were glorious in full bloom waiting to embrace me, I had forgotten all about you, like every other memory from childhood.
Our house is very old and my mother is a gardener, has shears and tools, wildflowers and exotic seeds. She works like an alchemist, day and night propagating roots, mixing flowers and feeding worms. And as I watched her go through the endless cycle of growth and decay I felt caged indoors. Caged inside a season that I couldn’t quite reconcile with.
Meanwhile, painful memories of the people I left behind, the goodbyes I couldn’t say, and the freedom I had taken for granted haunted me for days. I wanted to tear through the walls and run. This home was but a testimony to a season I didn’t want to experience. I would sit outside for hours surrounded by blooming flowers. I would run wild during the night with nowhere to go, only four corners of a small garden. A garden that held the secrets of the world but only gave me a taste of bitter nostalgia. I wanted to be free, to go atop a mountain or run in a valley of yellow flowers and make love.
Every day that I spent wallowing in your embrace, I realized that there is an underlying frustration that lives within the happiness of your arrival. It was not a facade but a mirror that reflected my deep sense of isolation. You called for shameless desires slipping into my bones and I had nowhere else to go. So I dreamt of body and mouth, fingertips, all the while waiting for you to become something else. And in the waiting, I learned to let go. To exist with you till you became me, flesh and bone.
Now months have gone by and I have gained the ability to live in pools of harmonious existence with nature. We all have. I have also learned that vast periods of avoiding our true self or being uncomfortable in our natural habitat makes us feel alienated. I am aware, deep within my consciousness, that you have morphed into the pandemic itself. Or maybe the virus took on some of your colors and agility, dear spring. Wherever I go I smell of earth and decay. I live with an abstract sense of time, and the transient feeling of you leaving. But the flowers outside are still blooming and so is the virus. Everything is spreading despite itself, growing and syncing with the smell of spring.
Your seasonal friend, Lost, found.
Text and Artworks by Bidisha Mahapatra.
Curated by Shrey Sethi.