10 weeks. He’d keep coming back home from the hospital with greasy hair and pale skin,only to return to Room 109 in Clarkson’s
welfare home every fortnight. I could see him from my large bay window as they carried him from his bed to the car. My eyes would so often look for him that I’d end up getting my fingers injured in the careless process of slicing apples with my thoughts everywhere but contained in the confines of the smoky kitchen. I remember his perfect smile-a set of 31.I counted.
His eyes were a shade of crazy blue,as crazy as his antics and his bizarre sketches of sceptres and groggy eyed old men. I’d often find him kicking up stones in the meadows and muttering to himself while gazing out into the emptiness.
For a long time I used to believe that he could probably see the dead.
You can hardly blame me for that deduction. He used to visit graveyards everyday and draw dead people.
Lately he had started making a lot of movies as well. But here’s the catch,they weren’t bizarre. They were romantic.
I was rather rattled to see how the same zany person was capable of such overwhelmingly heartwarming articulations of love.
Again,I thought he was probably a mediator who listened to dead people in love.
You can’t blame me.
He was like that. 6’4”,Mohawk ‘round the year and crazy paintings. Not stereotyping,but it was hard to see him as a blossoming romantic.
Maybe that was his excuse. His excuse of not going out with women who asked him out. He said he was irrevocably in love with the women he drew. I often asked him about who all he drew and if I could see his art. He’d simply refuse.
“I’ll go make some apple pie”,granny told me. This was minutes before there was a violent row of knocking at our door.
I remember how he always used his silver deftly as if it were as important an art as the brush that he wielded every Wednesday,like a ritual..to paint me on his old 16”x20” canvas which he swore was for his portfolio to get into art school.It took me thirty years to realise that he had been lying all along.
I could see him all the way from across the meadows outside his cousin’s farmhouse. He was always in messy clothes,his hair was never combed well,his pockets were always full of marbles. Whenever I asked him if he liked the apple pie I made for him,he’d respond by saying,”I’d like some more soon.”
And that would make my day!
I once sneaked into the meadows long after he left.
I wanted to see what he saw. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to see the world from his eyes.
I stood there for a long time. I think I also sat down after sometime. The fog cleared and the raindrops that were falling on my tousled hair suddenly turned into snowflakes. I unfurled my tightly clenched palm and let the flakes collect in my palms. Ere long,my clothes were wet and the Winter wind was churlishly chiding me for stepping out.
I couldn’t see what he saw.
I was disappointed.
Why would he go to the meadows so often? What did he find?
The knocks stopped when I went to the door and let it open. Our neighbour’s attendant stood at our door with the plastic box in which granny had sent apple pie for Mr.Jackson.
“He’s no more Mary. The sickness has finally taken him away.”
My Grandmother sat down in her rocking chair and dabbed her eyes with her linen apron.
“Did he like my apple pie?”,she asked while weeping copiously.
“He asked me to tell you that he’d soon want some more”
The attendant left.
Two days later she was taken ill.
I personally took her to the doctor.
Three days later,I came back home alone.
The house was empty.
All that I could see was Granny’s rocking chair,a few apples in the basket and a tiny picture in a wooden frame, by her bedside.
Written below,in her neat cursive hand was, “Jackson and I,Summer of ’69. The meadows.”
Of Course!That’s where they had first met. How could she not see what he saw?