The road to my grandmother’s house is lined with farming and fishing villages. House after house, prayer hall after prayer hall rush past, a never-ending train of mute, box-shaped olive green and purple coaches. There are quick glimpses of a child or two engaged in play. Then the ground gradually begins to sink. After a time only the roofs are visible – close little clusters of earthy eaves peeking over the road side, hiding the homes of invisible people. And then quite without warning, with quite a grand flourish, swaths of green-gold paddy fields explode into sight, opening up beyond the rooftops, rolling out into the vast horizon, further and further from the speeding car, the road,…then screeching to a halt at the feet of a quiet row of coconut trees bent gracefully over Lilliputian houses.
I remember being a little girl and looking out for a glimpse of sea between the dark green clumps of trees. I believe I’ve seen it. But as I grow older, as visits become less frequent, sometimes I think I imagined them – a childish confusion of real life with years of disappearing into the pages of Enid Blyton and Narnia.
Each time I get in the car to my grandmother’s, each time the sun-drenched landscape streams past like painted canvas beating about in the wind, I try to remember to seek them out, these elusive little glittering patches framed by rooftops and tree trunk and childish dreams. But I don’t know for sure – maybe they were never there. Or maybe being an adult means forgetting to pay attention.