Ever abhorred one hue because of one who used to wear that colour most often? Perpetually? My odium for orange is unexplained even to my consciousness; imagine, to the subsiding query –‘What’s for dinner?’ the answer would always be orange marmalade on toasts in my childhood, and the same dinner reared me for years, and I loved it, and perhaps I insisted on orange spread on blackish-brown bread; how I grew out of that phase and began to distaste the colour itself remains unsolved. I believe it has nothing to do with the food. Perhaps my uncle wore orange, or perhaps because it represented a certain ideology.
My childhood house was a three-storied red brick building undivided between three brothers to every party’s dissatisfaction; the architecture of that edifice followed the British colonial tradition. Hundred years later, it still stands with all of its clammy and damp ground floor, lonesome albeit elegant first floor, and steep and summer-burnt second floor. The uncle who inherited the third floor by a mutual but myopic settlement amongst the brothers developed gout; the owner of the second floor demised as a bachelor and with a heart that skipped every alternative beat; we lived downstairs, damp, and with my mother who had both severe asthma and temper. My room, one with an apology of a window staring at the neighbour’s toilet window within a breathless distance, was orange pigmented lime-plaster – well, that sounds enough acerbic to turn me sour and dour.
One memory often caws in my cranium – I wanted some now obscure treat from my mother – actually, my dreams change my demands now and then, some new fare – (Mother, oh mother. Mother, my asthmatic mother) enough of the routine ration of toast and marmalade, at least for that night, and made my mother throw a glass jar of marmalade at me instead. The awkward projectile had a cylindrical shape. It rotated by my left ear missing me; I fell on my knees in slow motion and turned my head; the glass jar was in sharp pieces on the floor. It bled orange.
Another one – the uncle of the top floor rolled down to the landing gasping for breath; I witnessed the event through the crack of our door; I was unsure whether to help him or not. Why was I frozen, reluctant, and what that passive aggression makes me? A soft killer?
Today I recollect all that looking at a butterfly; I believe they call it a Mimic Eggfly, and it sprawls a binge of orange briefly near my pane and there on the crude scarecrow wearing my yesteryear’s lawyer’s gown for another jiffy, and then it comes near again. Compared to its brilliance the milieu seems monochrome, odd, strange, and unrhymed of course.
This insect makes me look into my cell phone; perhaps there will be some good news; sometimes I grasp for the most boloney or mundane visual as the wise and astute sign from the beyond or above – sublime, instructive, rewarding, follow-it-to-the-pot-of-gold; there was the news of the second (or is it the third/) wave of the contagion; people in some states are stuck in their house with their kin dead, and because they cannot dispose of the body without a certificate of the municipality, and oh yes – the authority is laden.
I hate orange.
Prisha enters into my trance; she says, Poet has paid his rent. Cat has taken its four kittens out. Three have black and grey heads to their white body, and one has an orange body to its black and white head. I nod. It is a better day.
Picture Nick Victor