My father has a map for his brain. He can’t remember if he took his daily heart medication or in some instances if he had his lunch or dinner, but he can tell you exactly how to get to where you want to go. It doesn’t matter if the area has undergone many renovations or street names changed. He needn’t have been to the place in 10 years, you call him from any point in his home city, he will be able to walk you through to where you want to get, all on the phone. He would never let us go out the house, without drawing out a little map with street names and corner shop names for us.
He visited me last summer and went walking only twice, but could still direct my mom back home from the supermarket on the phone. There is a famous story in our family circles about how in his childhood, he safely took his frazzled and forgetful Paati from her house to the pharmacist’s while nursing his aching hand (“crying all the way” is how they describe it) for which she was going to get pain killers. This was when he had been in the town only some 2 weeks and he was not more than 10 years old. All this convinces me that I must be adopted.
I have lived in this city, in this neighbourhood for 5 years now. Every summer I take my bike out and ride it around in the bike lane. There has been no construction going on here in all these years and even so, yesterday, I got lost. I was pretty sure the path was a large circle and so will eventually get back to where I missed my tangent. But no matter how many familiar landmarks I saw, how many identical potholes I avoided, my lane never came. I was close to losing faith in Colombus’s idea of a round Earth, when I finally saw the lane. On the other side of the green! It was right there, across the grass. And, there, beyond the grass, right there was my building. But as soon as I made the large arc to the other side, it disappeared. Or rather, there was still grass and water between me and my house, while all there should have been was a muddy bike lane heading out to the road to my house. After two more such rounds, I gave up and walked on the grass (*gasp*!) and kept at it till I reached the road and my house. Sigh…. any parents out there lacking a sense of direction with a daughter lost in Kumbh Mela? I think I might be yours.