Monday, 2 May 2011

A Sloping Roof (Prose piece)


 Wooden eaves and wooden floors. A space under the roof to fill with things; a room for living or a room for remembering?

Sloping roofs change things. They change dimensions and proportions; they change the understanding you have of a space. A flat ceiling is very different from a sloping one.
And she wished her flat roof and high flat ceiling away. She wished away the continuous badly painted whiteness and the white walls that filled the house, dividing it into geometric linear rooms and passages. She wished away the starkness of perpendicular lines, and closed her eyes, and pictured the changes that snow could bring.

Snow will settle in my hair. Weigh down the ends of it, little flakes and then bigger ones, and trickle little drops of wetness into my ears and scalp. Snow will leak into the cracks in the white and fill them with wetness. Snow will weigh down the two ends of the roof, and bend them into a curve, a curve to shelter me.

Looking up, and two lines, receding and converging. A slope, nestling you under it, planting itself firmly above you and littler horizontal planks meeting the vertical ones. Space narrowing off into a point.

here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors…

The sticky warmth of a child’s two hands clasped over the little finger people. Houses that children draw always have sloping roofs. Sloping roofs, with a little circular window, to look into the attic. Or out from it. Houses are meant to have roofs like that. There are meant to be secret corridors, wallpapered baby rooms, and gleaming kitchens. All I want, is what I was meant to.

We are all lacking that space in our minds. Our gleaming, flat white-page-ready-to-be-written-on minds. That work overtime; reflect and bounce off anything the world throws our direction. Flat expanses with ideas stacked into rows one on top of the other, filed into transparent plastic filing cabinets with labels on white paper and black marker. White, sterile white, staining and cleaning itself, never letting anything seep in too deep; marked by infinite pens writing over each other.

A naked bulb hanging from the rafters. Rafters. I am not convinced about what exactly they are. Rafters. Wooden beams. Eaves. Round window. Deep breath. Look around. Wooden smell. Piles of memories. Isn’t that the setting that memories belong in?

Where do we store our memories? I wonder. We do not have rooms in our houses for these things. We shift things around, shove them into cupboards, and wait for moths and rats to consume them. We put expensive things in bank lockers and inexpensive ones under the mattress and in the loft cupboard in the ironing room for lizards to lay eggs on.

Breaking down; reconstruct. Rebuild my house into what I want it to be. Draw it out. From a child’s sketch to a building plan. From a crayoned generic sofa and plant to the bedcover and colourful wall I always dreamed of.
But the ladder, will stay the same.

It has to be a ladder. Leading into a square of space. A broad wooden ladder; with ten rungs. A trapdoor, left slightly open, mustiness seeping down. It is just as you want to picture it. 
With dimness lifting slowly, dust resettling, memories and old things crowded around.


But what things? What will I put there? I am scrabbling around. Vague shapes. A rocking horse turns into a plastic baby potty. A wooden chest is just an old stool, that is maybe not a stool but a sawed up table. What do these things mean? Who put them here?

Sit by the round window and watch it rain. Look out and forget shapes and spaces. Space was never yours to construct. You just try to shrink yourself into whatever you get. 

-Radhika Chakraborty 

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