My father is dead. For a few years now his body parts have been educating someone in some medical faculty somewhere.
From time to time when I go to the Tamil shop I buy a certain soap. Not that I make a list and go looking for it. I just see it and my hand reaches out and it follows me home.
Then I forget about it and leave it somewhere. In a cupboard. A medicine cabinet, whatever. And on days when the day to day soap runs out I remember and I open its crisp cardboard box and it falls willingly into my palm. And its size is the perfect fit for my hand. Always been. Not too big and not too small. Like some kind of play thing. Manageable. Friendly.
I then put it to my nose and sniff it like a dog sniffs a disgustingly stinky bone. And it takes me right to my father. To Balapitiya. To the well in Balapitiya. Where he used to give us a well bath and the soap was this. Rani’s sandalwood soap. They loved it, the ancestral home crowd in Balapitiya. Rani’s sandalwood soap. Now starring at my kitchen sink. And next time I go to Ambal Trading I’ll just stock up on a few more. This time I’ll put it on my list and may be put it inside my pillow in shards wrapped in cheese cloth as if it were lavender.
A cheap ticket to that Balapitiya well and to my father’s love. It was always there. Often it lay hidden. But it was always there. Still is. The soap’s the proof of it.
He knows. So do I. What a soapy mess. I’d better go lie down in the sun with the soap box now … and dream of Balapitiya wells. This is it. I found him. In sandalwood soap. A true story. I swear.
Renu – October 27, 2015