Your balcony, my balcony
I wake up early these days, just to watch you. These days I have a cup of tea by my side, too. I like drinking tea watching you drink tea. I think it is tea you drink, not coffee.
The nurses grumble and think I am a petulant and difficult patient. They don't know that seeing you potter around early mornings is my therapy. Watching you is my private medicine.
I remember the first time I saw you. I was in pain. Couldn't sleep. They wheeled me to the balcony. It didn't matter where I was, as long as I was away from that ghastly hospital bed they got me. It wasn't dawn yet. I'd never been up that early, I'd never been in the balcony at that time. My discomfort made everything look grey.
The door to your balcony opened and you stepped out, that huge mug in your hand. An old fashioned two-storied house separates our apartment buildings and I am a couple of floors higher. There was something in the way you leaned, elbows on the parapet that caught my attention.
You looked fresh and wide-awake. I resented that. How can anyone look so cheerful this early in the morning, I thought. You pottered around, fetching a spray can and washing the leaves of all the potted plants. Watching you, I forgot pain and discomfort for a while.
Now I know you always look like that, like you will break into a smile any moment. When you stroke the plants, when you stare into the distance. I wonder what you are thinking of to look so serene and happy.
There are a lot of potted plants on your balcony. Mine is bare. You talk to the plants, stroke them. I wonder what you say to them. I feel tense when you wander in, but tell myself you will be back, as you left that mug on the parapet. You do, carrying an ashtray. There are so many plants, you could flick ash into any pot, but you use an ashtray. I find that endearing.
I watched for you at other times of the day. I suppose you work, because I never see you during the day. Sometimes you wander into the balcony in the evenings. I like to look out for that. You look different in jeans. The leisurely morning mood, when you talk to the plants and sip tea is replaced by a briskness in the evenings.
You are always alone. No one joins you at these times, early morning, sun yet to rise moments or in the evenings. That must be a three bedroom flat, yet I think you live alone. How do you look so content if you are alone?
Once in a while you look down at something, and a flash of annoyance crosses your face. What is it that irks you, I wonder. I won't know. Like you don't know that I share your mornings. You don't know me, but I know the private moments of your life when you think you are alone.
You kissed that plant before plucking fresh chillies from it. Were you saying sorry or thanks? I saw you pull something up from a pot once. Weeding, I thought. You brought out a seedling pot and carefully potted that alien seedling. I see you tending it. It looks like neem. You could have thrown it away; it was a weed, a cuckoo in the nest. But you care for it. It is growing vigorously.
I am mending too. I can hobble a bit now, and wheel myself into the balcony. Soon I won't need this wheelchair. I will go back to my previous life then. I think I will still need to see you drinking tea in the mornings.
Who are you? Why do I need you? I think I will get a few plants.