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Under The Water Fall

Aug 4, 2005

Aindharuvi (Five Falls). A place hidden like a secret where five waterfalls come tearing down black rock. Rainbow mist in the air and the scent of eucalyptus. It is six-thirty in the morning. Stone steps slippery with moss lead down to where people are bathing. A high divider separates men from women. In the early morning sunlight your toes curl. The water is ice-cold. The women wash their clothes on the hard ground. Children splash each other with shivery giggles. Everywhere the sound of rushing water. You look up at the diamond froth tossing itself with such unrelenting carelessness over the edge, you look at the way it spreads across the rock face- a silverwhite web drips like icing on a wedding cake sheeted across a black sleekness. The women stand below in the bright voices of their saris. Huddled in small knots under the white raging. Eyes closed their faces gleaming beneath the steady veils of water. Yellow turmeric glows golden in the morning light. Standing underneath the fastfalling water thought stops. There is only this moment. This- onslaught. So Cold and clear and crushingly beautiful. So much of this magic is uniquely India. It is not perfect this place. I know this. I can see the litter on the ground, the mud puddles on the steps. Can see the achingly-thin limbs of the old men the crude harshness in some of the young. There is here, like there is most everywhere in India the living stains of suffering and ignorance. Of callousness and carelessness. (Mine and yours) But don't let them blind you to the beauty that Is. The stone cut vermillion smeared idols at the top of the steps. The brass bells of the small temple. The constant clamour of the vendors and the crowds of strangers who you somehow Know. The old lady bent almost double with the heavy gold in her ears and no teeth in her mouth. The young girl with her shy eyes, long braid and laugh that ripples like a startled bird taking wing. The not so old not so young ladies with their happyloud voices their cheerful shoving. You know them all. Like you know the shape of your room in the dark. And what binds you together are invisible things. The mouth-watering smell of green chilli bhajis frying on the street the soft-centred heaviness of ripe guavas hanging hidden in high branches the honking of the dangerously full bus that tilts around the corner like a tipsy traveller uncertain of which way's home the soft slap of barefeet that leave behind footprints the sun will dry and the steam whistle of the rice cooker the shining of silver plates and tumblers in a dark kitchen the quick crossleggedness on woven mats- all these things and so many more stretching between me and these others like the hot fragrant unbreakable impossible bridge sliding back and forth between two steel cups in the hands of the teastall owner at the corner.

Under the waterfall connections become clear.

You walk back up the road to where dry clothes and a warm breakfast wait for you at a small ashram. Served by a remarkable couple in their seventies who think of you as a granddaughter.

This (too) is Home.

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