It sounds dramatic to say that the ceiling fell. A large slab did, revealing its pockmarked nakedness.
A few days ago, when I returned home in the evening there was a pile of rubble on the floor — chunks of plaster, powdered cement. Some of it had fallen on the bed, the side-table, my desk, the computer, the old motherboard; flakes were sprinkled on a painting, a mirror, and a few books lying around.
This is the room where I write, read, lounge, sleep. I might have been doing any of these and that part of the ceiling would most certainly have fallen on me. Even as I am angry and upset, can I forget this small gesture of the fall taking place when I was not around?
I have romanticised ceilings and walls for long, and especially ceilings because when we prepare to sleep it is the last thing we see. In some ways it is privy to our dreams.
So, although I was saved, there is sadness that my 'roof' could not be. It has been exposed to the elements, each season wreaking havoc upon its form. It needs to be fixed.
The contractor arrived with some fellows and they immediately started working on the ruins. It was ruins. The stories it had witnessed and that were embedded in the concrete got buried.
As it was being stripped, I realised we know so little about what is inside walls and ceilings. We are aware about how a house is built, but once it becomes a home we don't think about it. Furniture, upholstery, curtains, bed linen, artifacts engage us. We hammer nails into walls to beautify them with what we like to call our signature. "I want my stamp to be there," we say, with much pride. Fans and lights hang from or are encrusted in ceilings.
As those men exposed the very cocoon, I could see in the patches a little art, a trifle sad, like a forgotten museum. It was a discovery. This is what was behind the walls, not just another room, other voices, noises. The ceiling seemed like a real creature that was crying to look beyond. We live on the last floor, so I thought the sky would now be visible through it. I was denying the ceiling its due — the ceiling that was now on the floor.
More labourers are working. They have been applying all kinds of unguents. The structure is getting a "makeup". That's what the contractor said. I just wanted it to heal, but he told me that after all the "cures", the marks would remain unless I beautified it with a fresh coat of paint.
I started checking out colours. Bright. Yes, bright. The greys and beiges I love will remind me too much of these fallen remnants. I fantasise about red, but it is overwhelming and distracting, and too boudoir. Moving on to yellows, greens, blues, my eyes spot a touch of mauve. It speaks to me in hushed tones.
This is it. I speak to the man in charge. He arrives with his own shade card. My choice is not there. I look for alternatives, something that is closest to it. "Here, sassy violet," I tell him.
"No," he says.
"What? It is right here."
"Oh, sussy voilet," he says.
The cadence of mispronunciation makes it somehow uplifting.
I imagine a room full of violets that have a touch of a voile scarf flying in the wind.
The walls and ceiling are forgotten once again.
© Farzana Versey