Monday, September 17, 2007


I've just come back from my parents' house in East Anglia. My mum is about to go into hospital for a knee operation. If it is successful, as everyone predicts, then a few months down the line they will operate on her other knee. Her mind is strong and agile and in recent years it's been her body that has let her down. But this time next year, if not sooner, her doctors expect full mobility. The knee operations should transform her life and we are already chatting about a family vacation in Kerala together next winter.

I grew up an only child in Kent and our little family of three has always been very close. I've always enjoyed going home, which I still consider home even though I now have one of my own. We chat about food and the garden, we share recipes, we gossip about the neighbours and work, we discuss politics watching BBC News 24, we watch old 70s sitcoms like Terry & June and Love Thy Neighbour on DVD, and we moan about each other too. My mum cooks me all my old favourites - this weekend it was cauliflower curry and minced beef and mixed vegetable curry. It's great seeing them.

Going home also provides me the opportunity to step outside my usual lifestyle and slow down - to get off the teeter-totter of my must-do and want-to-do lists and to simply sit and be. It's always at my parents' home that I fully understand this old Zen koan:
"Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes,
and the grass grows by itself."
It was to home I returned for long spells when I needed respite from cancer treatment, it was to home I returned when I was going through a particularly bad heartbreak, it was to home I returned when I wanted to finish writing a novel.

And I go home to remember who I used to be - as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult just starting out with all my hopes and dreams and preconceptions of life. For my mother refuses to clean out my bedroom - though we moved innumerable times growing up, all my books and music and notebooks are still there bearing witness to my evolving passions through time.

Engineering works on the tracks meant I spent half my journey back to London today on a coach. M.I.A. and Gwen and Madonna kept me company on my iPod coming back just as the Chilli Peppers and Bowie had kept me entertained on my journey there yesterday. And then the coach turned a corner and there was the Gherkin and Canary Wharf and all those cranes glinting in the soft, dusky sunshine and M rang to say he was waiting to meet me at Liverpool Street Station having finished his day at the office, and my heart sang.

M made steak with frites and a tomato salad again for dinner and I'm now going to eat fresh peaches and drink Sparrow's Tongue green tea while M continues to work and I settle in with a novel.

Sad to have left them; glad to be back with him.


Bombay Beauty said...

A lovely reverie. Indeed, it is important to remember our past selves, because they are still within us. And as I grow older each day spent with my parents grows more and more precious. Cheers, BB

Silent One said...

What fun to be back home. Only mothers can indulge us they way they do !!
Hop your mother's operation goes well - please do keep us updated.

Olivia said...

I am an only child too, and I grew up best friends with my parents.
We would take up the least space in our big houses, 4 bedrooms, 2 livings rooms, and where are we? 3 small people snuggled up together on one 2-seater sofa! I mean...!!!

Best wishes for your mother's upcoming knee surgery.

Planethalder said...

Thank you for your kind comments. I've passed them onto my mum! She is doing well now. She'll be in hospital a few more days having lots of physio. Hopefully she'll be back home after this weekend.

mumbaigirl said...

What a moving post, hope your mum's operation goes well.