I often think doors are veils to homes. Each have a distinct character, speaking volumes of the people living behind the door. It’s fun to guess what could possibly be behind a door — an array of secrets, emotions, and mysteries. A home with laughter, heartaches, hopes, banter, and more. Divyakshi Gupta

I spent almost all my childhood summers at grandma’s place. It was easier at the time to have this latchkey kid spend the days in the garden and in the wide open space. It was easier to get up in the morning and run outside and help grandma with breakfast (or be in her way most times).  It was easier to watch the clouds move along from the front door steps than from an apartment balcony. As school finished and before mom booked time off to take me 600kms away, I was locked in that 2 bedroom apartment. She was scared of the unknown – mostly that I would bring kids in the house while she was at work and snoop around through her stuff. I guess she was ok for me only to touch everything in her makeup and jewellery dresser. It was easier that way…

As we were boarding the 10pm train, I knew mom would pick the very top sleeping bed for me. She said she didn’t want anyone to be higher than me… I knew she actually didn’t want me getting out of bed while she slept and wander the hallways on my own. It was easier that way…

Just after 4am we would arrive close to our destination. Groggy and half asleep, I would drag the luggage off the train and towards the bus station. We would wait for about 2.5 hours until the first bus would come. The morning chill would slowly wake me up and the thought of warm milk waiting for me at granda’s place put happy thoughts in my mind. The bus station in grandma’s town was about 40 minutes walking distance from her house. A very long 40 minutes that mom and I would have to walk at 7am. Just as the town was busying around with morning chores there came two city girls… ready to go back to bed!

All the houses in town had fenced-in yards; To keep all the critters close to the barn and keep out strangers and wandering eyes… but mostly to shelter the family secrets. A lot of times, the gates were locked. You needed to yell from the road or just wait for someone to come around to the front yard and open the door for you to come in. My grandparents’ homestead was no different. The front yard had tall fences, the double doors to the road were kept locked, and if you approached too close, the yard dog would make his presence known. That’s how we knew someone’s there.
It was easier that way…

The yard hid years of trying to perfect their little corner of the world. My grandpa went into military service at 18 years old, married my grandma when he was 20, and continued to be of service until his late 40s when he started working for the beer factory in town. At the time, school was for whoever could afford it and had time for it – grandma left school in grade four, but to this day you cannot hold that against her because she would outsmart us all in her field of study!

Behind those gates, I learned how to milk a cow, how to ride a horse, how to care for a day old baby chick and how to wash my clothes on a washboard. She taught me to value the little we had and do more with less. She showed me how to pick strawberries and raspberries and what was the best way to eat them. She would walk the whole forest with me to look for mushrooms and wild berries. She showed me the easiest way to turn hay around and how to use a rake to not strain my back. She knew exactly what she was doing when milk was set aside in the cold room waiting to be made into cheese and sour cream. The smell of boiling soap liquid would stay with me for days, but I would use that soap with so much pride knowing where it came from.

Behind those gates, dark secrets were also harboured. Secrets of miscarriage and painful recoveries; of drunken nights and misbehaving kids. There were also secrets of taking in relatives running away from domestic abuse, but also taking in relatives that couldn’t get by on their own anymore. Behind tall gates, the pain from husbandry loss hid from the inquisitive eye. Nobody needed to know when you were at your worst; they didn’t need to know you could be weak.

It was easier that way… 

Advertisements