There is incessant hammering at home and, although I have still not become numb to the sound, it provides a background score to the thud of chunks of wall falling, of debris being shoveled into sacks.
It is one thing to start from scratch and quite another to watch what you have lived with being stripped down to bricks, the beams holding up much as they did when you were sold a home. You watch, a lump in your throat, as your favourite spot in the enclosed balcony becomes rubble and a misstep could take you straight to the ground several feet below.
It is only when you look at the vestiges that you realise just how fragile you really were. If all it takes is a hammer to break those vitrified tiles, then you have been living precariously all along. Surely, the weight of a hammer is not exclusive to it. There are heavier things, things that fall with a thud, or even a whisper, and cut through the few inches of space you stand on.
Today, the whole bathroom is brick. It is dry. No water, no tears. The door is gone, and I have to avert my eyes lest it appear that I am being voyeuristic. The brick body looks vulnerable, its skin patchy. Right now I can hear scraping sounds. Either something is being scraped away or scraped over. One cannot tell. Perhaps it isn't all that different, for as I have experienced these past few days one is about the other. Build-break-build-break-build.
Every few minutes, I have to get up from wherever I am to check less on the progress and more on how much needs to be broken. Creation needs blank space. It is difficult to shed a tear without being caught out.
I spoke with a friend, and said I could not go anywhere. "This is ridiculous," he said. "Are you applying the plaster?"
No. It's not about my role in the scheme of things, but about my absence. It would mean a lot. I keep quiet.
Things have to be shifted or moved out. This is where the heart tugs really hard. I had to decide, and I decided to part. They too got covered with soot and flakes of old plaster.
The roll-top desk was hardly being used as a desk. I had picked it up from Chor Bazaar, the market of thieves. "Antique, antique," the guy who ran the shop told me as I touched its smooth edges.
"Rubbish," I said. "This is new."
"I can give old look," he assured me, grinning all the time.
"No. Just polish it."
The wood was tough, and it had many little crannies to put things into. I brought out all of these, and left it with mere memories.
Then came the red sofa. It was not the main sofa, it did not get a place in the heart of the living room. This was an add-on purchase. I know, it is ridiculous that anybody would consider a whole sofa as an add-on. I did. Am not sure whether I fell in love with it, but there was something nice about it. It felt right.
But it had become an occupier, and had to go. In the crevices there might be a few hair pins left, one hopes with the scent of pine-infused shampoo.
I had to move out small stools, and a garden table too. What was a garden table doing inside an apartment? I don't know. I kept is propped up against the wall, and it looked like a painting on an easel. A finished painting unreclaimed.
These bits and pieces were wayfarers, and like wayfarers the journey could not have been endless.
Once again I go to check on the work being done. There is dust everywhere I touch. In a corner are two seashells I had picked up. They aren't broken. Yet.