In winter, when evening came early, too early, before I closed the heavy curtains on my wide window, I could see lights on the hill opposite. Outside my window is a garden – rather unkempt. After the garden, tall trees. Beyond them, the ground slopes down. It rises up again to a hilltop in the distance. The hill is lined by roads, studded with houses. After dark, their lights glow all over the body of the hill. From my window, they look like hundreds of twinkling lamps. It was a warm sight on a cold evening.

Of course, in winter, the tall trees were all leafless. They stood with their bare arms raised in prayer to the sky. But the dark, bare trees made for a novel picture if I looked out of my window through the parting of my lighter, translucent, white curtains, over the dew dissolving on the panes.

The winter when I was here, it rained quite often. Many a night, I woke up in the small hours and could hear the wind whistling, the rain pouring and the trees swaying outside. It was strange but not fearful. Beautiful, maybe. I forget the date – but it was the threshold between two years, when I was completely alone in the house, and it rained heavily and the cold subsequently intensified. I made no attempt to go out. Public transport would have been too limited anyway. I sat alone in my room, alone in the house, most of the day listening to the rain and the wind.

Another sound is a part of the nights here. The rushing of the trains. There’s a bridge very nearby. All day long, I hear trains rushing by. They don’t stop to rest even when night falls. Where are they off to, I wonder. Who are the people travelling at this time of the night? Why not earlier? Why not tomorrow? What can’t wait till tomorrow? What kept them busy today? Where will they turn up? Will the station be small or large? Will there be anyone to receive them?

Now that it’s spring, the bare trees have all filled up with green foliage. (Prayers answered?) I can still see the hill in the distance, where the leaves have not closed the view, but the twinkling lamps rarely. It doesn’t get dark enough, I suppose. Usually, when I close my curtains, even if it is a late hour, some light from the sky lingers.

In the unkempt garden springs up flowers of their own accord. Daisies grow as easily as weeds here. Some larger ones are right outside my window. Farther away are roses. Something white, something lavender and something pink also appear. Squirrels keep visiting, with their fat, bushy tails and alert eyes. Magpies are very common. Seagulls come but not in large numbers. There’s no room above mine. I have seen from a different window that the roof is filled with pebbles and there’s a small and rusty birdbath on top, complete with a tiny metal bird. Sometimes seagulls or other birds land on that roof and make a noise among themselves with the help of the pebbles. I wonder what is going on upstairs.

And the seagulls can always be heard. Though, right now, I can hear other birds too. Unfortunately I don’t know them. But the shrill cries of the seagull are unmistakable. Very noisy birds, these, but also very lovely. Almost twice the size of a crow. Spotless white with a yellow beak and grey wings tipped with black, they are a trademark sign of this city, I think. I have seen them floating on the waves of the sea. They look peaceful as the green gentle waves rock them to and fro.

This country is so beautiful in spring mostly because of the profusion of flowers. Such large roses and bright lilac sprigs grow in the neighbours’ gardens. In one park, I photographed so many kinds of flowers that finding out all their names became quite a task. Daisies and daffodils are the commonest, I suppose. In another, I clicked some flowers which I recently realised to be narcissus. Lilacs, buttercups, tulips and periwinkles are a few of the rest.

(Image belongs to the writer.)


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