Home Sweet Home – Kiran Bhushi’s Terrace, Khel Gaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There are many beautiful terraces in Delhi, but this one might be the most beautiful of all—at least at this time of the year. When semal trees are still in bloom, and that their red flowers set alight every surface they fall upon.
Kiran Bhushi’s second floor apartment lies right under the branches of a gigantic semal, in south Delhi’s Khel Gaon. And this evening the terrace is covered with semal’s pulpy flowers, dropping one after another.
“The other day one fell on my friend’s wrist, and she said it hurts,” mutters Ms Bhushi. Wearing a peach-coloured tussar silk sari, she has just returned from work. A sociology professor, she reigns alone in this house. Almost alone, one must say. For her apartment is unofficially shared by Maharani, a neighbourhood cat who often chooses to lounge for long hours in Ms Bhushi’s apartment. Right now the cat is helping herself to her meal bowl in the terrace corner. It is impossible to read Maharani’s mind, but her behaviour suggests that she doesn’t care much for all the semals scattered about her.
Ms Bhushi remarks that Rajrani, her part-time housekeeper, isn’t exactly fond of semal either. Her reasons are more practical, since she is in charge of cleaning the terrace. Besides, the flowers are slippery and you can fall and break a bone, warns Ms Bhushi. And the tree sheds a tad too many leaves.
The professor now sits down on one of the three iron chairs arranged around an iron table—all littered with the fallen semals. Maharani too settles nearby. The chairs are green, and remarkably similar to the green metallic chairs of the famous Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, which are actually so iconic that their exact replicas are sold on Amazon. Ms Bhushi has indeed extensively travelled in France, but the fact that her chairs are similar to those of a Paris garden is completely unintentional. “I picked them from a footpath stall in Saket, and painted them pea-green during the lockdown.”
As the semals continue to fall about her, one naturally wonders if the terrace will still be beautiful once their season ends.
It will then have beauty of another kind, Ms Bhushi says. The terrace will have more colours—the yellow of the sunflowers, the saffron shade of nasturtiums, the pink of the bougainvillaeas and the white of petunias. “Most white flowers come out in summer, and bloom at night, and then my terrace will be full of perfumes. I will sit down here in the darkness and watch moths sitting on these flowers… Jasmines will be blooming soon, too. Champas will also come.”
And these semals will then not be missed.