Monday, 28 April 2014


“Living by preference, not by principle,” that’s what my Uncle Bertie always used to say. He was a great man of a special vintage who brought music to the low pipes of lonely people.
He would disregard excuses for not really living life to the full in an almost callous way.
“You weren’t born with the good sense God gave you!” He’d boom, “So what if you’re unlikely to win the lottery or drive an Aston Martin – grow some rhubarb and have it with a bit of pickled sausage, try new things and invent a magnificent life!”
He’d drag you out of your palace of misery to watch seals leaping over the rocks by the beach. And when you’d filled your day with fun and excitement, you’d be lying in the dunes within the long tufts of grass listening to the waves lapping up against the shore. He’d verbally post mortem the day’s events and you would realise that he was right…it was better to live by preference than by principle.
Here I am in my palace of misery. Lately my only friend being a bottle of whiskey; its fetid and fruity stench biting the air from the warm patio. My paint brushes lie redundant as though unused since the 70s when once they smelt of smoky perfumed paints.
There is a crash at the door and in storms Uncle Bertie brandishing his swimming trunks decorated with flowers and freshly laundered as the scent of lavender wafts to my dormant nostrils mixed with the aroma of his coffee flavoured pipe. It reminded me of filling the machine with shiny coffee beans at my old place of work. 
“Darling! Get dressed – we’re going out!” he announced. I refuse initially but he insists, bumbling me into the shower where I’m squirted with a necklace of fragrant soap smelling of a heady summer garden.
We go to the beach where Bertie buys me a huge balloon that immediately pops and is filled with delicious pear drops in paper packets. A smile slowly spreads across my face. Next he threads a chain of cardamoms together to make me a necklace from the local spice market. It reminds me of the unlikely smile of a rickshaw driver from my travels in Mumbai.
We head home content and happy. My palace of misery is no longer and instead is a cottage of happiness. The lead flashing in the roof encourages mossy green tufts of a forgotten fragrance of bliss.

The copyright of this post belongs to Komal Patel

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