It’s been a surprising few days. There was a tsunami in the Solomon Islands; the Sensex crash wiped out legions of small investors; Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said that he’d snorted his cremated father’s ashes along with a bit of blow; and the state of Jammu & Kashmir lost a 50,000-year-old mammoth skull from a maximum-security tin shed, and will now have to keep an eye on Ebay. Most astonishing of all, my husband and I finally bought some curtains.
We moved into our shared, married space three years ago, after a gruelling renovation process that had taken eleven months instead of the projected four. Things were still a little half-baked—some window grilles had been fitted, but the rest hadn’t arrived. The company that had pledged to supply piped gas to the colony had suddenly decided not to bother. And so on. But we were in.
After shutting the door on the last of the workmen, and double checking that the kitchen, bathroom, and television worked, we decided to rest a bit before finishing up. We got back to paid work, socialised with people who had no masonry or carpentry skills whatsoever, and walked past home stores without worrying about whether the fittings inside might be better than the ones we’d picked. We slowly found happiness again and, in celebratory excitement, extended our little sabbatical by a few days. The next time we looked around, this week, three years had passed.
It’s not that we haven’t made small home improvements in the meantime. We got plants, opened some cartons, commissioned a bed so that we didn’t have to sleep on the study floor every time we had guests. After a year we had all the doors planed so that they close, which means no more posting guards in front of occupied bathrooms during parties. The rest of the window grilles never did show up, but we’re secretly glad.
As for the windows, we learned to simply ignore the fact that we have neighbours. The heat was more difficult to forget, so during our first summer we installed a retractable awning and hung a couple of green chicks on the eave along one balcony to protect the plants. My corner of the study next to an enormous window is so bright that I have, on occasion, had to sit down to work wearing my sunglasses. At some point my husband pasted a sheet of wax paper over the window to diffuse the light—a welcome-back present after one of my travels—and that worked all right. Eighteen months after moving in we bought curtain rods, as a sort of promissory gesture.
And a year and a half after that great leap forward, our windows were still large and bare, half-grilled, casting on us the harrowing stare of lashless eyes. But last week, as March turned to April and the temperatures shot warningly up, we finally took the plunge and drove ourselves off to Fabindia, where we selected some fabric and cut it to size. We took it home, looped it over the waiting curtain rods to judge the effect, and approved the lot. We shrank the material. We dried it. Now all that remains is to give it to the tailor and sit back.
It would be unwise for me to assume that we’ll follow through and give it to the tailor anytime soon (we’ve already deferred it for three days), but after all that waiting, getting some curtains seems like such an easy, tiny little thing to do. It will both soften the house and greatly relieve the neighbours. I can’t imagine why it took us this long.
Now if we could only get ourselves to hang up our pictures.