“Casa Pupa” by Jeanny Gering, Lahore

Home October 18, 2011 01:43

topic: HOME medium: TEXT

as submitted for the “Home Sweet Home” Event

My family used to go on holiday to a farm house every year, for two weeks in the rural Portugal. The sea was not far away, you could smell it in the otherwise sun scorched air. My siblings and I would run around in the garden bare foot, needles from thin pine trees all brown and brittle in August, would prick in our soles. The farm had been turned into a holiday home with a pool, which we spent hours in practicing who could dive the best and who could stay under water the longest. I remember going to sleep with the windows open to warm summer nights and I could hear gentle chimes tinkle all around the garden.

In the daytime we often played amongst the trees, which were a fragrant mix of pine, eucalyptus, fig and orange trees. The branches were interlaced with strings of shells, often several strings of them hanging together and when the wind brushed through, a tickling melody of shells and leaves resounded. I remember these holidays of my pre-teen childhood through my skin and ears. It was always so hot we barely wore anything. The sun- and sea-filled air became another layer on my body. The farm was so remote that the sound of a single car or tractor would stand out in the otherwise whispering surroundings. I felt complete, in comfort with my whole family together in the late summers’ zest.

Years later my siblings and I returned with our partners and my sisters’ children to the farm in Portugal. In my family we all knew the place as “Casa Pupa” because of a little wooden sign outside the gate reading in faded blue letters “Bienvenido – Casa Pupa” One morning I cycled to the nearest village, it was still cool and the air was damp with dew. I was in the local bakery when a man who had spent his whole life here as a fisherman started chatting with me. As there rarely are tourists in the region the whole village usually knew of our arrival and he too guessed that I was one of the guests at “Casa Pupa”. What surprised me was when he asked me about the strings of shells in the garden. I assured him they were still there and asked how he knew about them. He told me that the farm was named after a girl who had gone to school with him around sixty years ago. She was nicknamed Pupa because of her doll like face and her sweet nature. “What happened to Pupa?” I asked, encouraged by his timid smile when he spoke about his classmate. “Pupa used to spend all her free time collecting shells because she loved the sea and the sand. She made those chimes in your garden. One day at tide she must have followed the shells too far and didn’t come back before the flood.”

This holiday the chimes of my childhood sounded different. They whispered softly of transience in a home of my memory.

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