Kani Kusruti for FWD Life Editorial

An abode of lost stories was hers to visit again.
There were times and people she left behind, she can’t remember when and whom. Not even when she waved goodbye to her defeated moments. Somewhere in the sprint of landscapes on her train ride, she got a glimpse of her ancestral home. She heard murmurs of familiar sounds echoing in her mind, sounds of her grandparents’ meek voices over their antiquated telephone, how they always asked whether she had grown out her gangly legs. But she couldn’t remember the stories of the trees, the paths she crossed or her home where her youth was left behind, where the rivers ran its length of her grandmother’s tall tales and a solitary swim in the nearby pond took her breath away.
For we are all people shaped like memories of things we left behind. But she, she was water. Some days, she could flow, lush out and capture banks. But lost in those woods that day, she was floating, like a leaf above a thick current. Still, suave, serene. If there was anything she loved more than her freedom, it is the way water sunk into her skin, Effortless, convincing, subtle.
The morning was shrill as the cool air prickled her skin after the swim. Draped in a thin cheesecloth, she ran into the deep forests of the estate and finally rested under the canopy of towering trees. She grew familiar to the colour of morning. Amidst the flowers she lingered, she slipped into her sewn petticoat lined with the scents of cardamom and sandalwood.
On the bark of the tree, she scribbled secrets and felt reassurance of protecting them in the roots of the ageing trees. Revisiting the old terrains, what was once written seemed so germinal, yet fresh as the fauna. As her feet seeped into the lush soil, her once forgotten lane suddenly seemed so clear.
The misty nights grumbled with the trundle of the train. She couldn’t believe that the house was a receding memory. For something that almost distanced itself to nowhere in her mind, was the nearest thing to her now. The train came to a halt, there was silence, smug.
The passenger seats seemed unfamiliar all over again. She laughed at it all, how her mind yearned for a childhood that was never hers. She wished for her grandparents’ peace. She closed her eyes and walked into a library of estranged wisdom. The train chugged along, she carried herself to a land of many stories, never to be who she was meant to be.
As the sun dipped, she awaited her grandmother’s tea parties. The garden was wellspirited with the hearty laughs of her cousins. She always felt the grass was greener on the other side, with the bloom of cotton sarees. There was something lighthearted in their conversations, tatters mentioning neighbour’s names.
Just an ear away, she hid against the stairwell to hear stories she would never read in her grandfather’s library. So temptingly she eavesdropped and learned how girls became women. But in time she realised she couldn’t take a step back, she was a woman now. The patio now stood idle with rusted tables, overlooking a garden that retired to a company of creepers.

Photographer: Jinson Abraham, Shot on: Nikon D810
Model: Kani Kusruti
Styling: Lakshmi Babu
Costumes: Anoop Aravind
Makeup & Hair Styling: Jeena
Retouch: Jemini Ghosh
Location Courtesy: Brunton Boatyard, Fort Kochi
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