Friday, December 27, 2013

Renato Redentor Constantino
December 26, 2013
The Family Files

It's the day after Christmas. Fixed breakfast for Kala and drove her to her office. I've had my double espresso and the day is crisp.

Luna is still asleep; I expect her to be up and about much later, when the day gets hotter. As for Rio, he's playing his computer war game. The boy's been awake since early in the morning playing with his puppy and Emil, who ultimately just wanted to be let out of the house, as usual.

Usual stinker for Rio -- Cosmo dumped in the garage, which is actually good. Unfortunately, Rio said the black pup did a once over as well -- twice over, actually -- right in front of their bathroom, just a few minutes after as he started booting up his machine.

Unlike the clackety footfall of Emil owing to the calm dog's naturally long nails, Cosmo's fat padded feet and quiet nature gives him uncannily super sneaky powers to disappear and relieve himself out of sight almost at will, to the constant consternation of Rio and Kala. But the pup's just so awfully charming and bouncy that he is often forgiven quickly. A quick play of fetch with his Barbie chew toy, Cosmo behaving like an ungainly cat bobbing across the floor and leaping after the doll with thick gangly legs, overly large ears flopping comically, and you laugh out loud from the utter silliness of the maladroit play.

Cosmo's one of many new things in the reincarnation of Capers, the remake of Kamuning Republic, which took a year to finish, and we're still far from done. But there is more space, more room to grow, more sky, more for the senses, more stories to tell..


Sunlight is streaming into the study. It lies between the bedroom and the balcony, which overlooks the street and is right below the room of Luna. From one end of the house to the other there is a long stretch of hallway and the line between workplace and bed and open air is always blurred, which is also how we've lived our lives. There are grills and doors and ink and paper, and there is soil and water,  ant queues, unruly piles of files amid the litter of discontent and restlessness.

On my bedside are four books I've been picking up and reading alternately since November -- the more I like a book, the longer it takes me to read it. There is the intensely stimulating The History of History by Vinay Lal, The House of Wisdom by the theoretical nuclear physicist Jim al-Khalili, the dreamy River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit, and William Dalrymple's excellent From The Holy Mountain.

I pick one up randomly daily, and maybe I'll walk about the house reading a few pages, a few passages, and maybe I'll carry it with me downstairs to be left at the dining table and to be picked up later once I'm back. Sometimes two are thrown inside the day's sling bag, to be exchanged with another book that will then be left on the bed, for another bedtime reading.

There are books for the Smoking Chair, a large, soft, red velvet chair we acquired from an antiques dealer, that we might as well call Sleeping Chair, because it makes its sitters drowsy with the help of the Ottoman stool from Dada Ming we reupholstered, switching from green faux leather to a deep red fabric. The chair's a proposition fraught with ancient alchemy. It stops time and picks up the errant idea that got snagged on the branch of a lean day growing out of a lean, forgotten year.

You sink down on the chair and lean back and lift up your feet, and you look out at the chesa, frangipani and caimito, and the lamp from Marrakech is swaying with the breeze, and you open a book and wake up on the other side. #

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