The Face in the Window!


Is there a reason behind a face being etched in your memory; someone you hardly knew?

Photo by Mari Madriz on Unsplash

Last evening after Trataka (candle gazing meditation), I sat in silence with my eyes closed and allowed for thoughts to come and go and then she came into focus and stayed. Reena. Reena Mathew or Reena Sebastian? I fail to remember. Perhaps her husband was Sebastian Mathew. She took me down memory lane to when I was in grade two or three, aged six or seven. For some reason her face appeared to me as a black and white photograph. I have never seen a picture of her, so that is odd.

1980-81, Alwaye, Kerala. My grandfather was a doctor and at that time he had a little dispensary within the large compound and tended to patients with minor ailments. He had had two major heart attacks himself so he did things at snail’s pace. Personally, I think he was always like that being a Sagittarius. Laid back, independent in his own quiet way, naughty and a whole lot of fun. My mother is his youngest daughter of four children.

I was Muthachan’s, as I called him, self-proclaimed favourite grandchild. I am sure he must have given this impression to every single grandchild except my brother (the angry young man), though of all of us his hopes were on my brother to carry the tradition of medicine forward. (I can visualize my doctor brother rolling his eyes to this!) I used to look forward to my vacation because with him I was spoilt rotten and my tyrant of a mother had no say!! I am sure the gene of tyranny was from my grandmother who was quite the despot herself; at least to a child of seven. We grew close much later after my grandfather passed on.

Now, let me describe the house. It was huge and designed in a way that could have tenants living in too. As you entered the gate, the garage was to the right and to the left, a bit raised was the dispensary. Above it, on the first floor was a two-room set, I think. It was rented out to a dentist at that time for I had a tooth extracted. The main house was right in front, a little raised if I remember right. (Here, I must add that I did not inherit my father’s elephantine memory; that went to my brother. Plus, to this day I am not observant of surroundings/clothes/decor but I never miss the energies of a person) The best part of the home was the front door which was divided into four quarters (all four opened) and this tickled me. I had never seen it before or after. The house had three bedrooms, a longish drawing room and as you went in and down a couple of steps, a dining room, the kitchen and work area and then it opened out into a “parambu”(a courtyard that resembled a mini jungle to me full of trees, jackfruit, mangoes, coconut palms, papaya, pepper and a lot more which came with monstrous mosquitoes.

Between the dispensary and the main house was a two-bedroom house on the left and it was rented out to Reena. It was all into the wall so what we saw was just a door and a single window. And it here, that I first saw her. For some reason I called her Reena though she was married and had a daughter if I remembered right; a noisy baby. I wonder why I did, as it is customary in India to call everyone Aunty/uncle/brother/sister-anything but the name. My grandmother (I’ve mentioned in a previous blog) loved to show off the fact that her grandchildren spoke English well and she would ask me to go the front gate and call out to her and talk in English. It made her day and I happily obliged. On my way back from the gate Reena beckoned me to come to her.

She was bony. Large eyes drooped and dark circles around her eyes which made me like her instantly because my mother had dark circles around her eyes too and I remember praying to God to give me dark circles as well (how I am kicking myself now for that prayer). There was an air of melancholy around her that though I didn’t know what melancholy meant back then, I must’ve sensed it to describe it right now. She asked me my name and a few other questions and then she teased me distorting my name and I, fought back like a Pallas cat, no less! Perhaps, that’s why she remained Reena to me and not Aunty. I never went to her again for she was seldom visible though on rare occasion I’d see her and we would wave out at each other, me shy and still smarting and she grinning despite herself. I saw her husband go to work and I did not like him. No interaction but I just didn’t. Possibly, the fights that were audible and worse, discussed by the adults which I overheard.

She wasn’t there the next time around. They had left or were asked to leave because of the menace the man was or some such thing.

I remembered asking my grandmother where they went and then I got to know from her telling my mother that it was heard that she had committed suicide and that the daughter was left with that awful man. They all expressed sorrow, cursing the man and showing concern over the girl. I could only think of Reena; her smile, her face looking out of the window from behind the grills…

After nearly 41 to 42 years, why did she pop into my energy field, I wonder and like a black and white, rather a sepia photograph. Maybe, she found her peace and forgave everyone. Maybe she came to bless her daughter for something important and stopped by to say Hi, while I was having a rough time myself!







  1. How vividly put across... like watching it through your eyes !

  2. Your blog took me back to my childhood visits to Kerala! The house, the cow shed (in my case), the parambu, the entrance door divided into 4 parts.. I remember finding a new nook and a new cranny every holiday. Discovering something new in the massive house that housed 10 children apart from the patriarch and the matriarch! As for Reena… you are right.. some faces just come back to you for no rhyme or reason… at the moment I am struggling to think of a face or an instance… But you will hear about it on WhatsApp when I do!
    P.S. I have so missed reading your blogs… I am finally back 🤩

    1. I am so glad it did! You have seen that door too!! it is non-existent now, I think. You said it!!!! Oh yes! I will now let you in on a secret! ;) I've missed you too! :) Welcome back!!


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