when i was 9 years old my parents built our house. i was at the age where my father still indulged my fantasies and i still believed everything he told me. when we moved back to Nepal the house was still under construction and since i had never been consulted on what i wanted, i took it upon myself to make requests.
“can we have a garden?” i asked and my father said “yes!” and even though i saw walls outline our property which left little space for greenery, i knew my dad wouldn’t let me down. so i went further.
“can we have a large tree in the garden so i can sit under and read?” with genuine certainty he said, “of course!” and i dreamed of the comforts of the shade i would sit in, the novels i would explore, and the joy that i would find.
but my demands did not end there. one day, precarious, knowing what i was asking was big, i posed my desire a little differently, “do houses in Nepal have swimming pools?” my father smiled down at the under-grown child that i was, “until now no house in Nepal has a swimming pool, but if you want one…why not?” i was ecstatic and since i would be getting a garden, my tree, and a swimming pool, my final request didn’t seem so far stretched.
“can i paint my room red?”
having shared a room with my sister all of my extremely long 9 years, the prospect of having my own room was of paramount significance. getting my own wardrobe, getting my own bed (verses the bunk bed we shared) getting my own space…the possibilities seemed endless. and red being my favorite color at that time…well, it would define my room and it would be what made the room mine.
i watched pillars go up. i watched bricks fill in the spaces between pillars. i watched cement fill in bricks. i watched wondering where the garden would go, where the swimming pool would be, where exactly in the garden i’d have my tree.
it must have been long before we moved in that i realized most of my demands would not be met. i supposed it didn’t matter too much, there were other childhood things to experience and there was still the interiors i had yet to see. it took a while for our house to be ready, so we lived in a few different places before settling in. i don’t remember the day we moved. but i remember noticing the color in each room.
they picked the same creamy yellow for every room in the house. my own small matchbox of a room included. maybe it’s looking back, maybe it’s my memory, but i remember feeling the most disappointed over the lack of rouge on my walls. it did slightly irk me that my sister had wanted spiral stairs, and there they were, prominent and leading up to the open roof. never mind the garden, never mind the tree, never mind the pool.
i had really wanted that red room.
in later years, when i was in college, my parents manged to buy the land next to our house, and they turned into a garden. when i saw it for the first time, my dad–older and no longer my idol of perfection–said to me, “you know your mother and i fought over how to make the garden–i wanted a tree in the middle so you could sit and read.”
17 years later, i’m living on my own with friends and we decided to paint our rooms. after weeks of contemplating, after several more weeks of delay, i choose my color. 17 years later i now have red spread on one wall and the ceiling. my other three walls are a very complimentary tan-ish/beige. and i finally have a room that feels like it belongs to me. that is marked by my presence…and my personality.
while painting with two of my friends, i watched the colors change the room and it turned me back into a child.
“do you know i’ve wanted a red room since i was 9?”
they smiled at me and watched as i randomly leaped up exclaiming “i love it!” there was such a thrill in watching the room transform. there was such ownership being picky over details, of getting edges right, of making sure the paint dried into the same shade. and now, it’s all done. the walls are painted, my room has been rearranged, and i feel a certain glee that is only possible if your inner child is well and kicking.
funny thing, red isn’t my favorite color anymore…it hasn’t been since i was 10, but in the end, it was the only color that seemed fitting.