What do we miss a lot in Canada that we left behind in our home country? A discussion on this topic took place among us, international Ph.D. students, at a café at York University a few years ago. Many answers wrapped up with thoughts and emotions were expressed: monsoon rain, morning Azan, real taste and smell of authentic food, chaos and noise in a crowded city, and many more. My reply was ‘the rooftop’. Yes, my rooftop where hundreds of moments of my teenage life were shaped and manifested.
In absence of a rooftop culture in Toronto, I miss it, even more, these days. How was my rooftop that I am still longing for? Very ordinary without any artificial decoration, a rectangular empty space with a slightly uneven surface, covered with slippery green algae here and there. Yet, naturally decorated by the leaning top branches of deep green trees, Coconut, Mango, and Guava trees among others, creating a cool relaxing nest.
During summer days when the sun finally goes down and darkness gradually engulfs the sky, I would like to go there again, climbing the two stacks of stairs, taking a pillow and blanket with me to lie down on a boundary-less space, watch and count the stars, wonder about the grand scale of creation, and gather the small pieces of my imaginations under the ethereal moonlight. I would like to feel the warm monsoon rain on the palms of my hands, take a shower while singing, laughing, and jumping around the rooftop.
What else I used to do there?
I watched how caterpillars after eating mango leaves turned into a cocoon and then flew away as a butterfly just when I was not observing! In downtimes, the rooftop offered me a place for solitude, a shelter to feel sad and cry avoiding other eyes. Often, it turned into a super happy space where I had picnics with friends, and collected, produced, and executed girly gossips. Sometimes, the rooftop was my runway to practice catwalk for my imaginary modeling career (as the photo depicts)!!
Among all, the best memories are those evenings when my dad used to recite poems/or read novels to impress my Mum while enjoying the cool southerly breeze. Their poetic interactions made the rooftop a romantic space, a holder, and a medium of pure love and affection.
A seemingly abstract space, the rooftop of my home in Bangladesh is always vibrant and magical when you see through my eyes. Even after living in Canada for 12 years, I feel inspired by its magic.