The Echoing Walls.

31 August 2013.

It is past midnight and I am standing in front of a plain soft board, trailing my finger aimlessly on the rim of the shelf just above eye-level. In my mind, I had visualised this moment a hundred times already. From the 1st day of August, a weird fluttering in my heart kept making me conscious of the time ticking by. The month of many lasts. The beginning of the end!

A glorious picture had formed itself in my imaginings. A silent goodbye to the room that’s always made me feel safe, a quick (hope no one’s looking!) kiss on the door of House 34, as it shuts behind me. Shutting me out forever. A certain romanticism in the mere idea of a farewell…and yet nothing had really prepared me for this. This unnatural numbness I feel as I strip the room bare of everything, leaving it stark naked.

Just like the first day I entered it, almost a year ago. A new campus, a new experience…this house was an introduction to so much. Adapting to strangers and accepting their whims and fancies, living with their flaws and weaknesses. The door to my new room opened up so many possibilities on that very first day. As the days slipped into months, the room developed a character similar to mine. I love sitting by the window, so a chair adorned that corner and photographs from so many wonderful moments with friends quietly climbed on the walls and created a home for themselves. I am no interior designer and yet steadily I could see the room moulding itself to adapt me, to let me be.

Here I have spent many a mornings lazing around, aware that no one was there to coax me out of bed and such a blissful feeling that! Here I have sat and cursed those birds which decided to wake up even before it was time for me to sleep. Here is where I have learnt to take care of myself and here is also where secrets, confessions and midnight gossip sessions have taken refuge. This is where it began, and today here is where it ends.

Because the house is no longer filled and the room will no longer remain mine in a few more hours’ time. So just for tonight, I take a moment and relive everything. The scary creaks at midnight, the loud late night phone calls from the floor above. The gushing water waking me up each time someone used the bathroom and the freaky taps on the window a random Sunday morning. I sit here and wonder how the year just flew away. In between settling in and getting ready to move out, somewhere the coin dropped.

Perhaps it was habit, perhaps it were the moments spent in here…but an attachment developed. With something as inanimate as a house, and yet with something as real as a home. Where strangers from different ethnicities realised heart breaks are universal. Where single children learned to share space. Where one’s ego took a break. And where experiments in the kitchen improved not just digestion skills but also our confidences. Because these four walls have given us not just shelter from the rain, but also laughter despite the pain. From handling unruly flatmates to cleaning up toilets after each other, there is perhaps nothing I haven’t learnt to deal with in the past year.

There is just one grudge I would always hold against House No.34.

The house that gave me so much, never taught me how to say Goodbye…

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The Spilled Coffee.

22 August 2013.

Late nights are becoming a frequent phenomenon now. What with the submission date creeping closer by the day (or as I should say ‘night’). And to keep the sleepy eyes at bay, coffee stands guard. Making its presence felt, if need ever arise. In the frenzy of getting the word count to budge forward, I never noticed when a little elbow nudge pushed the coffee mug a little harder than expected. And before my flexes jumped into action, the liquid had spread itself across my neatly written-out notes. Wasting absolutely no time, the brown milky liquid definitely made its presence felt, albeit in quite an unnecessary way!

Shocked out of my wits, I rushed to save the drenched sheets but no amount of soaking up the moistness could avoid the stains from leaving their imprints behind. As I silently mourned at the damage, a grumpy conscience yelled from within: ‘Great! At least now you would listen to me…coffee is just not your cup of tea!’ Much as I appreciated my own joke, I had to accept it was the ultimate kind of climax to perhaps one of the worst days I’ve experienced in a long time.

You know those days when nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, goes your way. When you discover the main ingredient from the recipe is missing from your refrigerator and when that moment of panic sizzles into burnt food awaiting your palate. When you rush into town to keep an appointment only to realise the shop is shut down for some ‘unavoidable reasons’ and all that you can do now is enjoy the sun since obviously you’ve paid for the train ticket! And then you enter into a random argument with a neighbour when the fault is not even yours’. As if a magnet for bad moments, you feel something scurrying up your arm just while you are walking back home only to figure out a baby spider has decided to grant you a lifetime opportunity of becoming Spider-woman. Scratching away the itchiness, you enter into your room and the door slips out of reach. You leap, try to catch it before it bangs shut and realise you managed. Not to catch the door but to catch your finger in it. Swollen finger in hand and tears of frustration starting to brim, you switch on the laptop hoping to get ahead with your work. But a pure blank greets you there as well. Great, my mind seems to have declared a whimsical strike. And then the climax we started with; the spilled coffee.

Fuming and suddenly plain exhausted, I pick up the mug and stand it up on its rightful bottom. I peek in to see if any coffee actually managed to stay back in the mug and the sight that greets me, leaves me suddenly smiling. The coffee is all gone, but the sugar remains. Unstirred and adamant.

In a day that was obviously not mine, the sugar had stuck true. Sweetening my foul mood, bringing back the humour in the situation.

The only irony of the situation: I woke up this morning to find my brand new sugar packet completely vanished from the kitchen (and the whole house for that matter) and yet the day ends with such sweet realisation.

There’s no point crying over spilled ‘coffee’ when the unstirred sugar is your saving grace! 🙂


The eye of the storm.

17 August 2013.

The storm was brewing. Dark clouds began to gather and thunder rumbled. The overbearing sky left me feeling suffocated, the huge droplets sliding down my cheek chilled me. Goosebumps marked their way all along my arms and warmth evaded me. As I stood there shivering, never fully equipped to face the wrath of the weather, the pouring rain stopped me.

From walking ahead, from moving on.

The storm was brewing within. Dark thoughts began to gather and thunder rumbled. The overbearing jealousy left me feeling suffocated, the huge droplets sliding down my cheek chilled me. Goosebumps marked their way all along my arms and warm memories evaded me. As I stood there shivering, never fully equipped to face the wrath of the emotion, the lack of rationality stopped me.

From accepting my insecurity, from moving on.

It was me who felt all this, why then did the weather vocalise it…?

standing alone in the rain

Har ek friend jaroori hota hai!

5 August 2013.

The Friendship Day fever is still in the air and the dedicated status messages on Facebook are still doing the rounds. My Facebook friend list has 1000+ people in it; all of whom I know personally and yet I wasn’t tagged in a single post yesterday. No photos with me uploaded as cover pics but yes, I woke up to an inbox flooded with messages. All heartfelt, all true.

What once had started off as a competition between friendship bands has now dwindled into a calculation of text messages, fuelled by the occasional lunch meets and dinner dates. And yet there is something about Friendship Day that keeps bringing a smile on my face, year after year…

I sit back and wonder at this juncture…if someone asked me to define Friendship, what would I say?

Would there be a particular character sketch I would conjure up; or would it be one photograph that I would produce as an epitome?

I’ve been fortunate to have made friends (and quickly) wherever I went. And as expected, each friend has been different. Each person adding a layer, each personality enhancing mine.

She who let me hide my shyness behind her ‘bindaas’ attitude; he who pushed me forward to fight my own battles. She who knew me like the lines on her own hand and he who made me explore myself like never before. She who cried in my arms and he who wiped my tears. She who shocked me with her mad antics and he who ridiculed me over mine. She who reminded me of my own worth; he who provided the much necessary criticism to keep my feet on the ground. She who chides me over not sticking to the time given and he who makes me lose all sense of time. She who will never expose me and he who will always protect me.

At each bend of the road, I have found a He and She waiting for me. Today I have a wonderful mix of such people who keep an eye out and ears open for when I need them; and yet who never actually need that call. Who just know. Instinctively.

Like that random group chat that repeated its own history and got my stomach aching with so much laughter. Like that surprise package that landed in my postbox, having no sender name and yet speaking clearly through its contents. Like that movie marathon never complete without its last member and like that joke never funny without the third set of eyes as a witness.

Today all these people are across the screen, miles away. And yet this is exactly how I would define Friendship if anyone asked me tonight.

It is that feeling when even an empty room is capable of overflowing with just sheer memories.


The ignited spark.

31 July 2013.

I met him today, while I was out for my evening walk. Sweating and panting, I climbed the hill…my eyes focused on finding my path through the overgrown grass rather than look up ahead. Usually this part of the woods doesn’t have much traffic so I didn’t really bother. Until my eyes suddenly stopped at a pair of boots. I looked up with a start, straight into his eyes. My sudden surprise found reflection in his smile.

And in that spontaneous smile, I lost myself…

The first time I saw him was a few weeks ago. I got distracted from my game of badminton as he walked past. He walked away and without realizing it, took my heart with him as well. From the corner of my eye, I kept sneaking glances at him and I got my reward a few moments later when he raised his hand in a wave.

Then on, we crossed paths each evening.

Once or twice, I saw him walk over to where I played. His awkward walk, his eyes focused straight ahead…it was as though he had a resolve in mind. But courage failed him and just as he got close enough, I saw him turn around and walk back with just the parting smile. A few times he stood by, watching us play; following the shuttlecock with his gaze and smiling to himself.

And I was left wondering what went on in that mind then…

True to England’s nature, the rain poured down after a wonderful spell of sunshine. Evenings were now spent inside, playing cards or watching the rain cool the parched ground. His face eventually crossed my mind but I had no way of getting in touch. I know neither his name nor his language. Days passed, eventually a week went by without seeing him around. I convinced myself he must have forgotten me by now; it was after all, a matter of habit than acquaintance.

And then today, all of a sudden, we came face-to-face. He stopped, he smiled, he waved and he spoke.

“Di di…”

‘He’ is 2 years old and I know neither his name nor his language.

But the smile connects us, the spark of recognition unites us 🙂