I came back to the hostel after the clinic. Shylaja was in the room.
“Oh Hi. Is your parents now staying in Bangalore?”
“Yeah” I replied
“What number bus you take to go there?”
I knew she was trying to verify the fact that I am indeed going home and not anywhere else!
“140. I can also take 145 to Neelasandra, but I have to walk a bit”
“Hmm” I replied.
I didn’t know what Shylaja’s problems were. I have a right to live my life the way I want. Even if I was going to someone else’s house, It shouldn’t be of any concern to Shylaja. She wasn’t my door keeper.
I wondered when Beautiful eyes would return. I missed him. I missed talking to him. I hoped he would be safe.
I thought fighting a war was fine as long as it didn’t kill him. Then I realized, Gosh I am a hypocrite. It didn’t matter to me that others are getting killed! As long as he didn’t get killed, I was fine with war.
In my heart I knew war was never an answer. Every war kills someone’s son/husband/father/brother*. Yet what do I tell someone who just wants his freedom? How do I tell him that it is nothing but the destiny of Naga people to live under Indian rule? I didn’t know the answer.
Every morning I woke up hoping that he would come back today. Every evening I went to sleep hoping and feeling that he would surely be back tomorrow.
I refused to even think that something would happen to him. I refused to let the fear rule over me. But still I was worried, each day that he didn’t come back a part of me was afraid. A part of me wanted to tell him so badly that, enough of this fight. May be he should let someone else continue the fight. He doesn’t have to be the one that fights, we are both going to be doctors, we can live happily in Bangalore. We can even go to US and work. I wanted to tell him that I can’t live in fear like this forever. But I knew I had no right to tell him that. He chose how he wants to live his life and who was I to tell him otherwise?
I was doing my Pharmacology assignment
“Nina phone for you” I heard someone shouting my name and I ran all the way to the phone room. There was only one person who would call me at night.
“Hello” I spoke
“You’re in my heart,
you’re in my soul
You’ll be my breath should I grow old
I started to laugh. I was so relieved to hear his voice. Besides I knew the song. Rod Stewart’s You are in my heart. He continued to sing
You are my lover,
you’re my best friend
You’re in my soul
My love for you is immeasurable
My respect for you immense
You’re ageless, timeless, lace and fineness
You’re beauty and elegance
You’re a rhapsody, a comedy
You’re a symphony and a play
You’re every love song ever written
But honey what do you see in me
The phone went quiet
“Hello” I said again wondering what happened
He sang again
“But honey what do you see in me?”
“Oh that. That is very easy.You have the most mesmerising eyes in the world. I can look at it for ages and still not be bored”
“Only my eyes”
I wanted to tell him that he had kissable lips, but I had the guts to think, not enough guts to tell him that.
“when did you come back?”
“Changing the topic?”
“hmm” I agreed
“Why are you so shy?”
“I am not”
“ok. Can you skip clinics tomorrow?”
Tomorrow would be my first day at Paediatrics. I wanted to see him. I had to see him
“I missed you”
I put the phone down. Rod Stewart was singing in my head and my feet was dancing. It felt so good. It felt so good to know that he is alive and that he is mine!
He was waiting for me at the bus station.
“Where do you want to go?”
“Same place where we went last time?”
“hmm” I nodded
“You liked the place?”
This time, I didn’t struggle as much as I followed him up the hill. Methran Thambi’s grand daughter didn’t really forget her climbing skills!
As we stood under the big rock I noticed there were cigarette butts scattered here and there.
I looked around to see if anyone was around. He saw the butts too
“Don’t worry Nina, you are safe” he spoke as though he understood what I was thinking
He sat down.
I sat down next to him. I looked at him. He was looking at me and both of us smiled
“So how is the new place in Bangalore?”
“It is a small house. Two bed room and a small kitchen and a smaller washroom”
“Do you like it?”
I looked at him. Do I like the house?
“I like the house, but my dream house is different”
“What is your dream house?”
“Well, in the olden days they used to have nalu kettu in Kerala. The basic idea is, there is a open air courtyard inside the house. So you can sit inside your house and watch the rain!”
“Do you like rain?”
“I love rain. I love the rain in Kerala. It is so magical. The monsoon comes after two months of scorching heat, and within a few days, the earth looks so different, everything is glossy green and you feel like you are reborn! as though you have been given another life, another chance to live and enjoy your life”
“So you want to go back to Kerala?”
“I don’t know”
“What do you mean?”
“I miss Kerala, I miss every bit of my life in Kerala, but there is nothing to go back to, besides my life is more comfortable in Bangalore”
“You have heard of Rousseau?”
I shook my head
“The paradox is, every urban dweller misses his home or roots in the village, yet he doesn’t want to go through the discomforts the village life offers”
“Oh That is so true. That is so very true. You know, My dad’s home in Kerala, the home alone is on a two acres of land. There is a well that always has water even during the summer months. But somehow I am so comfortable in the two room tiny house in Bangalore, even though we only get piped water every alternate days. I miss my home, but I don’t want to live there. It is a paradox!”
“What about you?” I asked him
“My dream home is always the same. A simple house in my village with my beautiful wife and lots of kids”
“how many kids?”
“As many as you want”
“oh like that”
“like that!” he nodded his head
“How many kids do you want?” He asked while massaging the small of my back
“5? why 5?”
“It is a long story. When I was little my mother used to say she wanted sons. after my youngest sister was born, Amma was so depressed. So my oldest sister told her that she will give her grand sons. Actually 12 grand sons”
“Do you know why she wanted 12 sons?”
He shook his head
“So she can name them like the 12 disciples of Jesus. I wanted daughters and I could only get 5 names for girls that I liked in the bible. I wanted Rachel, Esther, Ruth,Hannah and Rebecca”
He started to laugh
“Why are you laughing?”
“I was just picturing your sister naming her sons Mathew Mark and Luke..”
“Do you know how worried I was?”
“Can you imagine having a nephew named Judas?”
We both started to laugh. It was really funny, but in my heart I also knew my sister is wasting away her youth and that she will not get a chance to get married and have kids as long as she was with George. I shook my head, hoping I can shut that truth out. I didn’t want to ruin a good time I was having right now. But some truths won’t go away even if you shake your head. It claws your conscience. It makes you feel guilty that you are having a good time, while your sister is suffering.
*I didn’t know any female soldiers at that time.. so politically correct way would be every war kills, someones daughter/son.mother/father,sister/brother, husband/wife.
“In every city dweller there is a displaced yearning for the rustic farm and land, the taste of the homegrown, all the natural foods. The paradox is that we do want authentic country flavors and integrity, but we do not seek the discomforts of the simple life, so we rediscover regionalism vicariously amid modern convenience and luxury.”