Three day road.

My son’s class teacher told me about the book she gave her teenager as a Christmas gift and was never read the first four month of the year and was finished in 2 days in the 5th month.

I had not heard of the author before and didn’t want to waste money buying a book I might not like. So I decided to borrow from the library and I was number 21 in the waiting list !. That alone should have told me something.. But like they say there is no cure for ignorance.

I got the book three days ago on 2 weeks loan..
It was a Hardcover copy..
Years of living in India and reading paperbacks has made me kind of hate holding hardcover books in my hand.. They feel too heavy..
So the book stayed on my table.

I was curious to know what “Three day road” actually means. Why three day? Why not four days? I started reading the book this morning just to find out what three day road means.. I was going to stop reading the book as soon as I found the answer.. ( there is so much to do and I didn’t want to waste time reading a book that I probably didn’t like !)
I read all the way to page 207 to find what three day road means… and still didn’t stop..

It is one of the best books I have read..
Simply captivating..

Three day road by Joseph Boyden.. Worth reading..( more so when mind is so restless.. house is so messy and life is just not what is supposed to be!)

I had to remove the ‘followers’ widget because IE won’t let me access the blogger and was shutting down. Removing the followers widget worked..Hopefully blogger will fix the bug in the system.

Everyone went back home, no doubt eager to tell friends and family about the Naga guy who died tragically in a bike accident. How some girl had broken his heart. And of course talk about the song he sang for the annual Christmas party.
Those were all the key ingredients for hot gossip.
Who would have thought that underneath all the juicy details there was me?
Who would have known that I lost my soul mate?
Who cared?

Each time I closed my eyes his smiling face came in to view and then it get all bloodied. I opened my eyes, hoping the image would just go off. Eventually my eyes were tired of the open and shut game and the room walls started to close in on me.
I had to escape.
I didn’t know.
I ran out of the room and went and sat outside the main gate.
The basketball court was empty.
Workers were sitting in front of the mess and chatting. I was sure they would be discussing why I didn’t go home.
I wondered if anyone knew that my Home was a prison and I was sentenced to life imprisonment.
I doubted !
To an Indian, Home was akin to heaven and mothers were goddesses.
How could I change anyone’s view? What was the point in even trying to attempt to change the view? I would still be labeled as a bad daughter.
Who was I kidding? I wondered.
What is more bad than what I did?
I broke his heart.
I didn’t even visit him in the hospital.
I didn’t go for the funeral.
I tried, I tried so much to go for the funeral. Arjun had already finished all the practicals and he stayed back for Rupesh to finish his exams.
I begged him to take me to the funeral. I had never been to a funeral before and I was so afraid to go alone.
What would I have told his father?
That I am the bitch who broke his son’s heart? His father needed to know that,
He deserved to know that, Didn’t he?
Arjun didn’t understand why I wanted to go for some stupid guy’s funeral and I didn’t tell him the truth.
I should have.
I really should have.
It was the biggest opportunity I had to tell Arjun that I never loved him anyway.
But I didn’t.
I couldn’t.
Arjun held the key that would let me escape my jail. I just wanted to escape.. far far away..

What was the point in living like this? I wondered.
I couldn’t kill myself, because no one would marry my sisters.
I would never live, because I lost my soul mate.. and even if i wanted to give life a second chance no one would marry me because of my sister.

I felt so helpless.

Sun was setting in the distant. I stretched my legs and leaned against the wall and watched the sun set..
I loved to watch sunsets.
But this time It didn’t make any difference. Some splashes of orange and red colour on the sky..nothing much.. nothing remarkable.
Then I realized,
There would be another day tomorrow and another sunset..
I can still be sitting here tomorrow and watch the same thing..
And the day after that..
and the day after that..
And nothing would make a difference.

Just as my grandmother sat on that parapet wall and kept on looking in the distant knowing very well that she lost him, but still looking, still hoping..

I was the New Thangamma.. bearer of family curses, payer of the sins of forefathers.
There was no escape.. Some sins just can’t be paid off.

I didn’t go home for Christmas.
There was nothing there to go back to.

I wrote my internals well, so did the externals. Especially the pharmacology. I answered every single pharmacology question and I knew I will get good marks.

Now only the practicals were left. Being the last batch because of my surname, my batch was the first to have Micro practicals and the last for Pharmacology. There was a two day gap between Patho and Pharmacology practicals. I hated having a surname with T. if I had a name startying with A, I would be home in three days istead of 5 days!
but then againt there was nothing to go back home to. Was there?
But still !!
I did Micro practicals well. It was scary becauee it isn’t often my batch gets to go for the practicals first. None of us knew what to expect. But it was easy.
I spend my first day off by going to the rooms of other students who had already gone for the practicals to learn more about the examiners.
I still had another day off and was planning to sleep late. But something made me get up early in the morning. I looked out of my window abd it was very misty. I remember thinking, it feels so creepy. I wanted to go back to bed, when Anitha ran in to my room.
“Did you hear”
“There was a bike accident”
Something in me turned off at that moment. I understood everything Anitha said, yet i understood nothing.
I walked out of my room
Some of the girls were crying.
I walked to the main door.
One of the Punjabi guy from my class was standing near the hostel entrance. He was collecting money.
For what? No one asked.
I sat on the steps.
I heard students discussing that he is in Coma and that he will be a vegetable even if he survives.

The punjabi guy was still standing there, waiting eagerly for the blood money he can collect and can spend on a night out in the pubs. Bastard.
I walked back to my room.
Aparna and Shylaja were getting ready to go for their practicals.
“Did you hear?” They asked in unison
I nodded my head
“So sad No?” One of them spoke.
I didn’t reply.

I was sure I was supposed to cry, howl like a banashee, like the scenes from the Hindi movies. Break my bangles, pull my heair out, tear my clothes.
I didn’t feel anything.
I tried lay down on my bed. I couldn’t.
I wanted to feel something.
Something, anything.
No this was all a joke. An early April fool joke.
It has to be.
I quickly got up and opened the door.
Some of the seniors were standing outside the corridoor and were talking about the prognosis.
I shut the door quickly.
Then i felt something
I felt it.
No tears
I was just so angry,
I threw the pillow, the blanket the books on the table, the flask, the cup. then I went through my cassette collection and pulled out the brown tape out of the Bob Marley Cassette. It felt so good to pull it out. The tape started to coil down near my feet and I kicked it as hard as I can.
Damn the tape.
Then I saw the mess I made.
I took the blanket and the pillow from the floor and kept it on my bed. took the books from the floor and kept it on my desk.
My flask was broken.
I was sad.
Appa bought that flask for me.

I took 2 valium. I had to.

I tought of going to the hospital to see him. But I didn’t want my memories of him with tubes and needles sticking out of him. I couldn’t do it.

His funeral was in the afternoon. I had Pharmacology Viva in the afternoon. If I didn’t give the Viva, I would fail, because my batch was the last. I remembered Amma talking about my cousin who wrote her degree final exam the day after her father’s death.
i don’t remember walking to the Pharmacology lab. But I ndo remember standing outside and waiting for my turn. It was a very cloudy day and there was a sudden burst of sunlight. I wondered if the sun trying to mock me.
I passed Pharmacology with flying colours.. yet I failed!

Baby I am so sorry.
I never stopped loving you.
When I hear Greenday singing Time of your life, I keep thinking of you.
I know I hurt you.
I am so sorry.
If I was any wiser I would have never missed your funeral.
But I wasn’t.
I would do anything to undo the past.
You and I know that is n’t going to happen

If you had gone today, this is the poem I would recite for you.

A man lives so many different lengths of time.
How long is a man’s life, finally?
Is it a thousand days, or only one?
One week, or few centuries?
How long does a man’s death last?
And what do we mean when we say, ‘gone forever’?

Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.
We can go to the philosophers,
But they will grow tired of our questions.
We can go to the priests and the rabbis
But they might be too busy with administrations.

So, how long does a man live, finally?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret, and ask so many questions
Then when it comes to us
The answer is so simple

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
For as long as we ourselves live,
Holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch:
His children will carry the weight of his love.
One friend will carry his argument,
Another will hum his favourite tunes,
Another will still share his terrors.

And the days will pass with baffled faces,
Then the weeks, then the months,
Then there will be a day when no question is asked
And the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach,
And the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased,
But will have ceased to be separated by death.
How long does a man live, finally?

A man lives so many different lengths of time

Brian Patten

I would surely play Willie Nelson and Bon Jovi singing

And surely the same song I would want for my own funeral

Goodbye sweetheart.

It was the day of the College Christmas party. All the girls were busy getting ready. Most of them had their shower in the morning, just to be on the safer side.
Dhobi was busy ironing the sarees and blouses.
“What saree are you going to wear?” Aparna asked. Her mother had send her a brand new kanjeevaram saree. I had no one to send me a saree. I had thought of going home and taking one of Amma’s sarees. But all her silk sarees were from George. She had given all the sarees Appa got for her to chechy, so chechy could wear a different saree each day.
No one cared if I had anything.
“I am wearing the green colour saree” I spoke
“Didn’t you wear that the last time?”
“I guess. Yeah”
“Oh” Aparna didn’t know what else to say.
Perhaps she understood that no one really cared about me.
I wanted to say something and clear her misunderstanding. But I was tired of trying to build the walls to protect myself. May be it was time to let everyone know that I was all alone, that I had no one, that my family is totally screwed up, that I am a two timing bitch.

I wore the saree. My neck was bare. I looked as though I joined the Pentecost church. I wore my cardigan, hoping that would hide my bare neck. At least it covered my bare arms.
“Our program is right after Vidya’s dance” Anitha came in to the room to let me know.
“meet me at the back stage once Vidya is on the stage. Ok?”
“Don’t forget”
“No I won’t”

I remembered the last Christmas. It felt like a dream.
But it wasn’t a dream.
I didn’t want to go for the party. But I didn’t want to miss a chance to see him.
I waited for all the students to leave, I had planned to stand by the canteen like the last time. I had no plans to sing the Christmas carol.
By the time I reached the canteen, Princy was already giving the inauguration speech. The canteen lights were turned off, which was good for me.
“Where were you? I have been waiting for you for so long. My God, you women take so long to get dressed” Arjun was walking towards me.
“Come, everyone is waiting for you”
“Where are you going?” I asked
“Over there, we saved a chair for you”
“No it is ok Arjun, I will wait here. I have to sing the carol”
“Don’t be silly. Your carol is after Vidya’s dance. I had already checked it. Come let us go” Arjun held my elbow and started to guide me.
Arey bhabi, where were you. Your man was almost going crazy waiting for you” Rupesh spoke.
I didn’t reply. I had nothing to say.
“Come, sit” Rupesh pointed to the two chairs.
Arjun sat next to me.
Princy was going on and on and i looked around to see the one familiar face in the sea of all the happy faces.
Sometime later, I noticed Arjun’s hand was resting at the back of my chair.
I leaned forward.
The mike system was totally screwed up and Pricy’s voice was turning out to be muffled. Perhaps he understood it was time to stop. He then passed the mike to Vice princy, who started the speech in Kannada.
My back was beginning to ache and I so very badly wanted to lean back on the chair.
I looked at Arjun to see if he would take his hand off. He was busy listening to the Vice Princy’s
I closed my eyes hoping I can just disappear. But images and memories have a way to haunt you, when you just want a moment of peace and tranquility.
Someone fixed the mike and Vice Princy’s voice boomed, scaring the wits out of me.
Arjun and Rupesh were talking something. I looked around again to see if he was around.
There was a lame skit by Ramesh and gang that invloved naming 5 animals without tails.
“2 Gorillas,2 orang Utans and 1 Chimpanzees”
Everyone was laughing. I didn’t find anything funny, but i still laughed. lest I be classed as insane though I was already among the insane.
I was so bored.
I started to multiply in my head
1 x2, 2 x2, 4×4, 16 x 16……..
Te Emcee announced the next program, I wasn’t paying attention and then I heard someone strumming the guitar. I looked at the stage.
He was standing there and he started to sing
Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me baby
Do you recognize me?
It’s been a year
It doesn’t surprise me

“Happy Christmas”
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying “I love you”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special
oh oh baby

A crowded room
Friends with tired eyes
I’m hiding from you
And your soul of ice
My god I thought you were
Someone to rely on
I guess I was a shoulder to cry on
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover but you tore me apart
oh oh
Now I’ve found a real love you’ll never fool me again
Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you mine)
A man under cover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year I’ll give it to someone
I’ll give it to someone special.
so long

I got up from my chair.
“Where are you going?” Arjun asked
“Choir” I mumbled.
He got up and gave me space to walk.

The bitter tears didn’t start to fall till I was halfway to the hostel.

I bought Patho and Pharmacology text book. I didn’t have money to buy Micro text book. I will have to rely on Ramesh’s notes and Sumi’s text book. I hoped she wouldn’t ask the book back before the exams.

I thought of going to the canteen and staking out. But I had so much to study and I still had plenty of time to sort out my personal problems later. After all it was all a misunderstanding.

Sometime around 5 pm I heard someone knocking at the door
“come in” I called
“Ma’am someone is waiting for you at the canteen” A very timid Junior girl whispered.
“I don’t know his name ma’am”
I was wearing a very old t shirt and jeans. I didn’t even bother to change my clothes. I ran all the way to the canteen.
Boy was I thrilled and excited!.

Arjun and Rupesh were sitting outside. I pretended I didn’t see them and quickly tried to sneak inside the canteen.
“Hey Nina, here” Arjun waved.
I had no choice but to acknowledge.
“Arjun, give me a sec” I walked inside the canteen and looked around. I was pretty sure I would find him inside.
He wasn’t there.
I refused to accept that it was Arjun who send the word.
I looked again.
Nope, he wasn’t inside.
I walked out quietly.
Arjun was looking at me
“What’s up?”I asked Arjun
“What were you ding inside? Who were you looking for?”
I knew he wouldn’t had the guts to stomach the fact that I was technically two timing him and was looking for the love of my life.
“I was looking for Anitha”
“Oh! I saw her walking towards the gallery few minuets ago” Rupesh spoke
“Right. Sorry Arjuhn, I have to go now. I have choir practice”
“choir practice? Now?”
“yeah for Christmas Carol”
“Are you crazy? You are wasting your time. Don’t you know the internals will start in 2 weeks?” Arjun asked
I looked at him and smiled the 70mm smile.
“I finished studying already” I fibbed and started to walk towards the canteen.

I never missed a single carol practice. He missed every single practice.

I wasn’t going to give up.
No I wasn’t.
I contemplated sitting in the canteen and waiting for him to come back. But I had to sleep off my head ache.
With a heavy heart I walked back to the hostel.
But I was determined. I will talk to him. I have to talk to him.

In the evening Anitha came to my room and was discussing the case they saw in the morning. My headache was gone and I was trying to study.
I couldn’t concentrate. I was trying to figure out a way to contact Beautiful Eyes. Then I figured I will Phone him. I couldn’t do that from the campus, someone would hear me asking for him. I will call him from the corner shop near home. Anyway I had to go home to buy the textbooks. I will do it tomorrow. I felt good, because it was a brilliant plan.
“oh, I am late. The practice is supposed to start at 6PM” Anitha got up to go
“What practice?” Shylaja asked
“Christmas Choir” Anitha spoke
Christmas Choir? Artaban!
“Wait, I am coming with you”
“You are coming for the choir practice?” Anitha was staring at me
Yeah the practicing Atheist still has a use for the choir practice! I thought of telling her.
“I thought you were never interested in prayer meetings and choir practice. What changed you? Wait Don’t answer. I know the answer. God heard our prayer. We have been praying for you”
I had thousands of reasons I could use to argue and tell her there is no God. But it wasn’t the right time to do so.
There were so many students in the gallery,everyone except the one I was looking for.
One mallu junior was strumming the guitar. He was so off key. Someone would notice it, I was sure and would call the campus guitarist. I was hopeful.
I watched everyone trying to add their favourite carol song. Then someone asked me what is my favourite Christmas carol.
“Blue Christmas” I replied without hesitation. I didn’t want to forget. I didn’t want anyone to forget him. Perhaps I also hoped that when he hears that I voted for blue Christmas, he would remember.
“Blue Christmas?” Anitha stared at me.
I never understood why people associate Christmas with Jingle bells and silent night. But it wasn’t my place to argue or explain. I was a practicing Atheist.
Jomon had reluctantly given the Choir master post to one of his junior. He was writing the final year and probably didn’t have time. I watched the new guy acting as though he was God almighty. I promised myself that I would never be like that. I will never forget where I came from.
I waited and waited for the one person t arrive. he never came. I was disappointed. But I still had hope. I still had tomorrow and the day after.. and the day after…

I had so much to study.. I didn’t want to fail, so I took the book and started to read. I wasted so much of time already and I hated the thought.

In the morning, instead of going for the morning rounds, I went back home. I got off near the temple and walked to the corner shop. The mallu owner looked at me
“You owe 135 Rs” He spoke as soon as he saw me.
“What?” I asked him
“You owe 135 Rs. You have to pay”
“Are you crazy? How do i owe you 135 Rs? I don’t even buy anything from your shop”
“Your sister said you will pay”
“Huh? Which sister?”
edei aa pennintey peru enna?” ( what is that girl’s name) The guy asked his sidekick
“Lisa Akka”
“She told you that I will pay?”
“Yes Akka”
I was fuming. I wanted to ask him to ask my sister to pay. Nobody asked him to give her stuff on credit. he took that risk himself and why should I pay? I never promised anything.
But I was helpless. I hated my sister. I hated her for dragging my name in the mud. But she was still my sister and I will always have to clean up after her. I had enough money to buy text books. After paying this guy, I won’t.
I took the money from my wallet and paid.
“The next time you give her stuff on credit, you get her to pay. This is the last time I will pay. Do you understand that?” I asked him.
He nodded his head. But his facial expression looked as though he was looking at the meanest sister on planet earth.
“Can I make a local phone call?”
I didn’t wait for his response. I reached across the counter and took the phone from his desk. I dialled the Men’s hostel number and asked to speak to Beautiful Eyes.
A few minutes later I heard the sweetest “Hello” His voice sounded so calm and peaceful.
“Hi, this is Nina” I spoke.
There was absolutely no sound from the other side. then I heard the distinct sound of the phone being disconnected.
No it can’t be.
May be the connection was bad. After all this is India.
I dialled the number again.
It took a long time before someone answered.
“Can I speak to Beautiful Eyes?” I asked
“He is not here, Can I take a message?”
I got the message loud and clear.

I walked home.
The main door was open. I opened the gate and walked up the stairs. Amma was sitting by the door and she leaned across to see who was coming.
“What are you doing here?” Amma asked.
I noticed she was applying hair colour. She had an old torn towel on he shoulder to prevent any spillage from staining her old torn house coat.
“Tell your daughter that I won’t pay her bills anymore” I hissed.
Ninakkenna vattu elakiyo, keri vannilla athinu mumbey chadan thudangiyo (Have you gone mad? You haven’t even stepped inside the house and already started yelling?”
“You tell your daughter that this was the last time I paid her bills” I repeated
“what are you talking about?”
“Your wonderful daughter convinced the corner shop guy to give her stuff on credit and told him that I will settle the bills”
“Which daughter?”
“Lisa” I screamed
“Lisa? Why would she do that? That guy might have got it wrong. Must be some other Lisa”
“You keep living in your world of denial. One day you will realize that you destroyed all your children’s life”
Bha! Amma spat on the ground Podi (get lost). She has come to give me advice. Kandavantey ellam purakey nanavillathey nadakkunna nee enikku upadesham tharan vannekkunno? ( A biitch like you trying to give me advice?”
There was nothing else to say. So I walked out. Hoping and hoping that this be the last time I come to this house. But I knew I wasn’t that lucky!

Exactly at 9 AM, I walked to the canteen. All those attending the clinics had already gone to the hospital and the first year students were already at the gallery.
I could hardly open my eyes because the morning sun was further hurting my head. But I had to endure it. There was no choice.
There were few seniors in the canteen. The guys who had cars/ bikes who doesn’t need to take the bus to the hospital.
They were staring at me. Did they know? I wondered. I felt guilty. I will fix it today. I told myself.
I ordered tea and found a place to sit. I waited for the seniors to leave.
As soon as they left, I went to the canteen operator and asked him to send message to the Men’s hostel.
“Can you please tell ‘beautiful eyes’ that I want to see him”
The operator looked at me quizzically.
I wasn’t going to explain anything.
“Sure ma’am”
I watched him call one of his helper and telling him to go to the hostel and call ‘beautiful eyes’
That boy must have only been around 11 or 12 years old. Isn’t there a law in this country about employing children?
But I wanted the message to be send and I couldn’t care who the messenger was.
A little while later I saw the boy coming out of the men’s hostel. He was alone.
As soon s he came in to the canteen I asked him
“Did you tell the message?”
“Yes Akka” he nodded
“What did he say?”
The boy shook his head.
“Did you see the tight person? How does he look?” I questioned the boy.
He was adamant he saw the right person.
Who employs children? I wondered. It was so frustrating.
I looked at the canteen operator. he was busy stashing Ciggies under the counter.
“Did he say what time he is coming?” I asked the boy again
“No Akka”
Arghhhh. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t, because my head was on fire.
I went back and sat down on the chair. My tea was cold and I wasn’t thirsty. So I just left it.
There was nothing much I could do but to wait.
I closed my eyes and waited.
I knew he would come.
I knew.
Time flies…The time I had earmarked to study was flying. I knew I should go back to the hostel and either sleep off the migraine or study.
But I need to see him.
I checked my watch.
9.30 AM
He must be getting ready. He must have taken his shower. It is just a matter of few more minutes, for I was sure he would come.
There was few microscopically tiny drops of water inside my watch. Damn. It formed a cute circle in the middle of the glass covering the dial.
I took my watch off my hand. The leather strap was stinking. I used the end of my salwar duppatta and wiped the glass cover.
Stupid, the moisture was inside, how can you wipe it off from the outside? I admonished myself.
I needed a new watch. One of those fancy pansy Timex watch. The one with tiny white stones in the dial. Fake diamonds.
I remembered my first watch. Appa gave to me before he left to work overseas. I never knew why he gave it to me and not to Chechy. It had silver straps and it was so big. Every time I tried to wear it I couldn’t lift my hand. Not because the watch was too heavy, but because my arm was pencil thin and the watch would go all the way past my elbow.
Amma wouldn’t shorten the strap because she didn’t want to ‘damage’ the watch. I used to keep that watch on my bed. Any time I missed my dad, I would sniff the watch. it still had his smell. Then one day the watch disappeared. Years later, I leaned my mother gave that watch to my cousin in an act of generosity and he pawned it the very next day and never bothered to pay back the pawn shop and collect the watch.
Except for the two birthmarks on my hand I had nothing to remember my father. Nothing.

It was the same as the story of Esau. Only in reverse. I was the second! The rightful loser.

I could smell potato pailiya being cooked. I normally loved the smell of potato, especially when you mash the hot potato. But right now I hated it. The smell only made my headache worst.
I checked the watch again. 9.4o AM. Time stopped flying. It was dragging now. May be my watch was showing the wrong time
bhaiiyya What time is it?” I called out. Those few spoken words almost killed me.
“9.40 Ma’am” He spoke.
There was so much of noise coming from the canteen kitchen. Someone was singing a Tamil song off key. I really needed to sleep.
Then I heard the very familiar bike sound.
I got up and ran outside.
I watched him starting the bike and leaving the campus. He didn’t even look towards the canteen.

I needed to sleep. I had to. Sleeping was the only way I could keep my sanity safe. But the words
“She ditched him for another guy” kept going on and on in my head like a broken record.
It was as though I existed in a vacuum. There were so many students in my room. yet none knew what I was going through.
I was just a face in the crowd. The unknown.
My heart was aching. it felt as though someone was standing on my chest and was not getting off. I just couldn’t breath.
I tried and tried not to think anything, because I knew I was only a crack away from going crazy.
I just wanted to be numb.
Yet all around me everyone was talking and busy trying to analyze who was the ‘she’ who ditched him.
It was me, I wanted to scream.
But the words didn’t come out. How could it come out when I was in a vacuum?
Somewhere at the back of my head someone thought about studying.
How stupid?
How can anyone think of studying when everything around me was falling apart?
May be I was going crazy. I told myself.
I lifted my hand to make sure I was still in control of my actions.
I wriggled my toes to confirm.
I needed to escape. I had to. I must.
I got up and walked to my cupboard. I checked my sanitary napkin cover for the stash of Valium. I had two strips of valium inside.
I also had a strip of valium in my handbag.
Few in my lab coat. But the blister pack was a bit damaged after being inside my lab coat pocket for a while and the tablets were disintegrating. I had been planning to buy new supply.

3 strips. I thought.
30 tablets.
Peaceful sleep. Eternal.
No. I told myself. Not before the exams. I didn’t want to be labelled a quitter who quit because she couldn’t handle the exam pressure.
I took a tablet out and looked around to make sure no one is watching me and quickly put it in my mouth. I walked back to my table, took the water from the bottle and swallowed the tablet.
10 mg was good enough for the time being. I still had 2 strips and and 9 tablets. I could always get more. I smiled thinking how smart I am !
I pulled my blanket over my head.
I could hear Shylaja and the gang talking.
I could hear the broken record playing in my head.
But it didn’t matter.
I knew I will be asleep soon.
I had faith in valium, when everything else was falling apart.

I woke up startled. My first instinct was to grab the book and study. I must have slept off while studying last night and wasted the time that I should have been spending studying for the exam. As I got up from the bed I realized I had a splitting headache. It took me a few second to figure out why I have a headache.
My heart was aching again.
There was no place for me to hide.
I wanted him. I couldn’t lose him.
I wanted to see him. I wanted to talk to him.
I knew it was all a misunderstanding.
He would understand once I talk to him.

I got up and took two crocin tablet. My head was aching and I knew I should sleep it off before it got worst. But I had important things to do.
I checked the watch.
I took my bucket and towel and went to take my shower. Half way through i realized I didn’t take the soap and shampoo.
There was a long queue of students standing near the hot water tank.
Someone had already reserved the first two bathrooms.
I walked to the last one. There was a towel hanging on the door. Reservation sign.
I took the towel and hung it on top of the other door. I had contemplated simply dropping it on the floor. But the floor was dirty and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I filled my bucket with water. it is always safe to start taking a shower with a bucket full of water. Because the water supply can stop anytime without prior warning and you wouldn’t want to get stuck in the bathroom with shampoo on your hair and wait till the water supply resumes again.
I turned the shower on. The water was very cold. That wasn’t surprising. It was a December morning and what else did I expect?
I heard the sound of a heavy bucket being forcefully placed on the floor followed by loud knocking on the door.
“Who is inside?” Someone was yelling
I thought of doing the kalidasa akathara, purathara Stunt.
“Nina” I answered
“Did you not see my towel on the door?” She was screaming.
I didn’t bother to answer.
I wasn’t going to lie and say that I didn’t see the towel. I wasn’t going to justify my actions either. I hated the system of reservation.
Besides I didn’t bring any shampoo or soap. So this was going to be a Buffalo bath!
I quickly washed my body and dried. I was cold and very grateful that i remembered at least to take the towel.
I opened the door. A semi senior ( the one who didn’t pass the exam and lost 6 months) was standing outside the door. I thought of saying sorry, but before I could do so, she hissed
“Fucking bitch”
I did what I am very good at.
I looked at her and smiled, because I knew my beautiful 70 mm smile would further rile her.
Head ( aching with migraine) held high, I walked out.
The hostel was covered in mist and I was really cold. I knew my migraine was only going to get worst. But I had things to do. Important things to do.
Aparna and Shylaja were getting ready when I got back to my room.
“You took a shower in the morning?” Shylaja asked
“yeah” I mumbled. My head hurt every time I had to open my mouth.
“Are you going for the rounds?” Aparna asked
“Yeah” I lied.
“Coming for breakfast?” Aparna asked as they were leaving
“Ok, Bye, see you” Aparna closed the door.
I closed my eyes and walked to my cupboard. Opening the eyes itself was painful.
I opened the cupboard door. The sanitary napkin bag was sitting there with a mouth wide open. I took it and hid it under my clothes.
I thought of wearing jeans. But it was not weekend and I didn’t want to get in to trouble for not following the campus dress code.
I wore a salwar.
Checked my watch.
7.30AM.Too early.
I had forgotten to take the watch off when I took the shower and the leather strap was soaking wet. I hoped no water entered the watch. I needed the watch to check the pt’s pulse. I wanted to remove the watch and dry it. But my head was aching.
I went back to my bed and sat down. I didn’t want to sleep off. So I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes.
I knew what I was going to do.