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.

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