Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I went to Hyderabad for the weekend: in one day, out the next. I went alone by train, sitting by the window with the wind in my hair. I carefully avoided meeting the eyes of the other passengers in my compartment; I didn't want to have to speak. For one night, I wanted silence.

I read my book till it was too dark to read. Then, as the tubelights above began casting blue shadows on everything, I leaned my forehead against the grill and thought. I noticed that I felt annoyed each time the train slowed down. I wanted, even if I was slowing down, for the train to go fast, to give me a sense of purpose, of moving forward. Even a false one. I forced my annoyance down and told myself that for one night, it was all right just to be. Not to think, but to dream.

R is getting married. My best friend from college, my roommate, the one enamoured of purple coloured walls, who loves chubby babies and dusty teddy bears, is getting married. It seems like such a grown up thing to do. I tried to say it to myself, fast and slow, weightily and airily, to see if it would make any difference. It didn't. It seems like a fact too large to wrap my mind around, and yet, like something that had to happen, that I've accepted a long time ago.

The Saturday morning was already warming up when my train pulled into Secunderabad station. It was the same blistering heat that dyed me three shades darker and gave my feet the most interesting tan lines, all those years ago. It was vaguely endearing.

The station was as busy and noisy and colourful as ever. J was there to receive me and we drove home. Secunderabad perhaps has more right than any other place to be called my home. I lived there for eight years; we built our house there. We buried one dog and adopted another one there. It is the place where I made my decision to become a physicist, and the place where I changed my mind and decided to become a writer. J drove me to our house, his house now. It is the house with the little yellow corner room that I called my own. I would wake there at five in the morning and play the veena till my fingers stung. I would curl up in bed each night, and dream, big dreams. I used to have a mirror in there, a tiny crooked one next to the window, that I would stare into for hours and wonder who it was I saw.

I didn't have much time for introspection though. I was meeting A and R, after what felt like an age. Phone conversations, chats, all aren't really as satisfying as an honest-to-goodness coze, are they?

After a giant breakfast, J drove me to A's house and left me there to wake her up and then catch up. Our tongues worked tirelessly for the next few hours, there was so much to say! But then, there always is. R was busy with engagement preparations, but we were determined not to wait till the evening to meet her, and so joined her at the parlour where she's been camping all afternoon. We interrupted her facial and got glared at by her attendant, but it didn't matter. We ended up getting pedicures together, and on a reckless impulse, I chose to have my toenails painted vermillion.

Then we went out to dinner, the three of us, and R's fiance, and we talked some more. After R and her fiance dropped us off at A's place, we of course analyzed him to bits and concluded he seemed a very good sort and pretty perfect for R. Having settled that, we slept contentedly.

The next day was spent at the engagement. R looked very pretty and suddenly very grown up in her saree, her hair in a long golden plait. A and I giggled together and took a lot of photographs. I strained my pitiful Telugu vocabulary as far as it would go and then, having exhausted it, fell silent. Too soon, it was over. Garlands were exchanges, blessings were offered and it was time to leave.

A and I went to a restaurant and sat there quietly for about an hour, trying to digest what had happened. It seemed terribly important to understand and I couldn't quite explain away the vague sadness I felt. Perhaps it's because R is moving on and away, to a new life that I can't be a part of. The nights we spent in our room, her on her bed, I on mine, talking with the lights out, they seemed inexpressibly dear now. The times she comforted me when I cried, our KFC binges, the hours we spent shopping, all seemed suddenly significant. Too soon, it was time to leave.

I bid goodbye to A at the station. We shall meet again very soon at R's wedding, so the parting didn't seem too hard. Then I boarded the train and as it began to move, I propped my feet up on the berth before me, stared at my vermilion toenails and thought about it all.

PS: Reader, if just R's engagement has me getting this, um, deep, I wonder what her wedding's going to do to me. I'm dreadfully certain I'm going to cry.

1 comment:

  1. u actually got me crying if my mom wasnt enuf x-(
    i m not sad abt the fact tht i m getting married or nething becoz tht doesnt change things too much for me.... its more abt the fact tht u r gonna b in US in a few months... and i really doubt when u'd b moving back here.... and wht seems to b a once in a fortnight phone conversation and a once in 2 days chat....will prolly now become a once in a month deal or maybe even worse :(
    ur days are gonna b my nights.... and i dnt knw how lukkha u ppl r gonna b to b able to spend time to giv me updates on ur lives :(
    i will so miss u and arthi :((((((((
    nd now to make my cold feet worse i chose today of all days to read ur post :(((((((((((((((
    i m becomin frndless now :(((((((((((((((((((((