The Roommate Chronicles, Part One
It doesn’t help to have a roommate with the strength of an ox. (Actually, it doesn’t even help to have a roommate when you’ve enjoyed solitude for a whole delicious month.)
Not when, at the end of the day, all you want to do is drop into bed and play some childish game on your phone or delve into the book you’ve been trying to finish for nearly a week or listen to the divine Japanese piano solo you’ve just been introduced to. Imagine- in barges this new roommate, rolls up her sleeves, says, “Let’s move the beds so we can have more space in here”- and before you can say ‘Nico Rosberg’, she has already manoeuvred her suitcases and bags out of the way and is dragging her bed around. You twitch an eyebrow, muster all your feeble strength together and grunt over your own- and she’s already pushing your bed into place as well. She lets out a deep, throaty laugh, asks you if you know Hindi, you say yes, and she speaks a dozen words in two seconds, generously accented with Punjabi. She laughs at bland jokes and complains passionately about Chennai without knowing where your loyalties lie (oh, I love this part!).
She surveys the room again when you’ve meekly tucked yourself into bed, your muscles ready to groan if called upon again to exert themselves. “Something doesn’t look right. I think we should move the beds, so”- she gestures- “and the cupboards, so.”
“Yes, we should.” Quietly, in a tired voice.
“Do you want to do it right now?”
“No.” Firmly, strongly, loudly. “Tomorrow, after work.”
The room lapses into a peaceful, indolent silence it hasn’t known for twenty minutes. You are a celebrity in the house, because you’re rooming with the Unknown, the New, the Inexplicable. They aren’t too fond of her- you see, the first time she came to take a look at the place, she surveyed one of the girls from head to foot (do you know the X-ray look the married aunties in the neighbourhood give you when they catch you alone in the elevator, the what-an-insolent-single-working-girl look), and asked her condescendingly (imagine the external examiner during your final semester practicals), “Which organisation do you work for?”
The other girls back you, tell you to be courageous, that they’re with you, not to worry about anything at all. And then, when you’re pickled and marinated in your own blood, they’ll say RIP. Because you see, though girls seem to form obdurate first impressions, it really doesn’t take long to change them.
And so, if I tell you tomorrow that I’m going to Amritsar for a vacation, do not be surprised.