The Roommate Chronicles, Part Two
The bed was freshly made, a rucksack all packed and ready sat on it. A knock sounded on the door and when I unlatched it, she burst in hollering, her cousin in tow. The other girls screamed out their hellos, and we had a happy reunion.
All because I’d been away for the weekend? I really couldn’t fathom the ritual of the endless protestations of how much they’d missed me and the hugs. They’ve known me hardly a few weeks.
The first thing I noticed when I entered my empty room was that it was unusually clean. I had been away over the weekend, of course- but my roommate’s bed was cleared of every trace of debris as well, even the thin once-pale-pink blanket that was normally kept folded at its foot was tucked away elsewhere.
And what a propitious moment the raucous girls had chosen for their warm welcome. I was on a conference call, and it was one of the few spells when I wasn’t on mute and was being asked a question in a twangy drawl. Needless to say, I missed the point, didn’t even realise I was being spoken to till my manager nudged me, mumbled a reply in my defence, and got away with it for the moment- thankfully. Why everybody in the house had to discover my existence that particular minute, I really cannot tell. Murphy’s Law is a very cliched explanation I’m no longer willing to succumb to. There are other conspiracies at work.
I carried my phone out to the balcony to avoid screaming girls, only to be confronted by the relentless roar and thrum of the city, of the children playing in the clubhouse, of unrecognisable voices and sounds. When the crowds get you, they really clamp you inextricably in their jaws, and they’re everywhere, invisible but relentlessly existent.
Having struggled through the call, I went back in. My roommate was lugging her rucksack and a suitcase out through the door. I looked at her questioningly. She just might have seen the slight, but almost certain, glint in my eyes.
“I told you I was going home. To Jaipur.” Oh yes, she is from Punjab (and from Amritsar, in fact, as I had once predicted in a fit of reckless fun- creepy how these things turn out true), but she has lived in Gwalior and spent her vacations in Jaipur- no, we’re not kindred spirits just because we have similar stories.
“I thought you were leaving tomorrow.”
A long-winded explanation followed.
“I’ll be back next Monday.”
“Oh. A week. Have fun.” I could barely keep the enthusiasm out of my voice, apparently. Because she seemed to read my mind- and I don’t know if her reply was meant to be malicious or reassuring.
“Yes. It’s just a week. Then I’ll be back.”
She looked contemplative.
“Yes, I’ll be back for good. I won’t go anywhere, I’ll be here permanently.”
She’s nothing if not honest. True to her word, she has been home every waking (and sleeping) minute she doesn’t spend at work, and even comes home in record time- relegating me permanently to the hall downstairs, where there is already a dent on one of the new sofa cushions.