I remove the lock and unlatch the door, open it and smile at the now familiar creak it makes. It is all I have at the moment, to call home. Letting my hand bag fall on the white iron bed, I plop down on the mattress covered in clean sheets with the pillow towards the head board. Sultry winter afternoons, I wonder why do they remind me of a far away place which was once home? The only home, I knew and I knew no more. With heavy legs and clouded mind, I want to lie back on the clean bed after a long day and fall asleep. However, the tinkering laughter and a shadow of conversation in the corridor outside remind I have chores to finish – bring in dry clothes from the verandah and have my lunch.
A knock on my door brings me back from the cobwebs clinging on the yellow ceiling of the room. I open the door to find, it is the girl who stays in the adjoining room. She asks me if I would like to help her choose a dress for a date. Over a cup of chai, we share our observation of a city new to me – the people and their ways. Sometimes, I believe the city will make me one of its own but mostly I know I will be absorbed in the crowd of people, who are sometimes friendly and sometimes, who look so weary of strangers that it is scary. She laughs at my observations and says I will come around soon. She says I might even miss my life when I go back on vacations. She knows not, however, that I have no where to go. This is all I have to call a home – temporal and permanent. While she is busy taking out frills and frocks for me to see, I glance at the balcony and feel how inviting it is. The golden hue of the afternoon peeps into the room from the corner of uncurtained casement. Again, the persisting desire to climb into bed and curl to sleep knocks on my mind.
Often, there are reminders – people who speak the same tongue, the food or just a colour. They, however, don’t sound the same or taste or look how they used. Sometimes, my eyes well up with a sheen of moisture to look beyond the haziness. Then, I walk quicker to the refuge of a corner. I give in to the suffocation, the strangely ways and the untold emotion choking my throat and choking me. Mostly, I smile – pull up the corners of my lips and join the crowd, in search of a homely contentment.
This is a strange place – stranger in its ways. The ways remind again and again – of all the years gone and different ways learnt of, at a different place. However, I have already lost it long since. I do not want to sit in a corner and wail like a woman who is not strong enough. Although that is what I do most times, in the middle of silent nights. It is then or in sultry afternoons like today, it comes back to me with its vice like grip to please me in a perverse way. I have to remind myself that it wasn’t a choice I had to make – to give up my home, to give up my life. Time ripped it apart from me and then shattered it into pieces as if it were only a piece of glass – kept and preserved for this.
I put down the cellophane cup of chai and return to what now is my life. Change, I am told is the only constant. To decide whether Time is a cruel is a choice, I will have to make. Then, I know everything must come to full circle and hopefully, someday, so shall I.