‘There is more to life than what we have seen. The day school ends, we shall all cross a threshold. That day, a door shall forever be closed upon us. And the privileged ones will all leave behind their naivety because that is what the other side of the door requires of us.’  Words she had spoken and words, which could not have been truer. In an attempt to be courageous, she might as well have found the secret of life or at least that of survival.
She is jerked back to the present as the car drives over yet another speed breaker on the state highway. She is enveloped in the night’s darkness. The road sky is bereft of street lights and the velvety night sky is barren. She cannot see anyone. No one can see her. She realises that her i-pod which she had been listening to, is still playing. She switches it off. That she gauges is another light being put out. She hunts for the earphones, she had plugged into her ear at the beginning of the journey but had lost them in her bouts of dozes and preoccupation. Strangely, she does not know where the car is. She smiles wryly, wondering what is new about that. She seems to lose way frequently nowadays. And in her search and chagrin, she loses grip on her music player as well.
The car lurches forward again. This time, it is over an unexpected pothole in the road. She jolts forward and falls on the luggage. She had not realised how cramped she had been, sitting for six hours in the back of the car until it had been too late. She was stuffed along with luggage – suitcases, cartons and with loose bags thrown somewhere. She is petite and everybody thinks it is easier for her to fit in – convenient. For whom, she wonders?  She hears others in the front seat, telling the driver to take it slow. She does not make a sound – cramped and sore, though she is. She just assembles herself back in the small seat as if she were but a piece of broken machinery. Well broken, isn’t she?
As impossible as it sounds, she goes back to her quest of finding her travel companions – the player and the ear plugs. She realises that they are not on the seat. They are probably lost in the crowd of other inanimates. She tries to search for them with her hands but she cannot find them. The rhythm of the silent drive is broken yet again. Abandoning her search, accepting the inaccessibility of it, she resumes her seat.
Her inability and realisation of failure together with all her bouts of preoccupation and her epiphanies attack her.  An incoherent sob escapes her, choking her. She tries to muffle it. She knows that this is yet another sign of a failure about to greet her. She gives up. She does what she has been doing for a while now. She buries her head in her arms and buries her self in herself. She cries – silent but loud sobs. She cries. Nobody listens to her. Her world, however, echoes with them and her spirit suffers yet another fissure from the incoherency.
The honking of a truck and slamming of doors wake her up from a fitful and sob induced sleep. She feels the salty tracks of tears and kohl  lining down her cheeks. Quickly trying to rub them off with her hands, she flutters her eyes to clear the haze. A sharp piercing light, a light so bright that it initially hurts. She tries to escape it: bury her eyes deep down in the sockets, guard them with eyelids. And she would if she could. Slowly, however, she brings herself to face it. Then, the door sounds and is opened. All the bags, cartons and cases are removed – noisily, slowly but efficiently, bringing in light to her darkened corner.
She realises that they have reached. She  will also reach her destination. She contemplates bidding her time as she gets off the car. This probably is the first stop in a long journey to find words, which will string together answers that she has been looking for forever.


Food, I have always believed is the cure of all grief. To strengthen it further, homemade snacks in a hostel far away from home had really helped me make friends. Bribe, though it might be called but dear reader, believe me when I helped. One evening, I took a Tupperware container full of crispy mathris around the hostel floor and without afterthought climbed down the stairs to go visit friends on lower floor. I remember as if it were just this evening – the sound of unending cries and howls echoing the corridor. Like someone was in immense pain and the grief would not go away with her squeaking sobs. I approached the door, eavesdropping – indecisive whether I wanted to enter the almost strangers room. I knew I shouldn’t but I could not leave. I could hear some softer interruption and consolation. A friend or perhaps the roommate, I didn’t know. Intruder that I was, I knocked, went in and made a complete fool of myself and embarrassed her.

Ironically, she ended up helping me instead of the other way round. I am sure I would never have talked to her again had she not texted me and apologized. I have never understood what she was apologising for. Since then however, she has remained until now. It hasn’t been a very long time – just a year and a half, but she has been always there. Like my knight in shining armour, she takes care of me. She listens to me rant about doing creepy things and tells me of creepier things, she’s done. She ends a long lecture with ‘it is nothing to worry about.’ Though she teases me about being short, she’s very fierce about protecting me when I have a bad day.

Today, I won’t have a nice month until I have sent her weird quotes and shared weird travel plans with her or she hasn’t given me her much-needed tips. Once upon a time, a very dear friend had sent me a dream catcher to ward away nightmares and make all my dreams come true. This one person is like that – making sure that she helps me carve my wishes true anyway that she can.

She is my wingman, as she defines it and I agree. She’ll shoo away anybody who gives me grief and I never want her to stop – wouldn’t want her to disappear like just anyone in life. With her drama, her dreams and our travel plans – she’s here to stay. Sometimes, when she is in one of her ranting stupors, I interrupt her to start one of mine – one on the social issues, the Marwari issues and issues in general. She, however, listens again in rapt attention. She comes up with simple solutions for the general ones, calling the Marwari incorrigible. In those moments, I cannot express how thankful I am that she was born and I met her.

She has dreams of her own, which will enchant you, dear reader. She is a paradox. Sometimes, she’ll talk about chugging bottles of beer and other times, she’ll talk about taking control of the administration. For all her five feet and flaws, she takes up responsibilities like a woman on a mission. She is unsure and panics as well. She is but human.
On this day, to that human, I wish her new jobs, better colleagues, no cold feet about getting old and dreams fulfilled. Happy Birthday!