Do friends help you get through the night? In the absence of cable TV, alcohol, or Gerald Durell, I think yes. They do.
Last night was the first night I had to spend alone. ALL alone. No music, no T.V., no funny books.
Now, the thing with Monday nights is that they come after Monday days. And Monday days are the stuff lumpy gravies or banana-flavored lip balms are made of. Tripe - blahed tripe.
So in tradition of all things dreary, my Monday morning was progressing ever so slowly. A fat, thick-waisted mollusc could have whizzed past me, done a figure eight, and come back after having dinner. My day was positively dripping boredom, one eternally dangling drop at a time.
And then, the office guy delivered a parcel at my table. He thumped it on my workstation and waited. 'Why is a new girl getting parcels in office?', he wondered. He could also be standing around to see just how fast I could rip paper. That is one of my few noteworthy virtues, by the way. My fingers can sear through layers, (untidily, of course – no point in being neat and destructive. What’s the point then?), leaving behind paper and pulp debris. It can get ugly. Me opening a parcel is not a sight for the faint-hearted.
From that torn paper womb, emerged a pretty gift-wrapped book. The wrapper was a dark green splattered with gold specks. Imagine a starry night sky rolling over a vivid, green forest and getting stuck on it. This precious wrapper was finished off with a cute, golden bow. It’s the sort of present you expect after someone in a fluffy, gauze dress has waved a wand over you.
After the imaginary star dust had settled, I gently plucked at the cello tape. The delivery guy sighed wearily and went away. Not a taker of dainty business, I suppose.
My friend, R, had sent me a Snoopy comic with Woodstock coming in and giving his two-bits every now and then.
It is so adorable. There’s this one strip that has Woodstock pushing a grocery cart laden with something. He comes and stops near Snoopy’s kennel, unloads his stuff, and goes away. Snoopy sees all this lying on top of his kennel. With his ears flopping at the side, he observes poker-faced, ‘Another one of those who leave the grocery carts behind.’
That little grocery cart is so cute. I doodled it behind the cheque I had to give my broker. He hasn’t noticed it yet, so as of now, things are good. And if things get ugly, then I’ll just get my own cart and take my stuff to somebody’s kennel (who’s sleeping on top of it, preferably.)
Then, it was time for lunch.
Za, my ex-roomie, and I had reached our table after toppling a few chairs on the way. We always do that. Her excuse is that she does it to avoid the chairs I topple. As for me, I just don’t notice anything that’s off-white and plastic. It’s an intrinsic fault, also hereditary, therefore irreversible.
Za breaks her papads in three equal pieces – one to nibble with her dal and rice, another to munch with her roti and vegetables, and the third to have as a savory dessert after the rest of the food is finished. Each of these papad pieces remind me of farmlands. I think of Vande Materam.
‘What does Materam mean?’, I ask.
‘It’s that hill station near Mumbai – people go there to trek and stuff.’
I softly hum ‘Vande Matheran’.
The docile-looking girl sitting next to us stuffs her floral hanky into her mouth and snickers away.
My friend rolls her eyes.
‘People are so weird here’, she says and spreads a little pickle on each of the papad fragments. Peasant uprising – the blood of the farmers. Marxism on a plate. Vande Matheran.
So, at night, when I felt the wistful fear of silence, I read the book R gifted. Smiled.
I thought of me as Snoopy, and Za as Woodstock. Laughed.
Lights out. Slept.