"In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine." - Milan Kundera
They were no longer separate individuals, but a single creature with nine tongues, nine hearts and one raw instinct - survival.
Friendships quickly formed, foes too; bitchiness is inevitable. Women are the biggest misogynists I read once, sadly there is a lot of truth in that.
It’s the animal impulse for survival I think, the fight for attention, to get the best mate, to preserve, to procreate. Refinement can never take away inborn instinct. But something greater held them together, made them forget, at least overlook the differences, the irritations, the suspicious. They lived, bathed, cooked, watched the sunsets and sunrises, bonded.
It was the summer of disillusionment; of incompleteness; of loss
Icings smeared across faces, birthday songs, laptops exchanged, borrowed milk, love, trust, reluctant sharing of space and the evening talks, so many evenings that scattered like burning blobs of revelations across that one year. That’s when the guts were spilled, where they exposed each other’s shameful secrets.
They are very good at coercing someone to talk, no truth potion required, just the right setting. Words tumbled over each other, incoherent, spurts of giggles.
Throat cleared, an encouraging hand pats a nervous back. The story continues with all the delicious details. They drank in every word. Each pair of eyes shining, dilated, transported into different imaginary worlds where the stories were enacted as plays, nine separate plays, but one story.
Same story, same old story.
Any given day the cloths line was full. Full of swishing, dripping wet cloths along with half-dried and fully dried ones waving in the wind. It filled the cemented terrace with the airy scent of detergent. It was a fabric extravaganza - pastel sheets, crimson and yellow dupattas, skirts in earthy shades, sparkling t-shirts, cotton kurtas and chaddis galore.
Chaddis, a heterogeneous mass - pink, green and blue, chaddis with pretty bows, laces, chaddis in satin, chaddis with naughty phrases, branded chaddis with the brand names proudly displayed all over them, chaddis that were washed with special soaps, shampoos and fabric conditioners - all fluttering like strange flags in the afternoon sun and gathered at twilight into sweet smelling colourful piles on the beds.
And then there were those sensible, uninteresting, quadrilateral chaddis that hung dripping in stoic silence. The ones washed with plain bar soap, dried, meticulously folded and arranged in drawers - no frills or fluffs, mere utilitarian existences.
Finally there were the sad, threadbare chaddis - scrubbed clean but still having faint indelible stains. The shabby chaddis, torn and re-stitched - the black and red thread like fresh, sore scars on wrinkled skin. The miserable, shameful chaddis soaked in loneliness. These were never flaunted, they never flapped proudly in wind. No, these sulked under half-dried skirts, under damp bed sheets and fading t-shirts. They never felt the wind nor the sun, but the filtered musty air through wet fabric pores. There they crouched quietly and dried slowly, their owners are ashamed of them but desparately took care of them - gently washing them at night, secretly and furiously stitching up the tears. Sometimes they are caught peeking under a careless shirt or seen when they fall down accidentally from a clumsy hand (if the hand isn’t quick enough to hide them in the bundle of dry cloths). Once seen, they wear the look of a criminal guilty of heinous crimes. Under the burning disgusted eyes, they cringe. Their owners, with fearfully beating hearts instantly disown them ("eww.. how can anyone were this! must be R...'s"). They are gawked at, mocked and kicked to a corner where they lie alternatively drying and drenching in the sun and rain until they disintegrate and disappear one day.
Four years have passed since the nine souls dispersed, flew, walked and crawled away.
The walls filled with million scrawls are repainted perhaps; the cockroach infested shelf that once held nine mugs, nine plates, several orphaned spoons, forks, and plastic jars might now holds a different set of things.
It wasn’t the end, the conclusion or the one giant step as I expected it to be. It was not the metamorphosis, nor the transitions; it was just a mediocre, microcosmic sample of life as everywhere else. Routine followed by routine, even the not-so-routine soon became routine. It was just a game, a gambling, with no second chances. No going back and reliving, no, your course is over kid, move out and move on.
The giggles, the conversations, the secrets, the screams, the tears, the boy friends, the crushes, the loves, the tragedies, the fights, the food, the laughter - all so human, so forgettable, so sad.