As I walked into my room for the first time, she was sitting on a cot. I kept my luggages and looked at her uncertainly.
‘Hi’, she said.
‘Hi’, I answered.
In a few days’ time, we became cot mates. In out hostel, we had a cot for two and we took turns sleeping on the cot and on the floor.
Both of us were Bcom first years, both of us were in the music & bhajans group. We had so much in common except, she was silent & I wasn’t. College unleashed the prankster in me. The real me was out there running about to everyone’s surprise. I have no idea how or why I suddenly became myself. Maybe because, there were so many lovely people who were willing to accept my quirky side. She was one among them.
2nd & final year took us through many ebbs & flows and to our surprise, the room shuffling did not affect us. We both. Just the two of us were in the same room all 3 years while the rest changed. It rarely happens. Most of the students have stayed together for only 2 years.
I found her changing with time. She had her naughty side. She wasn’t silent as we had all thought and before we knew, she was cackling away with us. I’d like to know that I brought out her naughty side. But I’d never know.
In our final year, we were THE seniors and as always, our room was the happiest, noisiest and the most happening room for the punishments.
We used to discuss about how she would visit Kerala and how beautiful the place is. Towards the end of every year, I used to force her to come to Kochi. She would agree and never come.
We used to bunk certain sessions and prepare Haldiram’s bhel puri & eat during that time. We used to switch off the lights and prepare the food using torchlight to avoid being caught by the warden.
We had a “Pichakkari Rock Band” where we used to hold dust pan, broom (our guitar and mic) and sing some really weird songs we composed and dance on the cot. Don’t ask me what pichakkari means.
We used to enact how exactly I will be meeting the love of my life. God! We used to look stupid. To satiate your curiosity, I was supposed to meet him in a temple. There was a song sequence after that.
We found two kittens in our hostel. She took one and I took one. She named hers Poona & I named mine Poocha. They mean cat in Tamil & Malayalam respectively. We used to walk around the hostel with the kittens in our hands.
We used to sit on the floor and pretend to be carnatic singers giving a concert. We used to spread Vibhuthi (Sacred ashes) on our foreheads – three horizontal lines like the sages – fold a towel and place it on our right shoulder like the ideal carnatic singers and then commence with, “ek… ek… chathuranaar, karke singaar”. There used to be unnecessary emphasis on the ‘R’s. I wonder how our seniors bore us.
We also had our own Bhajan sessions where we sang ‘Kambaqt ishq’ as a bhajan. Don’t try to imagine anything. It really did sound like a bhajan though. We had this huge hardbound notebook that we used like a harmonium and another one that we used like Ganjira and some more crazy friends who pretended to sing after us.
She was my partner in crime and craziness. She had a soft toy dog named Rocky. She was very very very fond of him. She used to hold him close and sing,’O Rocky re… tere bina bhi kya jeena.’ 😀
After all those lovely days we parted our ways. Soon after college she got married, and once when I called her up, she told me in that very same childish tone of hers, “Ranju, I’m going to have a baby.” She said so like a baby and I’m sure no one could ever put it so sweetly. I was so happy for her and wondered how she would look after her baby when she herself was one.
100 Happy Days – Day 73
Happiness is meeting up with a long time friend
She never came to Cochin. But I used to know about her daughter from her. A doll, she was. Finally, fed up of calling her, I visited her. When I reached Bangalore, that was the first thing in my mind. I went to her house, met her husband, a very amiable person and her daughter, she is one angel like her mother. 🙂
She cooked lunch and I had hot and yummy Aloo Parathas and since it was Thiruvathira, she had also made Puzhukku which was also very delicious. Her daughter Oviya (a beautiful name meaning art) wasn’t very drawn to food and her mother took around 2 hours to feed her. My doubts had vanished by then. You don’t have to grow up to look after a baby. It was all the more better if you were a child.
She hadn’t changed at all with respect to looks and behaviour. She was the very same person I said goodbye to in our campus on the last day. I asked her about Rocky and she said that, in college, she had gotten Rocky married to our roommate’s doggy and send him with her. I do not remember that at all. Hope they are living happily with their puppies. 😀
She showed me her engagement album and also the birthday cards we had given to her during college. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had painted them and I don’t remember how. I wouldn’t be able to do something like that now.
We spoke about college, life after college, about Ovi; the child liked Ranju aunty a lot! When she realised that I was about to leave, she kept saying, ‘Stay here. Stay here.’ She made me sit down and refused to let me get up. When I finally walked out, she held my hand and said bye to Mamma & Pappa. 😀 We told her that I was going to the doctor and that I will be back soon. That was when she let me go.
As we parted, she also gave me a gift. It was so very unexpected and over-whelming. It was a beautiful dress material she had purchased. She asked me to choose from two and I was confused since both looked beautiful. I asked her to choose and she did. Every time I look at it, I remember those three years and that day in her house, not that I need a token to remember them all.