“Would you like to move in along with me?” I asked in a tone which I thought was casual enough but in fact I was trying hard to hide the desperation, I felt within. I was asking this to Tara. She was taking her time and I was crossing my fingers with prayers in my heart.’God , please let her agree, let her say yes, please , please, please, ‘ I thought.
While she was mulling upon the offer, my thoughts flew back to where it all started. The prayers were going on but in a separate track, though. I had come to this beautiful little town-city to do my post graduation course. The admission and the hotel registartion happened on a Friday. While I was completing the formalities, I found a girl enrolling for the same course. We got talking and decided to ask for a same room in the hostel. After having completed the enrolment procedures , we were asked to meet the warden of the hostel. When we went there it was already lunch time. Since the canteen was far off from the hostel , we decided to have our lunch after finishing the hostel procedures.
Not surprisingly, the warden had an extended lunch session and came about 2:30 P.M. Ten minutes later, we were allowed to meet her. Once inside, we introduced ourselves. She then asked about our course details and then said that we will be put up in the Saraswathi block. We asked if both of us could be given the same room. She replied in the affirmative and added that there will be 3 persons in a room. We were happy that we got a room together and didnt bother much about the third person. We thanked her and proceeded towards the Saraswathi hostel.
The hostel was just like the way you expected any government university hostels to be. None of the Bollywood types rooms or dorms. The rooms were ok for two persons but three would definitely be a crowd. The hostel was empty save for a few students who had returned early for the new academic session. My new found friend kept her luggage in the room nad we proceeded to have lunch, happy with the way things had worked out. She was going to stay there for the weekend and I was going to visit my grandparents who stayed in a place which took a 4 -hr drive from the university. I was planning to come back early monday morning, drop the luggage in the room and then proceed for the classes. After lunch, we said our goodbyes and take cares and parted ways.
I spent a wonderful weekend with my grandparents in their quaint little place . I was pampered with attention and goodies to no end. I felt really sad to leave but promised to be back whenver I had a long weekend. When I sat on the bus, I was really looking forward to what lay ahead. New place, new people. I was all excited.
When I entered my room, I saw a third cot bang in the middle of the room and I saw my friend getting ready on her side of the room as discussed earlier. I waved at her cheerfully while she just gave a perfunctory smile. I was puzzled.And then when I saw to the other side which was supposed to have been mine was occupied. The bed had been slept in and clothes and books were arranged. I threw a questioning look to my friend ( at this stage , I was not so sure of the friend), she said , “Sapna is our third roommate. The middle cot is for you. Ok. Gotta rush now. Bye.” She rushed off without even waiting for a reply. I just kept my luggage on the cot and decided to have a discussion after the classes. By that time, Sapna came back. She said, ” Oh, you have come. Ok. Then will you mind keeping the luggage properly. Seeing it lying about there is getting on my nerves.” It took me a moment to get this straight after which I replied, ” I am not in the mood to arrange it right now. Will do that after the classes.” So, saying I walked off. While I was walking to my class, I was very disappointed. I was not looking forward to stay here anymore. I wanted to go back. But I had to stay, no matter what. I was staying in a room where I was feeling very unwelcome. To add to the misery, the rest of the girls from my batch have seem to have bonded well during the weekend. I was feeling like an outsider.
This uncomfortable stay went on for a month. One fine day, just as the second month started it was announced that the new hostel block which was under construction till now, will be open for occupation and the new batch of students will shift to the new block. There will be 2 persons per room. My retort to Sapna had not gone down too well with the rest of the girls. Since Sapna and my friend for one day were sharing a room, I was left to look out for somebody to share my room with. And as luck would have it, everybody had somebody. I left it at that and hoped the problem would solve by itself.
Meanwhile, we had an assignment for which we had to visit the town for some supplies. A bunch of us classmates went alongwith Tara who knew her way around town. Now, Tara was in our class and was already in the University doing her MCA. She wanted to study further and joined this course of ours. So, she was our guide around the University and around town. So, it was during this trip , I blurted out this question.
I was still waiting for the answer and my fingers were still crossed. And then she said, “Yes, I wouldn’t mind shifting along with you.”. I uncrossed my fingers and let out a huge sigh of relief. I sent a dozen prayers towards the sky. Its only in instances like these I have a strong belief in God Almighty.
A couple of weeks later, all of us shifted to the new hostel. This was a much much better place than the previous hostel. The walls were painted new, the beds had not been slept in and the most important of all, the washrooms were new and very hygienic. It took almost a week to settle down. And then , the honeymoon was over. With Tara , that is. She and I were totally opposite. So, though we shared the same room we were not exactly pally -pally. Moreover, she was a neatness freak and I was not. She used to diligently keep her side of the room , so spotlessly clean that I was forced to clean my side of the room. But then, I could never keep up with her. At one point of time, she even told me that looking at my side of the room gave her a headache. Days passed. The girls in the other rooms were so close to their roommates , that it was like a family. They confided in each other, they went out together, they ate together and even did the assignments together. Tara and I did none of this. We were each in our own different world. We were like a separated couple living in the same house.
One evening, while I was coming back to the hostel after visiting the town, I met Siya (another of our classmates who stays in the hostel) who was headed outside. She stopped and asked me, ” I think Tara is not well. She was in the room all day long. Hasnt eaten the whole day and when I went to see her , her eyes were red. Looks like she has been crying the whole day.” I told her that I will go check and rushed to my room. Tara was still in her bed and was surrounded by her friends. They were kind of comforting her and I didnt intrude. That night, she stayed in one of her friends’ room and a couple of days after that. All classmates were enquiring me as to what happend to her and I could tell them as I didnt know myself. People were surprised that I didnt know what happend to my roomie and loudly wondered what sort of a roomie was I. I was getting irritated by all these and rushed back to my room. I found Tara there and after acknowledging eachn other’s presence with a nod , both of us retreated into our own shells. I didnt ask anything and she didnt say any thing and we left it at that.
Days passed and all of us were busy with the sudden tests, assignmnets and projects. It was a Sunday night and I was giving final touches to a report I was supposed to be submitting the next day. Tara was busy with her report. I think. I had a couple of more slides to go and the suddenly the lights went off. It was pitch dark everywhere. There was a sudden flash of lightening and a deafening thunder. A light drizzle started and then it became a downpour within minutes. The hostel was silent and everybody kept to their rooms. I closed my books and was watching the rain from my window. Not that I could see anything but I was just looking out. I was engrossed that I almost jumped when I felt a hand on my shooulder. It was Tara. ” You scared me”, I said. She was laughing and said, “I just wanted to offer you some chips. I felt like eating and thought you might like to have too.” I took a few and continued looking out while munching on the chips. She stood next to me , munching and looking out too. For a while, we could just hear the crunch of the chips. Suddenly, she asked,” you like watching rain?” I replied to her while continuing to look out, ” Yes, I have so many memories attached to the rain”. I went on to tell her about my first rain dance when my father carried me on his shoulders while my mom was screaming at both of us, the day when I went with my friends to a movie without telling my mom and how the rains delayed us and the subsequent lectures at home and many such incidents. Surprisingly, she came out with her own stories too. We kept munching on the chips and talking. When the chips were over , I brought out biscuits and chocolates. We kept talking and talking. About our first crushes, first heartbreaks, friends, parents, cousins, school , college and then we also talked about her recent break up with this guy whom she was dating for quite sometime. The rains stopped pouring but we were pouring our hearts out to each other. We didnt notice the time and we were talking as if there was going to be no tomorrow. We were making up for lost time, I guess.
The first ray of dawn appeared and slowly we could hear the chirping of the birds. It was the beginning of a new day, a new dawn and the beginning of a new relationship with my roomie. My own roomie. A person with whom I cherished the next 15 months.