Off Limits

Bombay. The city meant liberation to me at age 19. At 24, when I finally barged into its labyrinth, a secret unfolded. There was none. Liberation that is, not secret. Duh PU.

The liberty, not of being clad in skimp or drinking like no tomorrow or having clandestine affairs, but of being at ease. Grabbing some me-time from no-time and withdrawing. Ridding myself of restlessness and a forced sense of duty. Effectively.

As I sit on my balcony ledge, a menthol in one hand [yes Neel, still prefer the ‘shit’ to all else] and Azar Nafisi’s book in the other, the thought crosses my mind: my hostel was even beautiful-ler.; why didn’t I ever sit and read there as happily? On the terrace, in the porch, the lounge, the stairs, the library, why my room even! There was more open space to be found there. More guiltless abandon for routine [skip washing clothes one day, ironing a heap another, miss a meal, avoid calls from folks]. Even more breeze and wider seat space too.

Ledges at angles perpendicular to vertical walls to lean on are my weakness. A member from my Nanaji’s beloved collection of transparent glass tea cups sits on the painted marble like a stowaway. Mint tea half finished – a thin film of मलाई on its surface – cold.

A light breeze graces the otherwise only near-perfect frame, gently cradling the 3-storey high palm tree; the Bottle Brush in an overreacting sway, tickling my elbow against all my attempts to brush it away.

My legs too carelessly rest beside the cup and the pack and phone, on one of the slippers – the other shaken off, lying capsized on the floor: all superstition be damned.

First 11 pages of Lolita Read in Tehran later, I’m so “infinitely happy”, I get off the unsafe part of the first floor, collect all the gleesome items and once more, latch the door to my private haven. I perform the studied routine of pinning my hair into a bun, washing up, gargling with Listerine, marinating my hands in copious amounts of sanitizer and sprucing up. More silent, more composed, at peace.

*Cuz the carpenter cleans up after he's done for the day. the bai's a ucking excuse left to herself.

No comments: