The room of my dream

The first time is always hard. It's as if snippets of its appearance or fragrance or layout are from another time and space. Unknown yet familiar. Like they belong to several parallel universes. Like déjà vu. Like a Freudian slip coming back. The darkness pierces and comforts, all at once.

It is a simple standard square. The dulled pale yellow distemper on the walls and oil paint on the room; balcony doors & window frames, at first sight, make the place look stale, unlived-in, un-cared for, for a while. The latent odour of seepage and peeling paint begins to build something of a personality in your mind. But before you form a middle aged graying figurine in your head, a whiff of cool breeze from the window and balcony, that was just opened, hits you to shake things up. It's the effect that twilight's hues have on a dusky face, taking away the years, adding charm and youth.

You begin to look at this space in a new light. The light of street lamps along the highway that seeps in from the window, the high mast florescent light within the oil company's housing campus in Bandra, in the wee hours of the weeknight. The light of comfort that leads to a new excitement, and opens avenues for the brewing anticipation.

The room is compartmentalised in clutter as well. A wall closet and another steel almirah, a functional desk laden with assorted items of use – a strip of medicine, a shaving kit, some books, a pair of spectacles. Hooks on the adjacent wall do their job with assembly-line efficiency. At a level a tad lower than one's hips is a plain sand-papered wooden shelf, about six feet long and peppered with more items of male clothing. I notice a swivel chair later too – happily filled, not with the wearer but with his wares - a towel, laundered clothes, freshly discarded garb - the yield of the exploits from that building store of energy dying to pound.

Wires, papers, a water bottle, a wrist watch - all jostle for the spotlight on the little bed-side table. They all struggle to tell their story. A story of exhaustion from a long day at work, of haste to get out as soon as one gets in.

Then there is the flooring - an 80s style mosaic - functional; serving the dual purpose of lasting sturdiness and camouflaging occasional aberrations, smoothed over the years. Clean.

I have been here before, says a voice inside. Then I remember my friend from Baroda whose dad too retired from the same organisation. Memories of a simple standard layout company quarter come surging. Memories of laughter, late night tangents and giggles and gossip ensue. The immediate present slaps me back to reality almost instantly. A slap almost welcome. For this moment too has been joyous, perhaps in a more evolved way - hardly qualifying to be grown up, however definitely as peaceful and satisfying.

The last time, I noticed a metal name plate on the door too. In a child-like notion of being grown up. Not his name. Hardly the idea of the current occupant. This room of my dream is more real, more tangible, more accessible, hardly embellished. I stepped out of that dream and woke up to a reality that is truly liberating. Space comes in so many forms.

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