Chew on it.

Chances are all we have.

Month: October, 2014

2045.

I wake up. The bed is empty except for my phone and I’ve come to not mind this. A dog is sitting up on the floor and the other is lapping up at his bowl. Mars and Cucumber. I stare into Mars’ eyes and wonder why I didn’t name her Cleo. She’s brown and old. I’m greying and old. I’m almost white. Need to wash that shirt again, the sauce stain still shows.

The wooden floor doesn’t creak poetically as I get out of bed and head to the bathroom. I’m old enough to not look into the mirror and pout ever so little yet I’m not old enough to not consider it. For a decade now my teeth have stopped bleeding but 20 years of them starting my morning with that tinge of red has me check twice for stains. Nope, no blood in the toothpaste lather. The wrinkles won’t set in for another 10 years, I know – but the crinkled eyes show that they’ll be here nonetheless.

The benefits of not wearing a bra have been weighed and have been taken maximum advantage of, yet the cold doesn’t allow me to not wear one. Not even at night. I’ve spent too much time pondering in the bathroom. Things have to be done. Things no one else will be around to do, so get out.

The house is small and in more romantic days, I have called it a cabin. Mars and Cucu have found their corners to lie about and wait. I put my phone back on the charger and head to the kitchenette or place where the stove, oven, fridge and sink are. Breakfast will be cereal. And milk that needs keeping in the fridge even while the temperature is 15°. I’m noting down what’s left in the fridge. Apples, paneer, sambar, rice, I need to cook cabbage, buy curd and Ma hasn’t sent the pappadam yet so I guess that’s another month of the usual.

Should call Ma. Yes. I reach out for the phone and find it behind the fourth copy of God of Small Things I have bought. For goodness sake there’s no joy in reading that any more it’s just me being compulsive but there’s been little else to do. There’s the phone and I am facing the fear of forgetting the 4th-5th-6th digits of her number again when it rings.

“Good morning, Radhi. How are things?”

“Was just about to call you”- (I can hear her voice from 30 years ago in mine) – “I’m okay. How are you?”

“I’m okay. Happy birthday.”

Oh.

I check the watch. It’s just past 10.49 so she’s called right on time.

“Thank you.”

“So what’s the day looking like for you?”

I don’t know what to say. What am I doing today?

“I’ll go out for a bit. Think there’s a movie out today.”

“Do you have company?”

“I’d rather watch it alone, Ma. I can’t concentrate with people around.”

I know she has sighed. She’s 80, who sighs at 80?

“Okay, have fun. If you want to do anything else, let me know. Bye”

“Bye.”

The absurdity stays in the air for a bit. What’ll she do if I change plans anyway?

The cereal has caked against the sides of the glass bowl I’m eating it from. I run the tap and rinse the bowl. Okay, I might as well wash it. Now. Let’s finish all our tasks at hand today instead of keeping them for a later that will turn into even later.

At 55, later is a strange word.

At least I have a crossword. The pens are in place and I know that’s my favourite part from every morning for the past decade – at least since I started taking an interest in crosswords. I’m sitting with one. Kurta, legs crossed and the 11.20 am sunlight in patches across my home out of which I haven’t looked with much interest. It’s cold, and I’m 55 today and I don’t know why this crossword is making me tear up. I need something else to do and I’m hoping it’s in the house because stepping out is not an option.

Shut up.

*Slap*

Mars cocks up her ears. Cucumber is somewhere in the bedroom.

Call Shri or Maans. Call Maans. I need some reality.

No I don’t need reality I need comfort. Call Shri.

This won’t end. I don’t need this. I need to learn to manage on my own.

Ketki’s kid is heading to the US for good this year. I should probably say hello to her.

No, not now. Not when you’re a mess and you’re doing this for a voice and not for your niece. I feel like the selfish old woman I have become and take out my skipping rope. Do when you mustn’t think. Skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip and find a mechanical comfort in the rope slicing the air. Keep the dogs away they may get hurt. Okay Mars is a good girl now she’ll be fine where’s Cucumber why is he not making a sound breathe another 250 and we’ll call him skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip happy birthday to you happy birthday to you skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip what did you do last birthday yeah dad was here should I call him he’ll understand skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip skip understand what two hundred forty six two hundred forty seven two hundred forty eight two hundred forty nine two hundred fifty.

“Cucu!”

There he is. Wagging his tail. Should I whack him should I hug him should I turn? I turn.

The boiled chicken is now in their plate. The plants have been watered. The house has been dusted and now my end is near. I should say this with a blanket around my neck like a cape and hands pointed at the heavens. I think I will do just that, happy birthday you old woman.

The phone rings.

“Happpppy birrrrthday!”

“Thanks Shri.”

“Yes enthusiasm that’s how you do it.”

“Thaaaaaaaanks Shrrraaaaaaa!”

“More like it. What plans today? Date with the pahaadi kebab?”

“Who?”

“Please I know you’ll have found one.”

“Ugh no I’m not in that place yet.”

“Get out of that it’s in your head. Wait Maans is here she wants to talk to you!”

When did they start not having me on speaker?

“Happy birthday Raaadddhi!”

I’ve learnt my lesson for this morning.

“Thaaaanks Maaans!”

“Where’s the party?”

“At home with Cucu and Mars.”

“Please get someone over to take care of them and get out for some time. I know what 55th birthdays are like but it’s not impossible to not have fun. Stop being sad. There’s that theatre in town go there na?”

“Planning to. What movie’s out today?”

“Listen if you’re going to be like that I’m sorry I said don’t be sad okay?”

“Oh no it’s not that really I’m not sad I’m just wondering what to do today.”

“Okay if you say so. Listen I have to go now, we’ll call you later in the evening, okay?”

Okay.

I’m in bed. Thank goodness for this comforter. And socks. And the books.

I’m 55, and I’m not laughing with anyone and all that I thought of at 24. The dogs are next to me and I’m singing to them now. Come here, by Kath Bloom. To be sung to someone so here I am doing that.

“I’m in no hurry
You don’t have to run away this time
I know that you’re timid
But it’s going to be alright this time.”

Cucu and Mars need to poop. I walk toward the door. Cucu is already there. Mars is walking with me. I unlatch the door. The room gets colder. The dogs are out. The rain has stopped. The trees smell of trees.

There’s a fence that protects me from nothing. I like it more today.

-365

Made it.

Not surprised. Not delighted. Not anything.

Still around. Still friends. Still wondering.

But I’m glad we’ve made it this far without (so much) bitterness, losing out on friends and all that. With or without, it’s been a year I understood I can be independent, can – in fact – do without affection, and can move on. You did too, and I’m proud of you. I’m proud of us. Our ‘thing’ that we shouldn’t have tried to define but we did, and now we know is a very deep bond that not many know of any no one completely understands.

The what-ifs and should-haves have been many. The why-did-yous too. We’ve found solace in the grey areas and in knowing ourselves with each other’s perspectives.

For letting me grow in a direction I did not anticipate a year ago, thank you.

You’re wonderful.

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