A Forty year old dream.
She walked straight into my room. This was strange, not because of the act itself, but the time and place where she chose to do so. I have lived in many rooms. All kinds of rooms. Rooms with or without doors. Rooms with or without furnitures that made noise, which people mistook for lamentation. Dark rooms and well lit, well ventilated rooms. But this room was different. It was a hostel room in the medical college where I was doing my internship.
But her act was strange for another reason. I did my graduation in engineering. I never went to a medical college. This hostel room in question was in fact occupied by my brother’s best friend. He is married to his childhood sweetheart and settled in a foreign country. I visited this room of his on a summer night many years ago. I saw people coming back from playgrounds exhausted. I watched them break into prattles as they waited for washrooms to free up. I remember flipping through the glossy pages of Gray’s anatomy. Then I pressed a Littman stethoscope to my brother’s chest, patiently looking for heartbeats. For a moment, I thought about a train journey that happened weeks, perhaps months before this. I was sitting in the chair car, beside an attractive young lady. She had curved lips and well polished fingernails. She was a student of medicine, hence this rather strange choice of long fingernails aroused my curiosity. We chatted for a while before her boyfriend, a painter, joined us. Then, I borrowed her anatomy test and read about synovial joints and arthritis. It rained, but I still chose to read. All these swarming memories, including my stint preparing for medical entrance years ago gave a glimpse about my moorings in that hostel room.
It was a quaint little room near the western edge of this prestigious medical college. But why would this place come back to me, embedded with her extraordinary act of kindness? I am not yet sure about why she chose to walk straight into my room. So I will refrain from colouring the event with any particular hue. She certainly altered my perception of space and time. I was worried about the precarious perch that I maintained over reality. So I chose not to think much about it.
Yet, there she was. Standing near this door painted grey. I noticed a shiny reflection on it, originating from an incandescent lamp hanging at a cul-de-sac. I wondered about its purpose, for there were no rooms nearby. Nobody would go there to read, for we had plenty of LED lamps in the corridor. This anachronistic reflection of an incandescent lamp on a shiny wooden door painted grey told me that something is amiss with the whole arrangement. But the room still had my white laptop with bluetooth keyboard that I used to write. This keyboard with the letter “i” in red. The “enter” key was a bit tacky, so I used my ring finger instead of pinkies to hit it. So these two observations were the keys to decipher my situation. If I could register any differences in these details, that would unequivocally prove that this scene in unreal.
I surveyed the room for anymore potential cues that will help with my diagnosis. Even when I was anxious to prove that the scene is unreal, I was worried about its aftermath. If this scene turns out to be a pastiche of reality, can I go back to the ‘reality’? What if there is no means to tunnel myself (with minimal or no transmission losses) back to reality? I found some comfort in the thought that this might be a set up to test my response to this altered reality. Some experiment on augmented reality, perhaps. This rendered a sudden wave of optimism, for this might be a game with the final prize being my return to reality. Then the unskirtable question dawned me. Do I really want to go back to reality? In that world, she wouldn’t do this extraordinary act of kindness. She wouldn’t walk straight into my room. There will be no comfort of this reflection of an incandescent lamp on a shiny wooden door painted grey. And more importantly, her sweet figure is standing close to this unremarkable door. I wanted to get up and touch her. But in reality, she wouldn’t approve it. Not today, of course. There was a time when we both yearned for a touch. In deserted classrooms where many a generations have exchanged banners of affection, we would sit, exploring each other. Ever ready to swiftly switch back to a ‘platonic’ position, we will make use of wooden benches and desks liberally spread in front of us. Like primordial lovers taking a naked stroll across pristine woods, we’ll continue our exploration. It is a pity that those forests were cut for human consumption. But that they have metamorphosed into these desks and benches to cover us did offer some solace.
We had a hundred thousand different ways to touch each other. But on that evening in the hostel room, I wasn’t really sure if I should attempt touching her. Her eyes didn’t reveal much. She wasn’t as animated as I remember her to be. Even if she is in her mood to hate, she should be doing it more passionately. It has been two years since she left me to rot. She should know that I will be utterly ruined without her close to me. She saved me once while I was still roaming around, shrouded in an attire of drugs, passion and innumerable agonies. We were younger and still studying in the college we went together. She appeared in front of me like an angel, despite how cliched it may sound. I should say that my devil’s charms helped me get her attention, but our love was for real. How could she discard our love as tawdry and expendable? How could she think that I am the sole source of her suffering? I will never know. But such are the agonies of living in ‘reality’. In this world, she walks straight to my room at least. Even if it happens at a college I didn’t go to. What were the probabilities of her finding me there, inside a hostel room at a college I didn’t go? Yet she chose to walk straight into my room. If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
She looked more beautiful than ever. This woman, of whom I have thought before going to bed every night over the last six years, had everything with her to make me cry. I chose to ignore her. I tried doing things that could distract me, but failed. I tried sleeping with women I knew are available. Once with a woman a decade older than me. Another with a woman three years younger. I tried to justify all these as a mad attempts to forget her. I calculated that as the frenzy subside, I will be left with time to fix all these. But the wreck I found afterwards, the wreck that I am right now, is an enbodiment of utter devastation.
Then I found myself in this hostel room. And here she is, with her dark eyes near a grey door with a strange reflection. I checked for the red “i” key on my keyboard and if the “enter” key was still tacky. I wish she said anything, for I could use these words to add some meaning to my existence in this limbo. My asthmatic lungs were confused, my allergic collarbone was giving out intermittent sharp cries of pain, but all subdued by a desire to devour every detail of this place where she will walk straight into my room, even after all these years.
There was no conclusive evidence for anything. Even the hypotheses seemed elusive. There was absolutely no anchor to which I could limit myself. I found myself floating outside my body, that was still sitting in a plastic chair in front of my white laptop with a bluetooth keyboard. But I wasn’t limited by any of these. Even her love. I realised that insanity is nothing but infinity reserved for the chosen a few. I decided to relish it for as long as I could hope for.