Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Namesake




I was bored. And a tad frustrated with myself for being so utterly useless. The New Year hadn’t brought anything new to my life. It was the same. Silver Oak 1 to SH1 and back again with the occasional trip to the city. I would sit mindlessly in class, not really listening to the professor. One professor went and the other came in. It really didn’t matter who was standing in front of the class. Sometimes, I would start reading to get rid of this strange mood that seemed to have set in. Somehow, I haven’t finished it yet. I forget how many times I have re-issued the book. Things weren't really going my way, both on the personal and professional front.

As usual, I was cribbing to Dennis, about how useless I am. Sarah was thankfully asleep; otherwise she would have been the unlucky victim. It was 6 15 pm and I wanted to go out. MICA campus seemed to suffocate me all of a sudden. Spontaneously, Dennis and I decided to take a walk to the lake in Shela village. Somehow I had always imagined myself sitting at the steps that lead to the lake, breathing in some fresh air and just enjoying the tranquillity, ever since that first time I had come in a rickshaw to MICA with my suitcases filled with clothes and my heart filled with hope.

We started walking to the lake and he got a phone call. It feels nice, I wondered to myself. To just breathe in some different air, even though it was all the same everywhere. I felt a little better, although the restlessness was still there. I knew it wouldn’t leave so soon. It had become an old friend. The kind who keeps fleeting in and out of your life, periodically. With me lost in a philosophical dialogue with myself and Dennis talking to a friend on the phone, we never realised when we reached the lake. I quickly went down the steps. I was eager. I wanted to tick this off my list of things to do as soon as possible. As I stood with Dennis on the last step, I realised how foolish I am. I was disappointed. It didn’t really feel great. The lake was dirty. And it smelled.

Dennis laughed at me, mocking me as usual. I guess, some things don’t really turn out to be so great when you finally get them.

We started back to the campus and we met three cute little girls on the way, walking in the same direction. At first, they looked at me and smiled. There was so much innocence. When I gave them a smile too, they started giggling. Dennis started talking to them and took a picture with his phone. That set off another big round of giggles.

“Jo aene photo lidho apado!” (See, he took our picture)

I spoke to the little girl in gujarati. Asked her name.

‘”Rehana,” she answered with a big smile. “Nargis,” the other one replied, not wanting to be left out. The other girl had run to her uncle and was walking ahead with him. Perhaps, she was shy.

I complimented them on their names.

“Tamara naam ketla sundar che!”, I said. (Your names are so beautiful!)

Then, Rehana asked me something.

“Tamaru naam su che?” (What is your name?)

When I answered, she said, “Mari ben nu pan ej che! Tamari jetli motti che!” (My sister also has the same name. She’s as big as you!)

“Oh, su kare che ae?” I enquired politely. (Oh, what does she do?)

Meanwhile Dennis was walking with us, trying to make head and tail out of this conversation.

“Ae kaam karva jay” she said proudly. (She goes to work.)

I asked her what work she does. “Ae vaasan kare”, she replied. (She washes utensils)

The girls had reached their destination but we hadn’t. We bade farewell to them as they turned to their right into the courtyard of a house.

Dennis asked me about what we talked about. I explained to him how I have a namesake and the work that she does. Dennis, as usual, said in his mocking tone, “Imagine, here are you, studying in a good school, completing your post graduation and there she is, a girl with the same name, almost the same age, earning her bread and butter by washing utensils.”

I was silent for a while. Didn’t I know that too? How lucky I was to have this opportunity! But the restlessness still wouldn’t go.

During the rest of the so called return journey to the MICA campus, I continued cribbing.


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