“I’ll get you your blue deodorant this week.”, I bellowed from the bathroom. I was met with a screech for a reply and I knew it was a thumbs up.
I am not sure if it was the winter chills lapping on my naked skin or that she was leaving in a few days that sent shivers down my spine. I let myself dwell in the former and continued the daunting, early morning sojourn to my office. Having nothing much to do but kill time on a solitary walk, my mind found itself wandering down the boulevard of memories and a silent chuckle escaped my lips, ending up in a thick, gyrating blob of smoke before disappearing in the misty winter air.
Four years in the same college and we had but ran into each other only on the first day of our corporate training program . Or rather, the day before our journey was to take-off in the skies of corporate . The tears on leaving home for the very first time clouded my vision on almost every event that took place that fateful day so our meeting in the hostel lobby, her acknowledging me as a fellow college-mate and managing to squeeze me into the last vacant space in her room, my parents bidding me adieu and me sobbing silently in a room followed by a stranger tapping on the window mouthing the words, “Open the door“.
I swear, it wasn’t just the window she was tapping on. She had knocked on the doors to my heart bruised and battered by many-a-past friendship experiences gone sour. I tried to pull myself together, vulnerable as I was, I didn’t want to let in a stranger into the crevices of my emotionally damaged self. But I couldn’t. All the courage I’d mustered spilled about like marbles, leaving me sobbing in the arms of a strange girl whom I’d just come across in college .
WAIT. WHAT? I was sobbing in her arms? When did she hug me? When did we cross the hugging border? Nevertheless, I cried my heart out and soon, we were exploring a new place, a newfound freedom hitherto unknown to us.
“And my jacket?“.
It was my turn to screech like a banshee from behind the closed doors.
“The jacket, the peach jacket, you oaf!!! “.
My heart jolted 180 degrees and some more. “Please do wash it. God knows what it’ll stink of considering you’ve been donning it for quite sometime now.”, Abhilasha , my roommate during the three month corporate programme guffawed and got back to plastering make-up on her face whilst I battled clothes smeared worth a week’s dirt and dust.
The jacket, I sighed.
“Ooooooohhh!!! Would you LOOOK at THAT PEACH JACKET!“, she sprinted like a three year old eyeing his first ice-cream.
“Get it.“, I nudged her and looked down at the many bags stuffed in MY OWN hands.
“But I don’t HAVE any money left.”, I could see the glimmer dim in her eyes.
“Here“, I handed her some bills. She hugged me and darted through the showroom doors.
What did I know? That jacket was to become a ligature ante , dovetailing one-of-its-kind , though ephemeral, relationship in my life. Friendship, I wouldn’t disparage our bonding by calling it that. I’m pretty sure in a world where trusting people is like lending them a piece of you, it was much more than that.
“Errrmmm…..Can I borrow your jacket?“, I spoke meekly from the blanket covering me from head to wherever the end of the world lay. Her orbs stared at me from behind the thick glassed and nodded in apprehension. Don’t ask me how I came to wear that jacket almost everyday for rest of the winter. All I know is whenever I wanted a jacket, I found myself reaching for the peach one propped away lazily somewhere in my room.
But don’t you get me wrong, I wasn’t some show-stealer who went about gathering other people’s credits. People appreciated my garb and I gladly gave away the secret that it wasn’t mine to begin with.
“Oh but it looks good on YOU”, they’d say. I could feel the atmosphere heat up if she were around.
“Actually it DOES go with you.”, she admitted glibly one lazy Sunday afternoon .
Nevertheless, she would depart one day and the jacket would have to leave with her.
The day before her last day of training, the day she was to head out, she began packing. Let me be honest. I KNEW she was leaving. But it never dawned onto me until then that she was MOVING OUT and I had to spend the rest of my training days alone. I was completely ruling out a strange, rookie roommate. That bond wasn’t going to happen anytime soon again.
As if her ransacking our room and turning it upside down in the name of packing wasn’t baleful enough, she began streaming a quintessential emotional number on the radio. And my heart couldn’t contain it. I shed a silent tear or two facing the other way but then as we were getting late for office, we had to wrap up. She, her packing endeavors and I my tears.
Turns out, as luck would have it, I had to head back home owing to an emergency the very day SHE was leaving. Since we shared hometowns too, I promised to drop by her place that weekend before she would take off for her base location. Needless to say, we met back in our hometown and spent an entire day reminiscing the past and anticipating the future. With promises to meet as often as we both found ourselves in town at the same time, we parted ways.
Riding on the bus back to the office town, I was without any company for the first time in odd three months. Need I say I was missing her? I dragged my tired feet towards my room and voila! a new roommate greeted me with the most succinct smile in the world. “Great!“, I muttered under my breath. We exchanged introductions, greetings et al and I darted towards my bed, too enervated to carry on conversations with a stranger. I was going to throw myself on the bed when I spotted Abhilasha’s passport sized photograph on the window sill.
“She left this behind?“, I glared at the new girl.
She giggled, “That’s not the only thing she’s left behind“.
I threw open my cupboard and found a tiny box wrapped in a shimmering red gift paper, a yellow post-it note stuck by its side.
What ensued was nothing short of a scavenger hunt as I digged through drawers, closets and kitchen to discover tidbits scattered all over the room with my new roommate hopping and skipping behind me and dropping occasional hints in-between.
But nothing could beat last one.
Perched snugly atop my clothes in the cupboard, was a large packet with a peach colored collar peeping out of the wrapping, the following words scratched across a pink post-it.
“It always looked better on you”, it read.