2. Oly, Silver Grill and Someplace.
3. Buy useless stationary at Oxford.
4. Watch the sun set from the outside terrace.
5. Spend the night at Jahnavi's and go on the roof one last time.
6. Eat hot buttered toast and tea at Vikram's.
7. Go to the lakes and see if they're actually beautiful or just hyped up.
8. Go to Shormi's little picture perfect house and play the piano.
9. Win a game of foosball.
10. Smoke the bong and play that board game with Shourjo and Jayatri.
11. Get everyone together and play articulate.
12. Eat as much of Bouchi's mango ice cream as possible.
13. Steal some more books from Jahnavi J.
14. Steal some more clothes from Jahnavi G.
15. One last sleepover at Min's with Pupu.
16. Go out for early morning cha with Siddharth and Aditya and Vikram.
17. Spend a day at Tolly swimming and eating pancakes and strolling around the golf course looking for graves.
18. Spend the night at Tanvi's and fall asleep by ten like I always do.
19. Sit in the garden with all my building friends.
20. Hug and kiss Mama as often as possible.
21. Watch My Fair Lady, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice with Dida.
22. Buy even more clothes.
23. Go to Victoria Memorial and feed apples to the horses.
24. Walk barefoot around Birla Mandir.
25. Steak and french fries at CCFC.
26. One last game of dota with Siddharth, Aditya, Vikram, Varun. And Jayatri.
27. Convince Pud Kaka to let me drive down that grassy lane near Alipore.
28. Say goodbye to Ringo.
29. Get one last haircut from Bridget.
30. Play 70s pop songs on the Alipore piano.
31. Go to Thakuma's little library room and smell the books.
32. Sleep on her bed under the mosquito net.
33. Ring doorbells of all the Kusum flats and run away.
34. Take lots of photographs of everyone and everything.
35. Say goodbye to Pokey the Cactus.
36. Watch a meaningless commercialised movie at Forum (preferably Wolverine)
37. Get Siddharth to drive really fast on the flyover into Red Road, roll down the window and stick my head out.
38. Play Dead or Alive on Varun's Xbox.
39. Watch Disney movies with Minnie.
40. Spend as much time as possible in my room.
41. Go for a tram ride.
42. See if I can get the T2 delivered to Delhi everyday.
43. Nut corners at Kookie Jar.
44. Go to Vidyasagar Setu and see what the fuss is all about.
45. Breakfast at Flury's.
46. Be as happy as I've ever been.
The sadness, when it finally comes, can wait. I don't want it now.
Remember in one of my posts, I was talking about the T2 girl? Anyway, after T2 girl called me and the documented conversation occurred and she told me she'd give me a time, I got a text from a number saying, "Trish, is ten am tomorrow ok with you?"
Naturally I assumed it was T2 girl .
So I sent her a text saying I'd let her know. Later that night, I texted the number saying would they come to my house to take the photograph. I think I've already mentioned this before- T2 girl sent a very rude text back saying that she would meet me at St Xaviers at ten.
Anyway, like I said, I fell asleep so it never happened.
AFTER that, I got a strange text from T2 girl asking "whether the office (was) open". Naturally, I was confused. What office was she talking about? The Telegraph Office? So I sent her a very polite text asking her what office she was referring to. The reply I got was highly insulting. Apparently it was the Xaviers office and apparently I was a fool/moron/something. I was so surprised by the rudeness of T2 girl that I didn't reply. Then I got a phone call from her where she spoke to me about college offices very rudely.
I was extremely glad that I hadn't gone to take that stupid picture. I fervently hoped T2 girl's article would be pictureless.
Two days later, I called Jayatri for Joey's number. She gave me a number and I called it and T2 girl's name popped up on the screen. What a strange coincidence.
So I called Jayatri back and told her she'd given me the wrong number- either she knew T2 girl and gave me her number instead of Joey's by mistake or she actually changed a digit by accident and by some huge horrible coincidence, it was T2 girl's number.
I was convinced that I'd never escape T2 girl. We were bound together forever.
But Jayatri insisted it was Joey's number so I called again and T2 girl picked up. And then for the first time, I realised that the voice was familiar. I'd heard it over and over again in Elective English class, squealing over Auden and abusing Yeats. I'd heard it pass snide comments about people in the school corridor. I'd heard it repeatedly drawing the world's attention to the size of my nose.
T2 girl was Joey.
I sat and explained the whole story to Joey who laughed.
Two days later I got a call from a different number. It was T2 girl. She spoke very politely and asked me to go to South City for a photoshoot along with Aditya, Vikram and Siddharth. So we went. Not Siddharth because he had to go for his Art of Living class where he has to breathe for three hours at a stretch in order to get rid of all the toxins in his body (he puts them all back as soon as class is over) But I took Saptarshi instead.
The photographer took the photos (to my relief, T2 girl wasn't there) and we all looked like morons.
This is the end of the T2 saga.
The theory I was propagating was this: Once you get a haircut, your life will change. But it has to be DIFFERENT- not the Joey/Shalmi type.
I'm more convinced than ever about this because I've experienced it firsthand. After ISC, I went to Bridget Jones' parlour and I got a haircut. That was the first time I went to Bridget and I solemnly vow I'm never going to anyone else as long as I live. She identified my hair problem straight away (it's too straight and limp) and explained how she was going to correct it (lots of layers, Trisha) and as I sat there, in that swivel chair, I felt safe. Not only safe, but contented.
I was right to trust her. That was a seriously awsome haircut.
This is what happened to me after:
1) I embarked on my Amazing Holiday. Granted it was planned way before the haircut, but it would have been much less Amazing with that old limp hair.
2) I came back home and suddenly there were lots of boys running after me. And by lots, I mean at least four. Without exaggeration. Now, this has caused problems on its own because quite honestly, I am attracted to no one. None of them are particularly hot/intelligent/charming/Mr Darcyish so I spend most of my time running away from them like a startled fawn. Or a thundering elephant, according to my father. Whatever. But it's done wonders for my ego and let's face it, I suffer from such low self esteem this could only be a good thing.
3) I did extremely well in ISC. Like seriously. I kicked ass. I'm now considered the most intelligent member in the family (on both sides). This is not really an achievement since my mother's side is full of self righteous Bengalis- for example, I have an uncle who apparently believes he is the Prince of Purulia and my father's side is full of weird alcoholics and druggies who are all too busy marrying and divorcing to bother with intellectual achievement. But still. When you look at the number of people belonging to my extended families (all my great grandparents must have been very fond of sex), it is quite an achievement.
Granted, ISC was BEFORE I got my haircut. But the results- which were the sweetest part- came after. So ha.
4) My nose has gone smaller. Seriously. At least, it looks smaller. At least three people have told me this. Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, if I'm having a good day, I catch an occasional glimpse of my eyes or mouth. It's not always All Nose.
5) There are actually many more points but unfortunately, since this is a semi public forum, I can't put them down because they're too juicy. Haha.
So, once again, I repeat the theory I'm going to live by for the rest of my life. Good Haircuts Change Lives. (Bad haircuts change lives too but in a different way)
Yesterday, Tanvi came over to go through some stuff for the JU entrance exam. In the evening, once we were done, I dragged her off to Bridget so I could get another haircut. She sat reading Browning and I confidently (I've never had such confidence in a hairdresser before) sat myself in the swivel chair.
Bridget came and asked me whether I had anything in mind.
"No, I trust you," I said, smiling beatifically.
She started snipping my hair.
Once again, my faith in her has been justified. It's a good haircut.
I look forward to new changes in my life.
Sounds semi interesting, right?
So when the girl called, I was all ready to talk about the pains I'm facing via Literature vs. History and Stepehens vs. Jadavpur.
This is how the conversation went:
Girl: Hi, did Rohini tell you about me?
Me: Yes, yes she did.
Girl: Cool. Ok, basically I'm from T2 and we're doing a spread about what people- freshman like yourself- are going to wear to college on the first day.
Girl: Ya. So. What are you going to wear?
Me: Uh. I haven't actually got into all my colleges yet.
Girl: But like, obviously you're going to wear different things to different places. Like, you wouldn't wear the same thing to Stephens and JU. You'd dress according to the environment right?
Me: Uh. No.
Girl: So you've given no thought to what you're going to wear?
(I always laugh when I'm nervous and uncomfortable)
Me: Uh, probably something casual. What I usually wear. I wouldn't like, prepare anything special or something. Just whatever's in my cupboard. I mean, my fashion sense isn't heneious so I should be safe.
Girl: Anyway can we get your picture for T2?
Girl: Can. We. Take. A. Picture. Of. You. For. The. Article. Which. Is. Going. To. Be. Coming. Out. In. The. T2.
Me: *immensely flustered by the thought of my picture coming out in the papers even if it's a lame newspaper like the T2 where everyone's pictures come out* Uh, I don't know if I'm free tomorrow. Can I let you know by tonight.
Girl: *disapprovingly* Okay.
I spent the rest of the evening thinking about what I was going to wear and flexing my arms in the mirror to see if they were looking fat. Frantically began wishing I hadn't been eating so much the past couple of days. Finally, I told myself to stop being an ass and texted her saying I'd be able to meet her. There were furthur complications regarding the venue (I was under the impression they'd be coming to my house- which is a crime, judging by the reaction I got) and I went to sleep, my head full of clothes.
All for nothing.
I was supposed to meet them at ten and I woke up at ten thirty.
My lameness surprises even me at times.
"The slogans got louder, especially as the car passed. But thankfully I didn't understand them because they were in Bengali."
She also resented the fact that I made it sound like I was stepping foot into foreign territory.
So mother, I would like to make it clear that:
1) I'm very aware of the fact that Bengali blood that flows through my veins.
2) I do understand Bengali, having been forced to study it for the past twelve years.
3) The fact that I understand Bengali has been proven by my ISC Bengali marks which were a respectable 64%.
However, in my defence, I would like to state that words like Oposhongshkriti are words that I have yet to come across in both school syllabi and in what I ask Bouchi (cook) to make for lunch at home.
Which is really the extent of my Bengali.
And that's your fault. Not mine.
Me: Do you have an amazing tan?
Pupu: No. I didn't go to the beach.
Me: What did you do?
Pupu: I sat inside the room and ate and slept.
Me: You didn't go to the beach even once?
Pupu: No ya. But I did go see a temple.
Me: What was it like?
Me: Yeah, I heard Puri temples were. Okay. Do you want to come over this afternoon?
Pupu: No ya. I'm sick.
Pupu: Sore throat.
Pupu: I'm really bored being stuck at home.
Me: Don't worry, Pupu. I'll come over and see you.
Pupu: Great ya.
So I, despite the terrible heat, got into a cab (no Sabir since it was Sunday) and got myself to Pupu's house. The cab driver didn't even have change. I had to exchange money from a passing stranger. Then I nearly got run over while crossing the road.
Now I don't want to imply that Pupu isn't worth the trouble I took. Of course she is. She's pure delight. I got to her house and she was there waiting for me and we hugged and squealed because we hadn't seen each other for more than two months.
Then I sat and told her all about my holiday and she sat and told me all about her boyfriend and then we ate an entire slab of chocolate and felt very sick.
She sat quite close to me and because I have a crap immune system, I said, "Pupu, be careful. I can't afford to fall sick right now."
"It's okay, ya," said Pupu. "This isn't contagious,"
Now for some reason, I believed her. I don't know why I did this. I think it might have been because: a) I forgot Pupu was in fact, Pupu or b) The combination of heat and sticky Crackle was just too much for my poor little brain.
Anyway I spent the entire afternoon with her, cheering her up and trying to direct my positive golden light towards her in order to heal her.
Last night, after eating a big Italian dinner, I was talking to a friend on the phone when I realised I had a sore throat. The friend advised me to take some medicine right away but I ignored this advice. I had yet to learn that Pupu Germs are stronger than Regular Germs.
This morning I woke up with a mega sore throat, a blinding headache and a raging fever.
I picked up my phone to text Pupu.
My Text: Pupu, you donkey. I have fever thanks to you.
Pupu replied almost instantly.
Pupu's text: Ya. I got fever too today. Heh heh.
So I spent the entire goddamn day in bed, eating nothing and sleeping throughout. May I just add that none of my friends came to see me.
I don't want to blame you Pupu, but they were all willing to, until they heard that I caught this horrible disease from you.
Wait. Let me start from the start.
First, I went to school to pick up my attested forms and my character certificate. Note: They have the same damn character certificate for everyone which says- I can't remember what it says but it doesn't really say anything about your character. And they fill in your name in a blank space.
After that, I went to SBI (Gariahat) to submit the JU money. It was very crowded. I couldn't breathe. There were fifty people ahead of me and one old man had the audacity to cut in front of me. I tried to tell him something but I couldn't. My father is right when he says I'm too passive to be left to face the world alone. I gave up eventually and went to the Dhakuria branch. This was less crowded. But another person cut in front of me there too.
Am I one of those people who have an invisible sign on their forehead saying, "I'm a total sap. Please cut in front of me"?
Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that one.
Anyway, then I got that done and went to Jadavpur University. I've finally reached the whole point of this entry.
That place scared the fuck out of me.
I was driven into Gate #5 by Sabir. We didn't know where to go. Not a guard in sight. Drove a little ahead and saw a guard sleeping under a tree. There was a fly buzzing around his head. I thought he was dead for a moment but then he snored and I walked up to him.
Me: Excuse me.
Me: Uh, hello?
Guard: *opens an eye* Ki?
Me: Uh. Admission.
Guard: *points up ahead and goes back to sleep*
So I got back in the car and was driven up ahead, passing scary looking people walking in the sun, shooting murderous looks at me. I remembered what everyone said about it being a Marxist place and began to wish I was in rags walking down with them in rubber chappals. Uncle Rohan warned me that place would do that to me.
Finally I reached a building and there was a long line in front of it. It was the third longest line I'd ever seen. (The first being the one in Science City before the Jethro Tull concert and the second being the line in front of Thunder Mountain Rollercoaster in Disneyland, Paris) I sadly walked to the end of it. I was horrified to note that everyone had jholas that bore a startling resemblance to the purple one that I carry about everywhere. So its true what they say about JUDEs and their jholas.
I walked to the end of the line and there was a scary looking fat woman there.
Scary Looking Fat Woman: Is this the line for Science?
Me: *smiling sweetly* I hope not. I thought there was just one line for everything.
Scary Looking Fat Woman: *looks at me like I'm demented* No, there isn't.
Me: Oh. Well I'm looking for the Arts line.
Scary Looking Fat Woman: *points to where there is no line.*
Me: Uh, thank you.
As I walked away I distinctly heard her mutter pagol phirang under her breath but I chose to ignore it.
So I walked to where there was no line, just a table and a woman thrust a question paper (apparently previous years' entrance exams) at me and demanded twenty rupees. So I silently fished out twenty rupees to her and she steered me over to a man who looked me up and down very disapprovingly.
Man: *looking at form* You need to change this. *points to something* And you haven't filled in this. *points to something else*
Me: Uh, okay.
Man: Where is your ICSE marksheet?
Me: I don't have it.
Man: *looks at me*
Me: I thought we only needed ISC.
Man: *keeps looking at me*
Me: I'll come back tomorrow.
Man: Come on Monday.
So then I scarpered, leaving behind the question papers I paid twenty bucks for.
I ran down the road and called Sabir and asked him to bring the car to where I was standing. Meanwhile, people started chanting slogans behind me. A bald man in a red bandana leered at me. The slogans got louder, especially as the car passed. But thankfully I didn't understand them because they were in Bengali. I got into the car, ignoring the dirty looks I was getting from college students passing by, and sank as low as I could in my seat until we were on the main road again.
To top it all off, there was a cockroach near me and I screamed so loudly Sabir nearly drove into a bus.
This does not bode well for the future.
It's a present from her mother. There is no special occasion- it isn't her birthday, it isn't Christmas. But her mother, whose face Pria can't even recall unless she glances at photographs, doesn't believe in special occasions. She always phones on Pria's birthday though, and sends cards with doves on them at Christmas. She emails twice a month- not proper emails but the sort you send to a lot of people which talk about the empowerment of women or saving starving children in Africa. Pria never reads them.
About thrice a year however, parcels are delivered to her house- parcels with an English stamp on them. Of course sometimes they have Spanish stamps, sometimes French, sometimes Turkish because Pria's mother is a dazzling, glittering creature and dazzling, glittering creatures never stay in one place for long. Not even at home with their families. Especially not at home with their families.
These parcels usually contain books- strange and wonderful books- or movies that have certainly never been played in any of the theatres Pria knows. Sometimes she rips open the sedate brown paper to find tiny jewel like oil paintings gleaming at her.
It's a painting this time. A painting of a man standing on a bridge, his hands on either side of his head and his mouth opened in a soundless scream. A blood red sky swirls over his head and a deep blue stream runs under the bridge. There are two figures walking casually towards him but Pria feels as if they are moving with a purpose and she can almost hear their quick, light footsteps. She shivers suddenly which is odd, because the day is warm and sultry.
She looks at the screaming man again- of course it could easily be a woman but she feels it is a man. She can't really understand why he is screaming because the sky and the water and the bridge look as if they ought to have been quite beautiful. The figures at the back don't have to be menacing. But they are.
The entire painting is.
Pria shudders slightly and places it inside a drawer. She doesn't really want it hanging on her wall. It speaks too much.
Her father comes home later than usual that evening. The sky has already turned dark and the moon is firmly in its place.
Pria is glad to see her father. She's been very restless all day, pacing up and down her room with an uneasy feeling in her heart. The sort of feeling she gets when she feels she ought to understand something but doesn't. The feeling is becoming more frequent now that she is becoming older. As if there is a blinding golden light inside her that's struggling to break free and lift her into the air and throw her across the skies.
She sits with her father in his study that evening like she always does. He sinks into his little armchair with a Scotch clasped tightly in his hand. Pria sometimes wonders about the tightness of his grip as he holds onto his glass and worries a little, but he never has more than two a day. Pria understands enough to know he never will.
"What did you do today?" he asks.
Pria hesitates. She knows she should tell him about the parcel- he will find out anyway- but she also knows that his lips will turn into a thin, straight line and he won't say anything for the rest of the evening. She'll tell him tomorrow.
"Nothing really. Watched a movie, finished my book, did the crossword, talked on the phone a lot," she says casually, feeling a hot sharp stab of discontent shoot through her.
"Sounds like fun," her father murmurs, turning his attention to the television.
But it isn't fun. None of it is. And she is forced to do it everyday because it is her life. It isn't enough. The light inside her grows brighter, almost dazzling.
Pria looks at her father again. He is sitting so contentedly, nursing his drink and watching his cricket.
She wonders what he is thinking about. Probably nothing. Just like everybody else she knows and for the first time in her life, she looks at her father with disgust.
Pria stretches out on the sofa and starts reading a book: words she can't really feel. She feels bewildered, unhappy. Her stomach is churning and her head feels like it is about to explode. The light inside her is blinding her.
She feels trapped.
Before Pria goes to bed that night, she takes the painting out and glances at it again. There is a small piece of paper that she hadn't noticed earlier, attached to its frame.
Copy of 'The Scream', Edvard Munch, it says in her mother's loopy writing.
Pria studies the painting carefully and this time, she understands just why the sky is painted in such harsh swirls of bright red. Maybe her mother understands too. Maybe that's why she sent it to Pria. The closest she can ever come to an apology.
Pria puts the painting away again and goes to stand at her window. The moon peers at her from behind a cloud and the night is unforgivingly still.