The Promise Part-1|| HCIBT #2
Have you heard the Hindi phrase: Phoonk Phoonk kar pair rakhna? It is true metaphorically and literally in Delhi streets. They are so dirty that you be careful and look before stepping. It smells of shit, looks like a dump, and feels like a colony of dirt-loving aliens. Ironically, the supposed-to-be most educated people in the country don't think twice before throwing their trash in the open street. And more ironically, life is natural around the heaps of stinking garbage. People are coming and going avoiding the shit. Some of them are carrying the things of their needs, groceries, washing powder, and Paneer. People were walking in and out of shops. None of them seems to be bothered about the environment.
I woke up early because the floor was colder than I expected. I was staying in the Gurudwara temporarily until I got the accommodation. The college had already rejected my request for residence inside the campus. So I was on a PG hunt. I got information from google that there were several PGs in the Vijaynagar area. And I got there to look for a place to live. But after seeing this site, I lost my desire for it.
I pushed myself a little ahead to a narrow road. Above me, I could notice the electric wires, complicatedly entangled with each other like woolen threads after not being touched for a year. My sister could separate the woolen threads, but I wasn't sure if anyone on this earth could tell which wires go where in this mixture. I joked about asking my Physics teacher to apply Kirchoff's laws here on this complex network of circuits. If whatever they were teaching us was of any use, this would be an excellent example to test them out. Some of the wires were hanging so low that I wondered why don't humans run into them. And as it turns out: the humans here have a great skill of cognitively ignoring the shit that is none of their business.
I was looking sideways for any hoarding or poster, including words like Boys PG, Boys hostel, etc. I had found a few in the past, but none had stricken me yet with such an influence that I would award it my residence for the next few years. Every empty room in this area is on rent. People have turned their houses into PGs. Or some extra business-minded person had bought all the homes and turned them into small PGs. There were particular PG buildings as well, which were made of small rooms that didn't have space for anything other than two beds, two tables, and two almirahs. There were rooms with no windows; there were rooms where sunlight was impossible to enter; there were rooms crowded by more and more rooms that we could suffocate if we resided in them. The PGs were not for a living but just a ceiling to sleep under and a locker for belongings. One can not call this room your home in any condition, but it's a mere formality.
I was looking for a PG, but my attention was on people. People with the incredible skill of avoiding dung without even noticing it. People were walking with earphones in their ears and eyes on their phones. People show off their wealth in various innovative ways. I walked some more steps, and my eye caught a man carrying his child in a trolly. The child was crying ear-splittingly. I stayed there for a moment and watched. The father first ignored the cry of his baby, but at a point, he could ignore it anymore. He gathered the courage and held the baby in his arms. The baby stopped crying immediately. I was glad to witness the exposure to traditional love. But to my utter surprise, the father put the baby back into the trolly. I was stunned by this horrifying scene of paternal love. After a few minutes, the baby started crying again. But this time, the father turned a deaf ear and continued driving the trolly, neatly avoiding waste.
I stood there, stunned in surprise. How could someone do that? Did capitalism win over emotional prudence? Did showing off become so important that a father's love for his child was dwarfed by it? Anyway! If I wanted to live here, I would have to learn the art of minding my own business.
Disappointed and frustrated, I made my way ahead. I went into another Boys PG with half expectancy to find something different but disappointed again. The owner of the PG himself showed us PG. He had buried his face in his latest model of iPhone as he talked about the rooms. He didn't try to market it at all. I was getting a feeling from his behavior and appearance that he didn't care if I took the PG. He was already earning a lot. The rooms of this PG were no different. They could hardly house anything more than two beds and two tables. The wardrobe was built into the wall.
"But there are no tables in this room."
"You will get the tables once you settle in."
"But I don't have a roommate."
"We will arrange someone for you. Don't worry." He said in an assuring voice.
"Don't you have any single rooms?"
"No! We don't have any single rooms." He said firmly. It was clear that he was not keen to sell the seat. If his workers had been doing this job, they would have done better. He held too much high authority to sell seats, I thought. He then turned to me.
"Do you wish to live here?" He seemed in a mood to make a deal right there.
I have already considered the idea. I could not live with a possible total stranger. It should be in my college or class, even if I wanted to share a room with him. I had to compromise because the single rooms in all PGs are either already sold or too expensive. The idea of sharing a room with a stranger seemed horrible, but I knew I would have to learn this art too if I wanted to survive here.
"I am not sure about it yet. I will consider it."
"Consider very soon. The rooms are not going to remain vacant for long. This building is almost full. The term has already started. You should settle soon." There was some advice in his voice that I didn't like at all.
"Thank You. Where is the water point?"
"You will get water coolers once you settle in."
"What? I am thirsty now. I want water to drink." I said in a frustrated voice.
I got some water to drink, but I was not satisfied. I left the PG. The hot July sun was burning above my head. The drops of sweat rolled down my neck. I could feel the coldness on my neck as the drops instantly evaporated in the hot air. The process was tiring. The outcomes were disappointing. And I had yet to have lunch. It was clear that I had to compromise with whatever I was getting here. But I can hear a weak voice inside my head: it had to be better somewhere. I couldn't possibly be this bad. Not all the areas were this dirty. The area in which the Gurudwara was located was cleaner. Maybe I could find a less filthy place to live: hope was always there.
I returned to the Gurudwara. I was happy as a clam when I saw Langar being served in the great hall of the Gurudwara. I was starving, and nothing else could have made me more delightful. The food was so delicious that I was afraid to chew my fingers. Being tired and surfeited, I decided to rest in the gallery near the pond. The floor was cold thanks to the high heat capacity of the water near it. I took the seat under the fan. I stared at the rotating blades of the fan. The farthest points from the center move faster than those closer to the center. I could see the parking lot under construction. It had not made much progress since my last visit. And the work was completely dead at the moment.
I was sure the plan was to continue the construction in the middle. But plans have an exceptional characteristic: They fail. It is their nature of their to fail. Look at my perfect strategy: come early to Delhi, stay here in the adobe of Guru, and look for accommodation. I would go home on Sunday and return with my luggage. Here I am on Sunday, still searching for a place to live. I was in a terrible situation. I would be out of fresh clothes tomorrow, on my first day of college. What would I do after that? It was my deadline to find someplace today, and I failed that. I had started to fail deadlines even before the start of the term. I needed someone to make the decision for me, to scold me, to make me do this more quickly. I wished my sister had been here with me. fail
I stared at the fan again. This time with disappointment. The blades seemed to rotate faster, and my concentration became weak. My eyelids became heavy, and they fell over my eyeballs. I dozed off the stress.
I woke up at a litter after five in the evening. I had a lot to do for the day, it was like I wasted the day thinking about what to do, and I was going to do the same in the remaining. First, I needed new notebooks and stationery for the term starting tomorrow.
As the sun sets and the earth starts to cool down, the atmosphere in the evening takes a different shape in Delhi. A great surprise to Maxwell, the people become more excited as the temperature decreases in Delhi. People start to chatter around the corners, more food stalls take place in the dirty streets, and people don't mind eating in the muddy street. People walk around excitedly shopping in the temporary shops at the road's edge.
I walked on the road that leads to college from Gurudwara and observed everything around me. I noticed that there were people from every state of India. They had different complexions, languages, fashions, and different behaviors.
There was a crowd near the tea corner. I went there to have a cup for myself. I placed the order and sat down at an empty table. In front of me, a boy and a girl were talking in fluent English. I could only watch them talking because I didn't get much much. I could see girls with western fashion showing off their wealth all around me. They were wearing shorts with showed their bare legs. Girls were hanging hand in hand with boys, which was a new and strange sight for a boy from a rural area. I had only seen that in movies.
My order was ready. I fetched that and sat down, sipping my tea, but my mind was not on the tea. My mind was occupied with the culture here.
This would be quite a change in the culture and environment for me. I have only seen this kind of thing in movies, and when I looked from this close, it all seemed magical, unreal. For a moment, I wondered if my chance to come here was rare. Do I belong here, or is it just a fluke that I got into such a prestigious institution for higher education. But whatever the thing might be, I could see a great chance of improvement.
I focused on the vapor rising from the cup of tea. The atoms of water escape from the surface of tea into the infinity of free space. Are they amazed by the infiniteness of the space? When a bottle of perfume is opened in a room. The perfume molecules wandering inside the bottle for a long time are exposed to more enormous volume for the first time. For a while, they would be amazed by the room's vastness compared to their previous home; they would need clarification on where to go. But their momentum carries them forward. They evolve through time. They pass every possible microstate, and they explore every corner of the room.
I was exactly like the perfume molecule getting out of the nozzle of spray. I was a little under-excited, but I had an infinity to explore. I had something to build for myself. Infinite choices, infinite parallel worlds, infinite knowledge roles to learn. I just needed to go with the momentum. It always boils down to the point of view, and it can be one thing to think that I don't know English, but it also means that this environment provides me a unique opportunity to learn. It was my best shot at the chance, and I would not miss it.
At that time, I finished the tea. I had extra confidence raised in my chest. I went to the stationery store and bought some notebooks and pens. And went straight to sleep. I didn't think much about the PG hunt etc. I was now excited about my first day of college. My sister called me just after dinner to ask how it was going. We talked about general things first which I won't mention here because it will just make the word count more.
"No, I didn't find PG. This place is so dirty, it's stinking. How am I supposed to live here. And the main problem is, I don't know anyone to be my roommate. I am alone here. And the environment is so different you know. People here are on next level, so many levels ahead. I don't know if I even belong here."
"What do you want to do then? Leave everything, come home? Make a joke of the opportunity you have got, and throw the hardwork of yours in water? And when did you start to have everything perfect in your life? You have always found joy in little things, think about it bro. You have always used my books, You said yourself that it helped you, My annotations? These things you think as a curse are actually boons. You might find a lot of joy in these PGs, I can guarantee that. Maybe it can give you an excuse to wander out less and study more in your room. You would love that, won't you?"
Her words were looking as she was scolding me but he tone suggested otherwise. But She was making sense.
"So what do you want me to do?" I asked her simply.
"Ah, I don't know. You should ask your friends, your classmates. See where they are living. Go visit their PGs with them. That might help you even find a roommate. It's okay if you don't know anyone. But you have to take the first step."
I considered that for a moment. She was right, I needed to ask my classmates. It's better to have a room partener from my class then a complete stranger.
"Tomorrow is my first day at college. I will do that for sure. I promise."