July 15, 2004

Heat

You know it is hot like hell, when all it takes is less than a few minutes, after a shower, for the first beads of sweat to appear on you brow. The last time I felt this miserable about the weather was during my early days as a student in Delhi, sharing a shoebox room with two other batch mates. Our room was a barsati and by the time we would come back from the institute, it used to feel like being inside a pressure cooker.

As a result, we used to sleep with the many others on the open terrace, looking at the stars in a windless night, hoping that the fumes from the mosquito coil would keep away the buzzing creatures from us. Around us, the times when sleep was elusive, the rustic village-turned-overcrowded-shanty could be seen in the moonlight, looking like an ailing, suffocated beast, waiting, in vain, for a chance to exhale.

That was towards the end of 2000 and since then all three of us have gone our different ways due to various reasons. There was a time when we used to think, considering the tough times that we pulled through together, that our friendship was going to last forever. Now we know it does not work that way. If it was the lack of time in one case, it was a lack of consideration that that led to the split in the other.

After the loss of many a good friend and now in the august company of hindsight, I still cannot say whether I understand how friendships work. Over time, I have moved through many sets of friends. While some have had the displeasure of being discarded by me, the intervention of poetic justice has ensured that I get paid back in the same coin and be discarded by others.

There used to be a time when I would try to keep all of them with me, if it was possible. I would jump over multiple hoops; push myself into impossible corners and in general make a total idiot of myself trying to keep everyone happy. Thankfully, that has changed considerably and these days I prefer dying by a handful of swords that I choose to live by too. Still, I do wonder about those times.

Meanwhile, the heat continues unabated. I can see the shadows outside crisp like a summer noon, even though it is past five in the evening. The air conditioning in the room stubbornly refuses to work for more than a few days in a row and there is not a single fan in the room. I cannot escape the feeling of living in a novel set in the old days of the Raj -- feeling hot, sweaty and very bothered.