Two days after convocation, I woke up on a mattress shorn of its linen, in a room that did not look like my home for the past year, in a block that was defeaning in its silence.
This had been the scene of the block parties, midnight gossip sessions, of friendship, of laughter and tears, of companionship, of late night meals from Athica’s and hot coffee for 2 AM cram sessions followed by 3 AM Bracket sessions, of lazy weekends spent lolling around, of trying to get back after L^2s (or get to), of charged up weekends seeing volleyball matches and hours spent reading books. This was the home I ran to- the cool refuge, an oasis of green and pink calm and most of all, cleanliness!
I have left the proof on the table…see… that ring was left by my coffee mug. Look at these walls- the paint is peeling because I stuck my pictures and those tiny stars. Look at those flowers painted on the bookshelf. That was done in a burst of creativity that subsided later.
These little signs are all that’s left of my existence in B-204. The rest has been packed up and sent away. Those memories have been filed away neatly. I am feeling a bit nostalgic already… How will the future be?
Maybe I will be that alumna that goes eagerly to her room 10 years hence, look around and explain that this had been my room for my PGP2 year. Or maybe I shall be that alumna who said that IIMB was WAY better then. Maybe I shall never bother coming back… to those faded yellow walls, the dust that had to be swept everyday and the light that woke me up when the sun rose, the lovely blanket I snuggled in at night.
But I bid adieu to that stone maze that was IIMB, knowing I’d come back again.
I take my bags to Mumbai to attend a wedding. It’s 2 days of roaming around and talking. And again the same hugs and promises to keep in touch. I wave my hand at the girls and blow them kisses. The feelings are the same. I am saying bye to the people I lived with and loved.
I reserve a special hug for Vinay and Saikat… It’s been 2 years of bibliophiling with them. Strand book fairs aplenty, loads of birthday mails, sleisha shady stories and again, lovely memories. Another farewell said, and another promise to keep in touch. This time, I can’t seem to let go of their hands…
But, go I must. The auto makes sure of that.
One month later, we’re back for Sonal’s wedding. The whole gang is at Udaipur (minus a few notables who know who they are!) and attending the ceremonies. All of us stay till 2 AM for the phera and then I suddenly realise I have a flight to catch. We get back to the guesthouse in a hurry.
Half an hour later, Sonal is back. We all rush down to see her. She looks like a little doll made to life in her deep red skirt. I watch her take her first steps into the room, her red feet leaving prints on the marble floor.
Noone’s saying a word, but everyone feels it… the gravity of the situation. This does not feel like the other weddings I have been to. A lump rises in my throat and my eyes suddenly feel slightly wet.
The ending is anti-climactic. All of us walk quietly away from the passage and agree that this was… poignant.
I greedily hold those memories close to my heart, looking around trying to blaze into my mind those last moments. Our last card game, the last night talking together, our last trip (Rooti Rani anyone?!), throwing the peas at each other.
We’re still gloriously together but soon it’ll be time to go.
And all too soon, I need to leave to the airport to go to Mumbai. I need to get my visa. And four guys have volunteered to drop me off! Karan says, “Georgy, last night I was the only one who said I’d come. And today you seem ultra popular.”
Abhay*, Ken and Jayarama squeeze into the Maruti as well. I am giggling like a small child and my spirits are high.
Half an hour later, I have been deposited at the small Udaipur airport. I hug them all and stand waving till the car leaves. Suddenly, I feel alone and my heart is heavy. I have just bid farewell to the best days of my life.**
This time, it’s just that distance.
I walk into the marble tiled departure hall. It’s the start of a new life.
It’s hard to say goodbye… To IIMB, my friends, to the life I led, to India, to my family. To those who have made me who I am, to the ones I love so much, this is not a goodbye.
*Yes, the selfsame one.
**Till now anyway.