Illustrations: Maitri Dore
I woke up in the middle of the night hearing the rustle of the papers pinned to my green board. I dreamt that the equations on them were having sex and producing more equations. Some meta equation driving the equation proliferation. Of course, there was nothing too surprising about the concept of equations having more action than me.
All the instant food I’ve eaten in the last few days has rolled into a ball in my stomach and is trying to roll right back out. Maybe if I had just had some ice cream, the ball would feel happier staying inside my stomach, stagnating in cold milk. Alternatively, I can help myself in other ways and find my lost friend sleep. Fall slowly into a rabbit hole like Alice and be pulled out of it like Malootty.
Why won’t Shashi Kapoor on my Bombay Talkies poster stare back at me with the same intensity with which he stares at his heroines? Probably because of the big pimple on my nose filled with the slush of ink and paper from the references I haven’t read for tomorrow.
I suppose one of the perks of being in a long-distance relationship is that you can foster a few pimples which pixelate into the rest your skin on Skype.
Belle and Sebastian sing to me, “It’s a nice day for sulk”. It really is.
When we first started dating at university last year, the exam anxiety was worse and I had grown all sorts of things like cabin fever, a hyperawareness of my racial identity and a “critical attitude” towards everybody and everything. I suppose it’s one way in which “international” students attempt to cope in angrezistaan. My partner on the other hand was comfortable with himself and his surroundings, and tried his best to help me find comfort by cooking for me, inviting me to social things and subjecting me to Bollywood movies. Then he graduated and moved out, but I had another year to go.
Prima facie we were a couple that subscribed to the cliché of Indians who hung out with Indians abroad, but really, we had nothing in common except for sometimes the way we felt when we read the news. And it was really beautiful, then beautifully banal and then just banal. Doom gloomed over our long-distance relationship.
If we were to meet in India again, in a budget hotel again, they would tell us, without looking at me, a linear combination of the following verse;
“Please carry a valid govt. issued address ID proof (PAN cards not valid)
with address not in the same city as the hotel”
“Sir, what is your relationship with madam?”
“This is a family hotel, Sir”
“This is corporate property, Sir”
“Sir, you are only residents of foreign countries, but you aren’t foreigners”
“Sir, why don’t you book two single rooms”
I would get irate and try to bite off one of the receptionist’s heads, only on principle of course, not because the sex would have been worth it. I know it wouldn’t be, especially if I add a non-zero risk-weight to getting a UTI. Honeymoon cystitis, the gynaecs distastefully call it. Pfft.
Next time I date in India, I should remember to call Stay uncle instead of listening to that song again. I have to say Blaze uncle’s marketing mails are strangely endearing.
Great, now I can hear my flatmate having one of those sorry day-report calls with his long-distance girlfriend, except that he is actually laughing about something. What could possibly be funny during exams?
My toes are sweating but its too cold to stick them out of the comforter. A matching model is what I had to solve in yesterdays exam, a model in which women had more bargaining power than men, as it turned out. A little examination tokenism by the three white men who take our development econ class.
Maybe I should read something. The happiness of other people does feel illicit to me now, let me read that. No no no, I cannot add homesickness to the equationsickness. I’ll go for a walk instead. Nothing can be more calming than indulging myself in my solitude and whistling the theme track of Thoovanathumbikal.