Fresh from the train ride, I checked into my home for the next week or so. A dark rundown guesthouse. For want of better facilities, this was going to be it. Our hoard was not very enthusiastic, and voices of dissent could be heard. There were no powers to hold them down yet they got lost in their own echoes, everyone was too tired to care.
I did, I hated this place.
I was shown my room, a tiny room with a big bathroom, and roughly half the size of the room itself. The room had an iron grille door, covered with a steel mesh to keep the insects outside; it was also an open window to my world. There was supposed to be a curtain to provide me a little more privacy but it had probably lost in a scuffle to a previous occupant.
The walls were windowless, and of an even, dirty, yellow colour. They had been painted with the wonderful material we Indians call “Choona” that leaves its mark on your clothes, hands, faces, souls…
Some marks are easier to erase than others.
The bathroom too had a public access view hole, a large window which opened up into a service alley between the hotel building and a run down, brick building behind it. The building looked like it was abandoned mid construction, the real estate bust of our times. Developers borrowed money to build buildings that were now worth less than 1/5th of the land they were built on, there was no way to recoup money and no point spending more to build more.
There they lay then, memoirs to capitalist greed.
My bed was a red coloured abomination, covered with a think, hard mattress which could not redder if it tried. I imagined the room as some sort of honeymoon retreat, ugh….
I was meant to sleep here tonight.
Or maybe this was a love motel like situation…
I think I needed a shower; I did not want to discover the bathroom yet. But, I needed to get away from this room, only for a little while.
“I hope they have another room, like I requested them” I hoped, imagining the manager handing me the keys to a room right out of my home for 6 months, the Birmingham Hyatt or the Umaid Bhavan. Fuck, if I was going to imagine this, I want the sports suite in the frikking Bellagio!
Reality is a bitch.
Green, the filling up my bucket in the bathroom was green. A light, particle infused green.
Dirty bucket, maybe, I thought. Maybe the previous occupant was playing holi, which must have been awful time back. There are times, when your city demeanour, your disgust, your repulsion is all replaced by fatigue.
All I wanted to do was to take a shower in this dirty bathroom and then go to sleep on the dirty bed, in my dirty room. In this dirty city. I could already hear the voices of my friends, loud dirty cackles of rich, spoiled kids, laughing along as they discussed their dirty deeds. Maybe I could join then, maybe they had cleaner rooms.
I had enough; I needed to take a bath now that I was standing naked in my bathroom with the open window, with the door that would not close properly in the room with the steel grille door.
This was like a voluntary prison, pay to stay. Pay to leave.
I threw the water in the buckets at the walls, in disgust. They changed colour not just the way choona walls do when wet; they changed from their drab yellow to reds and greens in a pattern in the top corner of the bathroom where I had aimed the dirty water.
Curiosity killed the cat they say, I filled in more buckets and doused the walls with water, revealing a spectacular pattern on all the four walls and the roof.
Spectacular fucking shit
A sun drawn in the thickest yellow brush, tears pouring out of its eye. Random numbers and messages scrawled on all the other walls, this wasn’t fun anymore. The bathroom looked more like an Inca execution pedestal than the place to cleanse yourself…
I could still hear the bodiless laughter of my friends, in their rooms. Except my voice was choked, I could neither cry for help or laugh at what I had just discovered, if only I knew…
(this is the extract of a half forgotten dream,, 19th February 2011)