I water the plants set in the drawing room. A random gift from my brother, these plants. He doesn’t like such stuff. Boring, he says. But he gifted them to me anyway. He knows I hate to water the plants. Specially the ones that grow up too quickly. But still.
It’s not been long since I moved up here. In this happening part of the green city. I have to settle down. Get a job. Join a painting class. Earn a music degree. Take photography lessons. Work for an NGO. But for that, I have to earn loads of money. Till then, I am stuck in this humble apartment. Looking at cobwebs. Cleaning them. Admiring the brown bulb on the crimson wall. The bulb is an insignificant part of the room. It doesn’t work. Yet, there is something about it that makes me look at it. Every day. It’s filled with some dirty gas, I think. Gas that coils inside, day and night. Sometimes, it looks like the lighter shade of a chocolate ice-cream scoop. I want to touch it. But it’s up there, close to the ceiling. And I’m small.
My height is good. More than average. But if I can’t reach that ghostly bulb in this small apartment, then what good is this height? The electricity goes off. For the second time since morning. My right-hand thumb twitches. I want tea.
What time is it? Should be five-thirty. It looks like it is five-thirty. In the evening. You know, the time when it’s not sunny and it’s not yet dusk. The time when it seems proper to go out for a walk. Proper to make a generous size of chocolate cake topped with frostings and stuff. And eat it. All of it, by yourself. But what exactly is the time? There is no clock. But I search for it. There should be a clock. Every house has a clock. It’s customary.
I have a sudden urge to go pee. But I am already lying on my five-feet something bed. Good thing, I don’t have bedbugs here. Those redundant things. No sooner have I laughed at them, this tremendous nasty thing crawls from somewhere and covers me like a heavy blanket. It is so gentle that it seems rather motherly. It is so patronising, this laziness. So effortless. I don’t close my eyes.
My friend calls me on my phone. Strange. We never had a word since I left St. Anselms’ in the eighth grade. We are not even on each other’s Facebook lists. He tells me that I should learn Algebra. And he’s available should I want to learn from him. Some rockstar he was, back in those days. I wonder what he is like now. I ask if he still asks too many questions like he used to. He says he travels a lot and that his height is 6’1. I throw the phone at the ancient armchair and it rocks like my papa did when he was furious. The phone sits like a rajah on a red cushion. I giggle. Then I frown, as I lie back and fold my legs, like I always do. This bed is so small.
The clock says it’s seven. Evening time. But it still looks like five-thirty. The clock!
The customary clock. I have it. When did I buy it? This is foxy. The cobwebs are all over the place. I can almost taste them. Can cushions devour phones? The armchair sits awkwardly on the floor. A white ant trails on its hand. There is no phone on it.
Can things devour humans? I don’t feel myself anymore. But I can see.
This is befuddling. I don’t understand. Like the wooden chestnut horse that stares at me, nostrils flaring. Eyes so flared out, they run into his thick mane. Is he mocking me? Or is he trying to spook me? He is certainly not pleased. But more than that, what puzzles me is its presence. Who kept it there? It isn’t mine, this scaly horse. It wasn’t there yesterday. Grandpa would have been proud of this neat possession.
I think I really should get up and go pee. It’s 10:30 now. The clock seems to be all wet. Is it crying? I go to the bathroom. But the door is locked. I knock on it. It opens. There is no one inside. Enough. I stand there, flicking the switch on and off. Finally, I go inside. But I can’t pee. It seems inappropriate. Wrong. Untimely. I stare at the ceiling. Then at the geyser. Then at the shower. Everything is old here. I am getting old, too. But this sky. It still seems like five-thirty.
I get out of the bathroom. The walls look darker. The cobwebs disappear. The phone is on my pillow, ringing. The chestnut horse stands beside the white, oval clock. Still glaring and flaring. The brown bulb is just the same. Brown. I look back at the bathroom. More than need to, I want to pee.
I lean by the cupboard and play with its handle. Silver. Cold. Solid. I want to eat it. I want it on the tip of my tongue. Like a canvas needs a paintbrush on its chest. I giggle.
My nails are long. Like they are old, too. Archaic. I scratch them on my chin. It feels good. It feels benevolent. It feels home. But it isn’t me. These nimble fingers. My hands are still on the handle, caressing. The fingers slowly hover to my eyes. I try to touch them. But they are just liquid.
I need to wake up.