Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A bed of her own



Angeline Mary came into my life quite early. I wouldn't say 'life'. Threshold of it. Like in class photos. The girl who helped during school dramas to plaster yourself with cheap makeup lifted mostlty from older sister's make up kits.

She had no special friend. Like one of my friends said- Angeline Mary was everyone's friend and yet nobody’s.

Frankly, we never could believe anyone had so sweet a disposition all the time. Swapnil often would come to find her pencils sharpened when she'd kept them blunt to draw caricatures of our teachers. It was a tough task to stop Swapnil from what she threatened 'beating up' Angeline, but we were successful nevertheless.

So when she joined the same college as I, it was but natural that we huddled together on the first day while being scrutinized by fearsome seniors.

When we were allotted cots, it was but natural Angeline gave up her cot when they discovered that they were short of one. It didn't matter to whom her cot went. All that mattered to Angeline was that the shine on her halo didn't diminish.

4 years of Angeline again seemed bad. Especially when we were at a new place where familiarity meant best of friends.

I was the unlucky one to whom she 'gave away' her cot. This happened only because of my prolonged goodbye to mother whom I kept saying goodbye to, long after she was gone. Standing by the iron gates of the hostel, looking at an empty road with a few stray dogs and a car that stays only in front of your eyes; I was late on my first day.

That made a misplaced sense of guilt on my already guilt laden shoulders. First, I pretended to ignore her walking around with bed sheets and pillow in hand by staring studiously away. Or sometimes right through her.

But after most of the lights were turned off, I'd walk across rows of sleeping girls, looking for the lump that was Angeline. I always found her in borrowed beds. Maybe she was dreaming borrowed dreams...

Though she was later allotted a cot of her own, I'd see her walk around looking for an empty cot everyday.

For someone I thought wasn't worth thinking about, I thought a lot about Angeline. I'd see her wash her face everyday, squeezing the honey brown gel from plastic tubes of Pears. The smell of which would linger in the washed air saying, "Angeline was here".

She's wash her face every twenty minutes or so. The smell of Pears was forever.

Once over yet another late night talk, I remember someone sniffing the air and saying, "Ssshhh... Angeline is here". We'd discovered one of the sleeping forms in the room to be Angeline's, her freshly washed face making almost a glow.

In her world, in which hardly anything belonged to her, to even call her own- even a bed of her own didn't make much sense I guess.

It was the weekend when almost everybody went home. I hadn't.

When Angeline Mary walked that night with bed sheets in hand and her pillow, there was an extra bounce to her step. It was her day of choice. Not so many beds were to be chosen from everyday.

She chose the empty one near mine. I pretended to read my book… pretended to be thinking great thoughts…I was concentrating so much on pretending, that I actually started on hearing her voice.

I am not sure this happened. But it did. We talked. About school. Past ghosts of teachers. The skeleton in the biology lab which we were convinced belonged to Sr. Regina who went missing. Hangman's copse and the story that came down with it from generations of seniors. Friends. Acquaintances. Incidents. Angeline Mary knew every play I'd enacted in school. Every character that I'd exaggerated, getting into skins that weren't mine. Every story I'd recounted to open mouthed girls, drawing them closer with fabrics of fiction.

She'd held her sanity by belonging to what was dutifully others'. And she'd held it longer by not sharing her secret. She was part of a gang that excluded her. She heard words not directed at her. She played roles not given to her. And she never shared credit that wouldn't have been hers.

That night was perhaps Angeline's. And mine. Ours. To share but with ourselves.

Tomorrow was another day. We had our separate worlds. She would never be welcome in mine. And I could never belong in her borrowed world.

We didn't sleep that night. Just to share it a little longer.

I have it on my lost autograph book, that she dreamt the best dreams while lying on my bed.

27 Comments:

Blogger Dhanush said...

Hmm... Touching..
I can really visualise Angeline here, for I have seen a few ppl of that genre.

You are back to your very best(apart from being wildly romantic ;) ).

4:11 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Dhanush: He he! A critisism and a compliment huh? Kollam! :)

5:52 AM  
Blogger Dhanush said...

Diplomatic Alle ;) - But this one was realy a nice one

6:11 AM  
Blogger aks said...

hey love....cant help but have fallen in love with angeline....maybe your literary skills enhanced her character to such a level.....but still I have fLLEN FOE HER.. i know one odd people like her...have an arbid admiration for them....maybe their unseen innocence is what i love.... nice post......

9:44 AM  
Blogger Admirable Existence said...

Too good a post. Was reminded of my school hostel days.
When you said that Angeline walked with her pillows, i visualised her walking in my hostel dormitory. When you said she washed her face with 'pears', i visualised her doing the same at my hostel wash basin.
Also remembered those days when i was left alone in the hostel during weekends.
And also those days when i used to stand at the hostel gate, waving bye to Mom, with tears rolling down my eyes.
Thanks for the post.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Crizzie Criz! said...

poornima,
i can safely say that yours is one of the best blogs i have stumbled upon in a long time. You write just the way i like and try to do, you are descriptive.
Some people have told me that i tend to describe too much, but thats me and thats the way i like it.
I believe saying that i have added you to my favourite list is self explanatory. You write powerful stuff and some of your sentence formations are really admirable.

You just brought back a lot of memories that i have about hostel days. You may have just inspired me to write on them too. good work.
If you happen to find time, do visit my blog. I have this feeling that we are going to like each others writing and are going to be friends. Hope to see ya in there soon. take care,

godspeed

A.J

2:23 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Dhanush: Next Ambassador vellom aano?

Aks: There you go again, falling for yet another girl! ;)

Admirable existence: Well, it feels good to know many did the same I did. That forlorn look at the gate! Lol!

A.J: Go ahead and write. We'll read! :)

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kaavya and Poorni birds of the same feather, plagiarism is thier middle name.

2:04 AM  
Blogger aks said...

hey love.... cant seem to help falling for all those pretty ones out there..but will love u always

2:09 AM  
Blogger Dhanush said...

No I don't drive cars, so I wont go for Ambassador. I drive a Bike :-)

2:14 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Anon: Wanna borrow ours? Since you seem to be lacking one!

Aks: Flatterer!

Dhanush: Lol!

3:26 AM  
Anonymous one among the crowd said...

hi poornima,

angeline, hmmm. there is one small one within you. but then there is one such in some of many of those sweet people. pears is just an accompaniment adding on to the likes and dislikes.

looking out.

5:14 AM  
Blogger aks said...

flatter...who me?....hehehe...hey love..i posted a new one...

5:30 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

OAC: I love Pears soap! :)

Aks: Will read.

9:56 PM  
Blogger clash said...

Some live a borrowed dream. Some, rarley any. But almost all becomes a part of the "insignificant" history,rarley someone sneaks out of its claws!
:)-

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat post...i kinda felt bad for AM though I find it hard ... very very hard to believe ppl like her exsist.
peace
g
http://g-thisisme.blogspirit.com

11:21 PM  
Blogger REVerenD said...

ahh!! another classic from the lady of lit!!!

Its amazing how u convert normal everyday happenstances into delectable spellbinding and throat lumping pieces of work...truly gifted with the pen you are me gal

4:18 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Clash: Dream on.

Girish: Unfortunately they do.

Reverend: He he! Lady of lit! Lol! But seriously, thank you!

4:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice PVij...
pleasant read!

10:39 PM  
Blogger phatichar said...

*Speechless*

Brilliant.. :)

(BTW, it's kinda strange, but I too posted something on similar lines today)

2:40 AM  
Blogger Shinu Mathew said...

She adreaming borrowed dreams was just too goog. With just that, you managed to convey the character of angeline. nice work.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Sharat: He he!

Sri: Read it! Not similar, but yeah- kinda! :)

Shinu: Thank you!

4:06 AM  
Blogger raka said...

Why was that haunting?
Did u mean it to be? Or do I have a lingering phobia from a 13yr hostel life?

I will be glad if the borrowing Angeline does not steal my dreams, and the helping Angeline does not offer her nightmares.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Raka: 13 yrs of hostel??????? *Shudder*

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one P V. I like the way you write, the frequent full stops.

Did you (as per the story) not want to understand her

11:03 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Anon: Understanding is one thing. Going forward and acting based on what you understand is another altogether!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:39 AM  

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