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Asavari Bhattacharya

Abstract Others


Asavari Bhattacharya

Abstract Others

Places and Habits

Places and Habits

6 mins

I suppose now that I’m moving again, to another place, the nostalgia and relief are sure to follow. This is yet again another experience of moving on to some other place and the feelings are familiar, yet different.

I was born in this city on September 23rd, 1990. I was inducted into a prestigious school and I went straight for my studies, although mathematics felt like a mortal enemy to me. For fourteen years straight I was a good girl, a good student, a wonderful painter, and a wonderful singer. Everyone I knew told me what a nice little girl I was and I felt giddy with my goodness and my ability to draw adults into patting my head. The city was an unopened box of treasures.

I was admitted into another prestigious educational institution when I was eighteen. It was filled with adults who welcomed me with open arms and praises for the wonderful marks I had scored in my final year. I met people who were courteous and friendly and they too looked at me with warmth and familiarity.

I felt like the world was my oyster.

For three months, everything was perfect. I went to college early, took notes, studied, and worked hard. I could never get enough of roaming the halls, exchanging classes, exploring the halls, learning and learning and learning.

And then in the fourth month, I felt bored.

The classes were boring, the hallways were boring, and the work was boring. The words spoken by the professors felt as hollow and wafty as the clouds I gazed at during their lectures. It was a small cramped space and it seemed smaller and smaller with each passing day.

I suppose that is where it went down.

I always felt that I could do things later. And I did. The problem was that I hurried through like my life depended on it. And my work was horrible and below par. I failed and failed and failed. And part of this failure rubbed itself into my consciousness.

Even waking up in the morning gave me jitters. My mind was like a live wire, sensitive to looks and actions. My shoulders grew heavy with the weight of my cast-down head and shame-filled body. I gained twenty kilos in two years. The city was a friend for me to get lost in times of complete hopelessness.

I won’t bore you with the details of my career. I had the same attitude toward making a living. I was ashamed, so I somehow decided to live with shame. I quit jobs and I worked my way up the ladder again and again.

For nine years, my head was down and I lived in the shittiest places possible and I felt as miserable as possible.

When covid hit, I felt like moving out of my place to live in one that would be near a hospital. The pandemic made zero difference to my living conditions. I was working for another company at that time. I woke up at twelve p.m, ate lunch directly, sat down to work, ate chips and chocolates the whole time, read some dirty magazines, and fell asleep at three p.m. Rinse and repeat.

I really don’t know how my body put up with that lifestyle or how I came out unscathed.

A little cat came into my room one day.

Suddenly, I was waking up at three a.m to ill-timed mewls for attention, not going to sleep, changing the cigarette-stained curtains of my room, making meals four times a day, and playing with a living being no bigger than my hand. Even I was surprised at my lack of irritation and growing fondness for the little invader.

The sudden shift in my schedule didn’t sit well with my company, so they fired me. This was the first time I was fired, for I always left my jobs, so I felt a little hurt and resentful. But then I started looking online again. I had a job again.

This time I woke at six thirty and made myself a coffee. I spent thirty minutes exerting myself in the most uncomfortable positions possible, while the wily feline decided to nap at the exact place where I would be doing said exercises and cursing my life choices. The thirty minutes changed to forty, then an hour and a half. I ate four times a day. In a span of eighteen months, I lost fifteen kilos.

I learnt stuff and that helped me get better jobs. I separated my work from my home, so the jobs would get done easily.

My shoulders became lighter. I began to watch the sky and the birds and the flowers and the fruits. That green and yellow and red and brown leaves astonished me. Love revealed itself to me in the most unexpected of ways.

One day, the cat, well fed and sassy, decided to leave. That was the same day I got a job that would have me move to a place near the mountains and the sea.

I was stunned by the rudeness of life. Two different changes, that happened at the same damn time!! The wind was knocked out of me and I didn’t know what to do.

So for three days, I slept.

On the fourth day, I woke up at twelve and made myself a coffee. And then I spent the day eating chips and fried chicken. And immediately after that, I made myself vomit the contents of my stomach. After taking a bath and brushing my teeth, I fell asleep again.

I was euphoric the next morning.

Common sense trudged into me on the sixth day. I spent my days too busy to care about eating. I was either working or managing my affairs and belongings for the move. The sudden change made me lighter by five kilos. But I didn’t care.

On the last day, I woke up at seven and made myself the most delicious breakfast I had ever made. I drank coffee and I scrolled through google, trying to look at different places to watch a particular film. I found a nice-looking theatre. Then I went to that place and I ooohed and aaahed with the other people.

I came out of the theatre at four in the afternoon. I decided to walk through the city and of course, the sweat trickling down my forehead a mere fifteen minutes after that decision, immediately made me regret that.

But of course, I walked. The road I took was unpaved and dirty at times and suddenly smooth the other times. I saw parks and malls and old places. I saw rusty gates and overgrown hedges. The orange of my sky blushed a beautiful pink and slowly paled into a midnight blue. I thought of the kitten bowl I hadn’t packed nor had the heart to throw away.

I took a taxi because my feet ached. The driver didn’t talk more than needed so I lay back against the seat looking at the little lanes I had loved, the shadows of late evening, and the wide overhead bridges.

The old fear came back for a second. I was still thinking that I could fail horribly at this job, and end up begging on the streets. The old fear had never left, it was simply forgotten.

But then I looked out of the window and there it was, my city, blinking at me.

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