Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Grey Day - Part 2

You can read the first part HERE

“Will we survive?” Lisa asked.
“We have to. You hugged the fridge after saving me. We have to.” Simi said stoically.
“You must be hungry. Have the tomatoes.”
Simi looked at the dusty red objects – unwashed and dirty but they looked scrumptious. Five, barely red but mouthwatering tomatoes surrounded by a dry pond of spilt milk, stale curry and some sauces. She picked up two and moved gingerly towards Lisa. But the floor beneath Lisa started to fall or that is how it seemed. Realizing the unstable trait of the barely holding floor she tossed a tomato at Lisa and slumped back in her corner. The girls enjoyed their meal but did not dare to drink water despite being parched.
The two girls kept staring at the sepia and grey dilapidated space that was once a room and talking in monologues for hours. The stuffiness of the corner had escalated. The paucity of air had been served with a dash of dust. Without a watch it was difficult for them to tell the time but they were sure night was going to make them wait for long. Simi must have dozed off due to boredom, because her thought train was not stuck at the last words with her mom anymore, but on how cold were January nights in Gujarat. The sun had surely set as it was cold again, ruthlessly cold.
“Imagine us clad in woolen sweaters and having hot masala chai at Dhir Bhai’s Tapri (shop)”. Lisa said after she saw Simi shivering with cold.
“Like imagination always helps!” Simi’s irritation had reached the peak of self-pity. “Would Dhir Bhai have survived this? His shop is a small shanty. If our building is all dust, his shop would be lost underground right?”
“We will figure out after we are rescued.” Lisa said with a feeble smile.
“How are you doing this? How did you not sleep? How are you still hopeful? It is night and no rescue has come. I didn’t even hear a sound from our own building after the quake; a building of fourteen families and twenty Paying Guests!” Simi asked.
“You did have some conversation with your mother before all this. I haven’t talked to mine since day before yesterday.” Lisa said. “And I can’t sleep because I fear we would miss the rescuers when they come. If we miss them, they won’t hear us, they won’t be careful and all this would be for nothing.”
Simi could see the determination behind Lisa’s pain. Most people in her situation would be withering with pain, screaming and sobbing. But Lisa was not most people, she had never been one. When Simi had met Lisa, she was a rebellious girl, hot headed and ‘the guy band’ chick, but she was also the most genuine person Simi had found in the campus, most eligible for being her roommate. Lisa never spoke with her father, Simi never asked why but she did regularly call up her mother though those calls always ended abruptly. She had heard Lisa shout on phone a couple of days back and since then Lisa had abandoned that machine.
She had to live. They had to survive.
The small talk with Lisa had restarted Simi’s memory quest for the last thing her mother had said.
The cold wasn’t helping Simi’s situation anymore. Night grew and so did the chill. They were trapped in rubble, engrossed in darkness, under a blanket of dust and dirt, then how had the sultry corner become a chilling one? Simi wondered, diverting herself from her thoughts again. She was desperate now. She had to pee, but was too embarrassed. She had quenched her thirst by just staring at the broken fridge door but still as nature has its way of everything; it had made her a puppet too. First the quake, then the unwashed tomatoes now this, for Simi the grey day was getting weird and never ending. She had OCD, mainly related to cleanliness but now she had two ways for going crazy. She looked at Lisa, whose chin was resting on her folded arm, face muddy with cement, dust and blood, and eyes were blankly gazing at the never ending darkness.
“How are you holding?” Simi went crimson. She knew she had. But was relieved Lisa could not see her flushed face.
“Didn’t I tell you some hours back?” Lisa asked, baffled.
“Not that holding. I..I want to pee.”
Lisa laughed and refused to stop till the pain got unbearable again.
“I already did it. Didn’t tell you because it was weird. But guess when you are confined in a cage of walls, or what were walls, you don’t really have any option.”

“Hmm, I will do when I can now” Simi chose to shut up for a while, planning on the ‘when’ part. When she finally let go of all her inhibitions, Lisa and Simi gobbled up the remaining tomatoes and water from the only fridge door bottle.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Grey Day - Part 1

January 26th, 2001

Day and night meant nothing to Simi anymore – it was all grey, charcoal grey. She had lost track of time but knew hours had passed and still nothing had changed. Lisa was lying in front of her, not sleeping, not unconscious either, but barely moving. The refrigerator was still on Lisa’s legs and on a part of her back. The merciful machine had spilt milk on the ground - that was now uneven and broken, some tomatoes too - five of which were at less than an arm’s distance from where Simi sat, and rest had found solace in the newly built cracks of the floor. The fridge door was detached from the main body, and had a half filled bottle of water and a broken jar of jam. Eggs were broken and were on the floor. The door was peacefully warming up right next to Lisa. Everything else was lost in the dusty, bricked and cemented background.
A million hours ago, or so it seemed to Simi, Simi was fighting with her mom. She thought about her decision that had led her to this situation. Simi had moved to Ahmedabad for her MBA about a year back. Terrified by the chronicles of the IIM A hostels, Lisa and she had chosen a cozy flat for two years. Simi’s mother had called today to wake them up early morning. Hailing from a Punjabi army family, sleeping past sunrise on 26th January was a criminal offense according to Simi’s mother, and she had made sure the two sleepyheads were up on time. It was around 8:40 A.M. when her mother had called again to howl at her for not going to the City Republic Day Parade and that was when the fight had started. Simi tried very hard to remember the last words her mother had said before the call ended abruptly but all she could remember was the rumbling of the concrete land that had drowned those words.
She had lost her balance, had noticed Lisa scream, “The corner now!” and then was being dragged towards the corner - laterally opposite to the fridge and a wall which never held any significance for her. By the time she could voice out her realization to her mother, the cordless in her hand had no tone. Lisa paced towards the fridge to get something – a bottle of water perhaps, and the room was split into 2 already - the other part crumbling under the pressure of the cement sarsens falling from the floors above. The rumbling discordance was then pierced by Lisa’s painful scream. The kitchen cabinet had fallen, which she had managed to dodge with a small cut on her head and was checking something on the ground with a bottle of water in her hand. But the thoughtless Fridge could not hold its ground and fell on her, and with that she reached Simi’s corner, sliding. Simi completely oblivious to the fact that the ground where she was now sitting had tilted and random things in the room where trying to reach her wall which was half its original size now. The door of the open, sliding fridge hit the walls during its short descent and slowed down the refrigerator’s ride but Lisa had lost her bottle, which vanished where some part of the wall used to stand. And it was all silent after that.
“Are you okay?” was what broke Simi’s perplexed trance. She looked at Lisa, who was pinned under the fridge and boulders of someone’s ceiling and wall; she was not sure any more about whose walls had stopped the fridge half way. Lisa had bruises on her arms, a deep cut on her head and she was asking if Simi was alright; it was amusing to Simi.
“You are bleeding.” Lisa said, painfully.
“So are you” Simi replied, and the girls started giggling. Not happy chuckles, but that is all they could think of doing – chuckle.
“Simi, stop. I can’t laugh anymore. It hurts” Lisa said, pain clearly ringing in her voice.
Simi acknowledged Lisa’s request and embraced silence once again. She realized the crumbling building had not spared her completely, as she thought a couple of minutes back.  She could feel her damp hair, although it was not perspiration but blood. Her arms and face were also etched by the falling rubble. But all she could wonder about was how one minute of the earthquake had destroyed their house of one year, beyond recognition.
The one minute was the only time she remembered now. Hours had gone by, her stomach was rumbling, but the terror of the minute still gripped Simi and Lisa’s condition had numbed her completely.