A Lane by the Window | Koninika Misra

It is raining outside. It's funny how I always somehow end up writing about rains. Does it always rain when I sit down to write or do I only sit down to write when it rains? I'll never know. I have always loved rains, always found them romantic. They say it is overrated. I think they might have missed something. The rain in Kolkata has a sound. Does rain in different places have different sounds? Do they make any sound at all? Everywhere? Again I'll never know. I have only known rains in Kolkata. And it is beautiful. Beautiful even in the traffic jams, the water logging, the mud and the dirt it brings. Then again maybe you have to be privileged to love the rains and everything that it brings along.

It is raining quite heavily. It stops for a while and then starts again. The sky is not all dark. A part of it has no clouds. So even though it is raining there is sunlight. Ma used to say that in such a weather foxes and dogs get married. It is an old Bengali saying. There is a slight breeze and a strong smell of rains. The lane by the window is completely empty. Not completely, the trees are still there and also the houses. Would they still stand there, getting drenched in the rains if they had a choice? Would I so so long to go out in the rains if it was not forbidden, if it was not a moment so rare that it came only twice in my lifetime? Once again, I'll never know.

The lane by the window is my only link to the outer world. That's the only part of the window that doesn't overlook grey walls, the only part of the window I keep open. The rest of the windows are closed and covered by shiny red curtains. Shiny red curtains that hide dull grey walls. I hate them both. Apart from red the only two colours in the room are white and brown. I somehow have grown to love white. Despite it never giving me any reason not to, I can't hate white. The bed that I spend my entire day, my entire night and will probably spend my entire life in is a very old bed. The wood is rotten and the bed is broken beyond repair. They wanted to build me a new one. I refused. They first laughed and then forgot. I have never been attached to anything in my life apart from this bed, and memories. From the day we first met till today we've never been seperated, we won't be seperated in this life.

The only other things in the room is a wooden cupboard and a large wooden mirror. The cupboard contains all the things that I've ever owned in my lifetime. On the night in September when they sealed my fate forever and I turned away locking the door I had decided to throw everything away. Nothing in the world belonged to me, only me, nothing over which I had my complete right, except myself. But then I was very scared. What if I ever needed them very very much, what if a lifetime of locked doors and closed windows finally killed me? I couldn't go to them begging for anything. That I knew I couldn't. And so all my rage, all my pride lost again that day, lost again to a sudden rush of fear. I don't like the cupboard or the things that it keeps. But on afternoons and nights when my life and it's futility scares me so much that I don't understand what to do with it, I open the cupboard. When I open the cupboard I'm no longer myself because in knowledge, in truth I can never open it. When I open the cupboard I am a queen in a faraway land, I'm the actress desired by a nation, I'm a woman waiting to meet her lover. When I open the cupboard I wear red, when I open the cupboard I look into the mirror. I have never ever gone near the mirror. I stand and look at it from afar, holding the corner of my bed. What you don't know doesn't hurt you. If I ever go near, if I ever look closely, there will be no denying the truth. The truth that I fear. So I stand at a distance from where only the silhouette can be seen. And I imagine, I imagine the most beautiful eyes, the most beautiful mouth and the most beautiful face. And in this belief there's happiness, happiness for a tiny moment in the long tiring journey to the end.

There are also three doors in the room, three large doors. Two of them, passages to a different world. They have locked these doors from outside and I've locked them from inside. The people from both the worlds do not wish to meet, the desire has long been killed. One of them has been permanently sealed, with rust and abandon. The other opens three times a day to bring in food. Three times from outside, from inside it depends. The third door leads to the bathroom. Apart from the bed near the open window this is my most favourite place in the house, the house with two rooms. The bathroom only has four walls. But it also has a round sky at the top of a wall, sometimes blue, sometimes grey and sometimes black. It is here that I feel most safe, most at peace, nobody can see me here, nobody can hear. It is here that all my plays are enacted, here that all my stories are lived.

The rains have not yet stopped. The lane by the window is now covered in knee-deep water. A little boy is returning with his father, I think he lives in this house. He seems so happy in the rain. What would I have not given to go back to the time, the one time I was allowed to play in the rain. The memory is still so so fresh. It was Putul Di's marriage, in our ancestral home. Just two days before the marriage it began to rain. The pandals broke, the decorations got spoiled, all preparations came to a standstill. Everyone was so worried, what if the rains continued even on the day of the wedding, what if people couldn't come. I just sat on the 'dalan' and watched the rains. I had never seen something so beautiful and I didn't want the rains to stop. I begged everyone I met to let me go down in the rains, I wouldn't stay for more than five minutes I said. Everyone was annoyed and by the second day they learnt to simply ignore me. I didn't ask anyone anymore, I just sat there forcing myself to not cry, no matter what. And then Ma called me. "Go near the backgate, behind Boro Jethu's house. No one will go there, everyone's busy now. Go and come back fast. And listen don't tell anybody. Come back fast but." The next few minutes would go on to become the best memory of my life. Few minutes, could be a few seconds also, could be a few hours even. Those few minutes would also give rise to a painful longing that would never go away in a lifetime. The longing that even bound by iron grills refuses to leave.

The rains have decided to not stop today. The door has been opened from outside, the third time. But it won't be opened from inside today. I put my face outside the window. The window carved on the dull grey wall has been opened. The window is similar to mine. Someone behind the window plays the 'setar'. I rest my head on the window sill wet with drops of rain.

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