“Will you bother to finish up with your beauty bath already, Sneha di?” I banged on the fragile bathroom door, “I have an exam in twenty minutes.”
“I’ll take 5 more minutes, Naina. Deal. With. It.” Called out the princess from the magical land that was the bathroom. Well, it was a magical land to her since she spent so much bloody time in it. My sister was six years older than I was and the only thing that got in the way of us getting along. She was 6 years older and hence smarter. She was six years older and hence she knew better. She was 6 years older and so she had better clothes. Well, the last one wasn’t because she was 6 years older, it was because she studied fashion and was assisting a well-known fashion designer, Vikram Bhatt. But she could let me borrow her clothes, couldn’t she? But no she wouldn’t, what if I got a stain on them? What I tore them? What if I ruined them?
“No you won’t. You have been there for the past half an hour doing God knows what. Get out right now!”
“It’s called washing yourself. Which you clearly don’t.”
“Maybe I don’t need to wash myself so thoroughly because I'm not as filthy as you are.”
“Be nice to me, Naina or you’re not getting to wash yourself even a little bit.” That bitch sounded amused.
You want to play dirty? Fine, dirty is what you will get. “Get out right now, Sneha di,” I said as threateningly as I could, “or else I’ll tell Dad what time you walked in last Saturday—or should I say Sunday? It was past midnight, after all—and in what state.” I opened the door to a very drunk Sneha di last Saturday at four in the morning. I made her change her clothes and put her to bed. Fortunately, she didn’t puke this time.
There was silence for a moment and then I heard the water being turned off and mild shuffling. The door was wrenched open and I met the dark brown eyes of my now furious sister. She had a yellow Turkish towel tucked under her arms which my mom worked extra hard to keep it smelling nice and soft and she was dripping water on the mat outside the bathroom. She didn’t look one bit scary and I would’ve gloated if I didn’t have to give an exam in the next hour that would decide my fate.
I pushed past her and closed the door behind me. By the time I came out of the bathroom, she had left. That bitch could’ve dropped me off to the station on her way to work.
“All the best, baby,” my mom said with a hug. She asked me to open my mouth to put a sweet in it— her equivalent to sweet curd.
I looked outside the window as I put my umbrella in my bag. It was pouring hard. “Christ, I’m going to be soaked in no time,” I muttered.
“Soaking? No need for soaking. New Surf Excel Matic has vibrating molecules that fights stains in the machine itself,” said my younger brother, Yash while munching on his toast. He had jam all over his mouth. He was four years younger than I was and has a penchant for quoting advertisements.
“Stop watching so much TV,” I said, ruffling his hair.
“All the best, di.”
“Thanks, Yash. Bye.”
My IELTs passed away in a blur. I was giving my IELTs because I wanted to go to London School of Economics for my Masters. That’s why this exam mattered so much to me. I wrote the answers that I knew first and then came back to the ones I wasn’t sure about in the end. All in all it wasn’t a bad exam but you could never be too sure until the results came out.
I left the exam room with a sigh, glad that I was finally done with it. It was raining cats and dogs when I left the building. I hadn’t noticed it because I was concentrating so much on my exams and now I had to travel all the way from Colaba to Santacruz. I opened my black umbrella with purple flowers on it and stepped out into the pouring rain. The wind whipped my hair with a ferocity and the rain hit me square in the face. The umbrella was of no use. I had barely stepped out and was already soaked.
I walked to the main road and tried to hail a cab to Churchgate Station to no avail. I didn’t know which bus to take having used the cab, nonetheless I walked to the bus station and asked a a tall man with thinning hair, “Which bus will go to Churchgate Station?”
His eyes went straight to my breasts. I followed his sight and saw that my T-shirt was completely soaked and was clinging to my wet body like second skin.
“Excuse me?” I asked and made sure that my voice betrayed my irritation. “Which bus will go to Churchgate Station?”
He rattled off a bus number, still staring at that particular part of my anatomy. I turned away from him and waited for my bus to come.
When my bus finally came, I couldn’t get on for the number of people competing to get in through the tiny doorway. I sighed and stood under the bus shelter to protect myself from the rain—not that it made even a slight difference. When my bus came the next time, I was prepared. I stood exactly where the bus stops, I pushed through the crowd and got on the bus. I didn’t get a place to sit but I did get to the station.
At the station I faced a similar crisis. I had to miss two trains before I had a chance to get on the third one and even there I barely had a chance to breath. I was sandwiched between a really fat woman whose oily hair was in my face and a girl my age who kept stomping my foot and apologizing profusely.
The compartment was wet and everyone was on the phone, either texting or trying to make calls. That’s when I realised that my phone was still switched off from the exam. I removed it from my bag and pressed the Power button. It wouldn’t switch.
As if the day couldn’t get any worse, the train stopped working when it reached Khar Road.
I checked my watch—which was waterproof—and saw that it was almost 7 30 pm. My exam got over at 3 pm. It had taken me more that 4 hours to make a journey that usually takes me half an hour to 45 minute.
The electricity was out because of the rains so I had to bang the door to get someone to open.
“Who is it?” Came a shrill voice from the other side.
“Its me, Sneha di,” I said irritatedly, “open up.”
The door opened and suddenly I was enveloped in a big hug. “Oh, thank God!”
“Can’t. Breath.” My voice was muffled.
“Where the hell have you been?” Sneha di pulled away from me and screeched. She shook me as she said each word.
“Trying to get home.”
“Where’s your fucking phone? Couldn’t you answer it?”
“It got wet,” I defended.
Sneha di suddenly sagged. “Oh, Naina. We were so worried. You have no idea. Why didn’t you at least make a call?”
“Well, I was trying to get home and I didn’t think you would…” I gazed around warily.
“What? That I would worry?”
I shrugged helplessly.
“I have been sick with worry, Naina. How could you think like that?”
“OK, OK,” I said, embarrassed with all this emotion, “Can I at least come in? I'm soaking.”
“So you really love me?” I joked as we all were having candlelight dinner on the dining table.
“Of course, you idiot.”
“So will you let me borrow your clothes?”
“What if you stain them?”
“Well, there is always Surf Excel Matic,” chimed in Yash, “The vibrating molecules can remove any stain and that too without soaking.”“See?” I asked Sneha di rhetorically, “there is a solution"
Note: This post is for the Surf Excel Matic Challenge.