Of late, Alisha had become quite busy and wasn’t getting as much time to spend with me as she used to before. Mallika and Kavya said they had joined some dance classes, and George had to rush back home every day for his basketball coaching. These are the people I hang out with in college. And now with none of them free anymore, I was getting bored to death. I was also mighty pissed with them for leaving me alone and disappearing all at the same time.
That’s when I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try and make friends with others in class. They seemed to like me, but did not persist much in conversation. I was beginning to feel loneliness tightening its grip upon me day by day. That’s when, out of the blue, I bumped into Mary from school one fine day. She had been one of my closest pals, but living at two ends of the city had afforded us fewer opportunities of meeting in these past three years. Now as we saw each other unexpectedly across the opposite ends of the road, we ran towards each other with a prolonged and boisterously unending “Hiiiiiiii!!!!!” But the moment we came into each other’s arms’ length, to enter into a hug, her genuine and blissful greeting suddenly cut short, the smile and cheerfulness completely wiped off from her face, and her mouth shut tight. The hug did happen naturally, but something seemed to have dulled her immediately. The unexpected meeting, which should have lasted at least a half hour, as it used to earlier whenever such surprise encounters between us occurred, was cut short to a matter of few minutes this time. I was really puzzled as to what abrupt transformation had appeared for such a close friend of mine to behave in such an unnatural manner.
The days that followed plunged me into an abyss of forlorn dispiritedness. I felt everybody abandoning me, and little interested in talking to me. Even the landlady Gabriella aunty who chatted hours with me seemed to have become busy like everyone else. I became increasingly despondent. Nobody wanted to talk to me anymore or hangout with me. Why God, what had I done?? I lost sleep thinking over my actions for the past several weeks, even months, and the year gone by. Hours passed into days of introspection and self-questioning. Existential questions began to grow its ugly and dangerous roots inside me. I lost all interest in everything. Stopped talking and meeting others. Don’t really remember when I lost my appetite, was it when I started developing distaste, or did the distastefulness come into my mouth later. My mouth had become so dry by not talking, that the saliva had started thickening when I woke up in the morning. Now my mouth used to open only to release the innumerable burps that kept emanating from me throughout the day.
Finally the holidays arrived and I packed my bags for home. I had been waiting for the vacation so I could just get away from this hell-hole of despair. I found elation overcoming me as I neared home. Slowly the gloomy thoughts were draining away and joyful expectations were clouding my mind. Finally I rang the bell and waited in uncontrollable jubilation. A click sounded and I saw mom’s beaming face arising like the sun from behind the door. “Maaaaaaaa!!!” My delighted call was arrested in its trail, as my mother took a doubleback, eyes squirming and face contorted. The only match to such a dramatic reaction was my own response of popping eyes and stunned face. I wondered what blaze had I brought that threw mom back in such a histrionic fashion. The next sight of my welcome was mom clutching her nose and giving a sheepish smile.
Later that evening, as I reclined in that comfortable chair, I recalled the horrors of the weeks gone by. The turning of faces, the stopping short of smiles, the aborted meetings, the distastefulness of mouth and life. Just when I had started doubting myself, Dentist uncle saved my life.