I can clearly remember every house that I have ever lived in. From my grandmother’s house with its huge veranda that has now been demolished to make way for modern apartment blocks to the family home at Naihati that I have never visited after my paternal grandmother’s funeral-every nook and corner of the houses from my past is ingrained in my memory. I clearly remember my parents’ two-bedroom apartment in Barrackpore with its serpentine staircase that I used to scurry down every morning at 8 am in my freshly pressed school uniform.
I remember the long driveway in front of the hostel I stayed in back in my first year at college. It was a two-storied building originally intended to house faculty and staff. But owing to the increasing intake of students, the college authorities had converted it into a student dormitory by introducing multiple beds, tables and chairs. I remember vividly the long corridors of my final year hostel. I remember how the doors of the rooms got converted into a canvas for writing congratulatory messages every time a batchmate landed a lucrative job offer. I remember the windchime I had placed right by my window to catch the breeze that blew in from the cracks in its glass panes. A friend had brought me the windchime as a souvenir from her summer trip to the Moroccan Desert.
I also remember the girl who used to stay in the room right next to me. Today, she is in a different country and has a baby.
I remember the first apartment I had rented with my own money. In fact, that apartment is just a couple of buildings down the road where I live today. If I lean out of my balcony, I can make out its ochre yellow walls that are drenched in the aftermath of a brief afternoon shower. I remember the day we moved out from the house. We had hired a truck to move second-hand furniture that we bought online from another chap in the city who was moving out. The day we were shifting our stuff into our new apartment, it had been raining as well.
These are my last two weeks here. I will soon be boarding a flight to fly back home for a brief hiatus before I fly further west in search of a newer life and greener pastures. But I will never forget the whims and quirks of this little house where I finally felt like an adult. I will never forget the exact pattern in which you have to turn the kitchen tap’s knob so that it does not leak, the exact force with which you have to turn on the tap water so that the sink does not clog, the exact number of minutes you require to run to the bus stand, the exact spot at the bottom of the stairs where the water puddles form after a brief shower. I will always remember the tree that showers a fresh bounty of flowers on my balcony every autumn morning, the walls that are stuffed with trinkets I have brought down from our weekend trips to exotic locales, the roommate who insists I drink a hot cup of green tea after every meal to combat my ever stubborn belly fat.
They say that home is where the heart is. But my heart has uprooted itself and set sail. It has left behind the familiar windchime that jingles in the breeze blowing in through cracks in a glass window.
Written in response to daily prompt– Glass.
Photograph: Kristin Vogt