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An Ode to a Stranger

I had forgotten the rosy smell of cardigans and the hustle-bustle of raincoats and the sad sight of my friend's moist eyes after having dropped melted chocolate ice cream on the canteen floor, again. I have forgotten how to behave and learnt how to be. I am not sick of myself yet, but I've been yearning for a connection. The wholesome vision of her clumsily dropping cookie crumbs on the left page of the novel sitting open on her sloping thighs reminded me that I haven't seen another face in over seven and a half months.

Let's pull back a little.

This week started off well, with my sister earning a huge profit and my favourite singer dropping a surprise album. Life was going great for another rise in the rollercoaster. After a long string of days of feeling like the world around me no more existed, that there was only debris outside my humane walls, and that I was no more allowed on the roads other than those that led to my healing, I allowed myself on the outside roads. I may have been looking like a zombie, but at this point, I genuinely didn't care. Hurrying out the door and tripping on the way as my flip flops degenerated, I rushed to the rusted bench outside a closed tea stall and another shop to occupy the last spot available on it for half a person.

I passed many silhouettes on the way, but her unusual way of sitting in public caught my attention. I had never seen a person reading a book in a stranger situation. A long queue preceded her to stuff in all the groceries they could in this hideous creek of a general store. And she was, well, reading a book, sitting beside the small lock on the shutter of the tea stall. She was kind of calm in a circumstance that I would have been annoyed in.

I attended to her presence with the motive of hating how she lived. Her mother's constant eyeing her almost made me uncomfortable. She wore a visible black inner-wear with three-fourth sleeves which she clearly didn't want to, under a teal dress. She looked down pretty much the whole time, like escaping a scary vibe that the eyes around her presented. Picking on the frails on her dress, it seemed like she would almost tear them within seconds. Cardamom air surrounded her but her invisible cage seemed to only suffocate.

There was something I hated about her without knowing her, but on some level, I wanted to see how much more I related to her. She is everything I was before walking out the main door of my house this morning. She is everything I never want to be but probably will be when I enter the same door. She is the opposite of freedom, no matter the length of the dress she's wearing. She is the portrayal of the betraying notion of freedom.

- Rtr. Yashika Chaturvedi

Editor 2021-22,

The Rotaract Club of N.M. College

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