When I came back home today the sunlight was just fading. As I turned the key and opened the door to our apartment I could see the faint light through the curtains that cover the French windows in our living room. I switched on a light as soon as I entered though, out of habit, immediately shutting out any trace of the remaining daylight. I put the keys on the foyer along with the cards and some loose change. I pulled out the cell phone from my bag and plugged it in for charging. The battery had long died. I walked across the hall, to open the doors of the three rooms one by one. First the bedroom. I peeked in out of habit but did not enter. Then the study where I switched on a solitary dim light. And then the guest room. Where we have been sleeping for a few weeks now because that is the only room where the air conditioning works and we have been too busy to get the others repaired.
I didn’t take the clothes off the clothes hanger today. I didn’t feel an urgent need to fold them and put them away immediately. I noticed that we were out of drinking water. But I was not irked by the fact that it should have been ordered yesterday. I picked up the phone and dialed the number for the convenience store. They didn’t pick up the first time. I calmly dialed again. I had already decided that I’ll take out the ice cubes from the freezer and let them melt so that I could pour the water into a bottle and use it. But they picked up. I placed my order and floated to the bedroom.
The house, our house, was empty. Normally I resented it. Bitterly. I would spoil my mood thinking how I had no one to come back to at the end of the day. I would always remind myself how lonely I was.
But strangely today I had looked forward to being alone. Not lonely but being on my own.
I took a long hot shower using a bath gel that I had bought months before but never used. I dried myself and stood in front of the bathroom mirror scrubbing my face. I applied a face pack after almost a year. I rinsed it away when it dried and applied cream that promised to keep my skin hydrated through the night. A cream, that S brought me last year when she visited from the States. And I took it out of the box today. I put on my nightclothes and toyed with the idea of giving myself a pedicure. Too much work, I thought. I lit an incense stick. The smell of sandalwood filling the whole house instantly.
For dinner I would mash boiled potatoes with my hand and mix it with some salt and mustard oil. There will be a boiled egg. I’ll sit on the floor of the living room eating the egg and potatoes with rice. I will add generous amounts of ghee to the rice and bite small bits off a green chilly while I devour my meal.
When I am in bed later tonight night, I’ll read for as long as I want. I might forget to switch off the light. I might also lie in the center of the bed and use all the four pillows for my comfort.
All this sounds rather strange to myself. Really. As I sit in the living room, typing this on my laptop and listening to the drone of the air conditioning, I realize how much I had missed being by myself. How much I had missed doing exactly what I felt like doing. Without rush, without thinking.
It is odd, one might think. But it is today after eight hours of work, three hours of commute, the prospect of eating rice with generous amounts of ghee, the scent of sandalwood and the new bath gel that I feel close to myself again.
Yes, I admit that it sounds unreal. But I seem to have muchly missed my time alone.