Updated: Jul 4, 2020
'Wear this one. It is nice and look, exactly your size.'
I replied angrily, 'but why? I have already kept this set aside for today.'
It was our first month in college, Sonam and I were bubbling with excitement for the Freshers' party. Well, to be honest Sonam was bubbling and I was panicking.
My roommate and soon to be my closest friend, wanted me to wear one of her dresses. She had spent an hour hunting, to find one that was exactly my size. I couldn't understand the reason for this hustle when I already had my own. She kept pestering me, when I did not budge she finally let loose and said what was on her mind all along.
'Your clothes are not in fashion Priyanka. Who wears embroidered jeans anymore?'
I didn't comment, I had no reply to "Not in fashion!" I had just bought it few months back. Either the fashion had changed too soon or I had no idea about fashion. Actually, I never did. I never had to.
My entire childhood had been spent in a boarding school and then the following two years in a small town named Tundla. My school had a uniform for everything, literally everything. We couldn't escape from it even while sleeping. It made it easy for our little brains as we never had to worry about what to wear. Senior Secondary School at Tundla did not give me much trouble either. Kendriya Vidyalaya had a uniform too and post the school hours, when I would hangout with friends, I would wear a random pair of jeans with any coloured top. Tundla was too small to worry about fashion.
I thought about everyone I had seen in college. It was true, they looked so handsome and pretty, dressed so well. How did I not notice this before? They spoke differently too, they were cool. This place was definitely not meant for me.
Freshers party was a thing of the past and gone, both of us ended up not attending it. For the two of us, it was just a quiet day in the paying guest house of Bangalore. Sonam felt guilty for blurting out the truth and I was dumbstruck with the realisation of it.
But this was just another day of tug-o-war and it would pass, I was sure of it. But what about the next three years that I was going to spend in the city?
The Hotel Management course made it a little easy. We were three students per table for the practical sessions and five per bench for the theory classes. I was talkative, so I made friends.
Then one day, it must have been a few weeks since we joined, Sonam approached me very seriously, 'Priyanka, why don't you ever talk about your boyfriend?'
'Because I don't have one,' I replied.
'Don't be a liar, everyone has a boyfriend,' Sonam would not give up and I was in no mood to argue, so I just ignored the topic and thought Sonam would forget about it too.
But she did not, the next day she introduced me to another girl in college, 'Priyanka, meet Niharika. She is in my practical batch. She has a boyfriend too.'
'Hi Niharika! It's so nice to meet you and to know that you have a boyfriend,' I gave a quick smile to Niharika, then a big frown to Sonam and walked back to my class.
Sonam finally gave up on the boyfriend subject, not easily though. It took me a lot of ignoring, walking off and strong arguments to be finally done with it. She was stubborn, more than I was.
One day, Sonam being herself, called out to me, 'Pri, say Choo.'
'Choo,' I said, rolling up my eyes.
'Now say tia,'
'Tia,' I said.
'Now join them together and say it aloud. You'll feel nice,' she said excitedly. I did as I was told, didn't want to argue and I agree, I was a little excited too to find out what this was leading to.
'Aya na mazaa, sachi bol, aya na?' Sonam was jumping with excitement.
Some abusive word I wondered then, what high did she feel when she used it? But it brightened her face every time she said it and celebrated every time I did.
We had joined our beds as I had a thicker blanket and Bangalore was getting unexpectedly cold. One morning, very early I was sure, I heard Sonam, 'get up Pri, I am bored.'
'Go back to sleep Sonam. This is no time to be bored,' I covered my face and slept.
'Get up or I will put the switch on,' came Sonam's voice again, but what she said made no sense.
'Switch on? Switch what on? Sonam, sleep please,' I replied lazily.
'I'm putting it on at the count of three. One......two.....'
'O MY GOD SONAM,' I got up with a start. She had the iron box on my stomach, with the plug in and her hand on the switch. Till this day I wonder, would she have really put it on if I didn't get up at three? On asking her she has always confirmed it with a "YES" but, I try to believe otherwise.
For certain priorities, she later moved to a different hostel much further from college. It didn't suit my purpose so I remained where I was. I recall times when I called her late at night feeling low, lonely or at times just bored. She would always come to my rescue even when I tried to push her not to. Somehow, she was always there.
Recently one night while discussing college with my husband, I said, 'I don't know if I ever belonged there. It is true that there remained people and behaviours that I never understood but I did have my share of fun. And most importantly, I found you there.'
And then suddenly, I thought of Sonam.
I had found her too.