It was late in the evening when I boarded bus to IIIT-RK Valley. I was looking forward to my new job and its novelties with childlike wonder. It was nothing like earlier. Life was changing day by day. I had to be on my own. And being on my own was a beautiful experience- to begin with. If I wanted to eat, I had to earn. Though a frightening fact for a person of my background, it soon turned out to be an easy task with all the divine blessings focused on whatever I was doing. So as I was sitting in the bus, thoughts of fulfilment and eagerness filled me. ‘Hmm… good’ I thought.
At around 11 pm, the bus started moving out of the hushed din and buzzle of the never-asleep streets of Hyderabad. Slowly, I crept into my tiredness and disappeared from the world of silly chores. The clumsily decorated background of the sleep world welcomed me as usual with open arms of protection and cheer. The dream had deep, open tubewells that I usually fell into, long snakes with dark and bright spots that usually ate me and hundreds of mountains with thousands of cliffs that I usually fell off from. There were also bright spots where white fairies fluttered their wings and flew around singing some strange song in unusually high pitch. There was a tall old man sitting among them with long white beard and a hallow around his head. The woman who sat next to him was nursing a child, and was beautiful like I have never seen. I loved this world of the sleep. It was alluring and repulsive. Honest and deceptive. Trustable and treacherous. Very human indeed!
But soon, I was shaken out of this beautiful but treacherous world. The bus stopped at some lonely place. The driver was yelling something out over the phone. From what I could make out, someone had missed the bus. So we had to wait. I liked it! In fact, I was waiting for an opportunity to get out of the bus. I had taken a couple of extra sips of water. I had to do it. It was high time. See, blessings come in all forms. I ran out of the bus, and did the needful standing behind a bush, away from the bus. Happy! As soon as I sat in the bus, it started again. I returned to my world again. Into the world of paradoxes.
When light broke, I found the bus cruising among arid mountain ranges fringed with numerous bushes and scary rocks posed dangerously close to ‘falling off’. It was warm. The rocky hill ranges were already fighting with the sun in rage. Between my long yawns, small villages rushed past the bus behind a veil of dust. It was 6.30 am. My neighbour alighted at a comparatively bigger village. Now I had two seats, all to myself. So I kept my water bottle on the empty seat and went back to sleep.
I was awake again after a while when the driver started shouting Vempalli Vempalli… ‘So it it close to the campus’ thought I. Somehow I dozed off again and again. After a few minutes, I got up and reached for my water bottle. It was gone! My water bottle is gone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So I checked if my bags and pockets also lost something. But no. everything is its place. Only the bottle is gone.
Out of all things I carried, why this water bottle? I have a costly camera, hard disk, shoe, certificates, books, clothes, … Why the bottle? It was my dear bottle. 750 ml bottle. Cute and small. I loved it. It was Satish who gave me that bottle. I had carried that bottle around for the last three months across three states, and over 4500 kilometres. And now it is gone.
I was upset. I reached the campus at 7.30 am. There nobody knew how to process a new lecturer. So I had to wait upto 10 am to brush my teeth. I had my bath in the office of the Director! I was assigned an apartment, but no one knew where my flat mate was or what his phone number was. I was homeless and BOTTLELESS!
Then again, god sent me some of my friends. They took care of me. J Life moves on with blessings scattered among ill feelings and disappointments and lost bottles, like the arid mountains fringed by bushes- fighting with the sun’s fury.
Now it is three days on campus. I have learned that things do not come easily to anyone here. The system stands tall like a capitalist. And the beneficiaries stick around like bonded labourers masking insecurity and unhappiness. Still there are genuine smiles among IIIT’ians. Still there are hopes woven into the garment of disappointment. Life goes on without a bottle as well… and I have started liking it already- like my treacherously paradoxical world of sleep.