Explicit language and references to adult content used. May not be suitable for certain age groups. Reader discretion is advised.
Thieves? She thought, as she heard a furtive scampering just behind the moldy door while she was struggling with the rusty lock on the outside. Nah! She rationalized. Who’d wanna rob this shit-hole? Must be the resident rat she had spotted when she had moved in. Ugh! Finally! The lock clicked, she unlocked the door and heaved it open. She flicked on the incandescent bulbs in the room to scan the room. She made a mental note – must buy fluorescent bulbs. She hated yellow lights. No rat, but rat droppings, she noticed, and it had eaten into her newspaper. She sighed.
She shuffled into her room, her new apartment…that is if you could call a smelly, leaky, rat and cockroach infested pigeon-hole an apartment. She needed somewhere close to her office and she wasn’t rich. So this had to do.
She kicked off her heels and quickly went up to her pint-sized refrigerator and scrawled –
on a sticky note and pasted it onto the refrigerator’s door. Her life revolved around her sticky notes. They kept track of all her appointments, errands, to-dos and not-to-dos. Notes on self-deprecation and self-improvement too. Her gaze fell on the other sticky note on the refrigerator –
“Damn it!” she cursed. How could she forget? She was meticulous and organised. “This move must be messing with me. Oh well! Take-out it is again.” A little leeway on a bad day is justified, she reasoned.
Half an hour and a few confusing phone calls later she had her chole-bhature delivered by a pervy, gnome of a man who was listening to some stupid rap song blaring through his earphones. She slammed the door at his gaping face without tipping him when he said, “We deliver all sorts of things”. The nerve of this one!
“Dumb-ass!” she muttered under her breath.
She showered quickly and changed into her pyjama bottoms and tank top and was sweating almost immediately. Delhi summers! Her ancient window AC chugged and rattled but at least it was working. She turned it on, fired up her laptop and thunked herself on her poor-excuse of a couch to watch her favourite movie – Humari Kahani (our story). Sappy romance was her favourite genre. Perhaps because she had none in her own life.
A few mouthfuls and chole-induced belches into the movie had passed when she noticed a soft thump-thump on the wall behind her couch. At first she ignored it. Maybe the neighbour is moving his stuff or something. But the thump-thump was getting persistent and louder. Rats? She thought again as she got up and put her curious ear to the wall. The thumping was rhythmic, evenly spaced, as if someone was hitting the wall on the other side with their palms…or back? She could make out faint shuffling movements as well. Ghosts? “Oh! For crying out loud, Trish, grow up!” She chided herself for being a sissy. Horror was her least favourite genre.
The thumping got quicker, and quicker… and then someone shrieked “Yesssssss!” followed by female rapturous moaning. Definitely not rats! Her hands flew to her gaping mouth as she realised what was happening behind that wall. Oddly enough, she felt as if she was intruding on their privacy. “Trish, stop being ridiculous!” she scolded herself again.
“Libertines!” she cussed with a feeling at the cracked wall. For a few minutes she vacillated between letting them know that their wall-shaking ardor was bringing down more than just the plaster on the wall, or just letting them thump and thud around. Oh God! How embarrassing, she thought as she pictured herself knocking on her nieghbour’s door while he…she…they (more than two was a possibility too, these days) whoever lived there was doing…it. She decided against it, and half an hour later, regretted it because the thumping and moaning was ceaseless, save for a minute or so’s reprieve.
She kicked off from the couch and slammed shut her laptop. The movie was ruined for her and every time she took a morsel of food, lewd pictures danced before her eyes, kicking up a not-so-pleasant riot in her tummy. She decided to call it a day, slammed herself into her bed and sandwiched her ears between two ginormous pillows to diffuse the noise. Eventually she drifted off to sleep while dreaming of naughty things displacing the sublime romance in Humari Kahani.
She woke up in the middle of the night to a rumbling that resonated through the wall and in her empty tummy. Her fuzzy mind was trying hard to make sense of what was happening, when she was forced wide awake by Jim Morrison crooning through the wall “C’mon baby, light my fire…”
Of course! Wild love-making entails equally wild post-coital music. She punched the pillows. She had had it!
She threw off her blanket and stumbled to the door. A few fuzzy attempts later she had the door open and she found herself right in-front of her noisy neighbour’s. Is no one else getting bothered by these hooligans? Then she recalled that this three-storeyed, six apartment building was only occupied by she and the copulents , on one floor and two septuagenarians on the other remaining two floors, both deaf in the ear. Go figure! And of course this archaic structure had no doorbells installed in any of the apartments. She had none either. So she started banging on the door as hard as she could, sans preface or warning.
No one answered. She was flummoxed, enraged, aghast and beyond angry. She was a bull that sees red. She banged again and called out “Open the damned door!” Still no one. She gave it her all and attacked the door with both her hands and legs and still no one answered. Finally, she began to tire and realise that the copulents inside were just plain shameless. So she huffed back into her kitchenette, took another one of her numerous sticky notes and scribbled –
She stuck it on the door with a heavy hand.She huffed back to her bed and tried to sleep for what remained of the night. Mercifully they had turned down the volume. How gracious of them! “Fuckers!” she muttered under her breath. The irony was lost on her.
At 6 in the morning her alarm beeped and she woke up with swollen eyes and an equally swollen demeanour. She forced herself off the bed. Her body was craving caffeine and she made herself an extra strong cup, which she nursed in her hand till she had almost spilled it on herself out of drowsiness. Two cups of coffee later she decided maybe yoga could help with the body-stiffness and the unpleasantness caused by someone getting hot and heavy next door, and, dare she admit it, being wildly loved. But halfway through she gave up. This wasn’t a yoga-type day. This was more like a wear-muffs-and-sleep-covers-and-snore-till-kingdom-come kind of day which sadly she could not indulge in because today was a weekday. Work beckoned.
She dragged herself through the morning rituals of eating breakfast (leftovers from last night and milk), ironing her clothes (lawyers’ boring black and white), checking her inbox for emails from work (more corrections demanded by clueless clients) and scheduling a cab for work (if only she had her own ride!).
She headed into the bathroom at 7.30 for her showering ritual consisting of oiling her hair, washing, followed by vigorous towel-drying. She hated the idea of using a dryer on her luxurious, black, poker straight hair. Her hair was the joy and pride or her life, the only redeeming feature on her otherwise plain face, according to her. Her head was all lathered up in shampoo and she had only just begun to wash herself when a flush sounded on the other side and her shower ran dry! Could things get any worse in this crumbling mass of brick and plaster? She cussed so loud someone gasped on the other side. It took a full minute for the ancient plumbing to sputter back water into the shower-head, and when it did she couldn’t wait to get out of the shower. She was going to break something or burst a vein if she didn’t explode on the neighbours.
She threw on whatever clothes she could find and hurried out of her room, dripping water everywhere. She couldn’t care less about the puddle she was making on the floor. She banged twice on the neighbor’s door when it swung open and she found herself facing a woman who could only be described as a pataka (bombshell). Pouty lips, semi-clad body and gams to die for were all she could fathom before that pout spoke, ‘What’s your problem, girlie?’
My problem? My problem? She lost it.
“My problem is you! You guys can’t keep it down, can you? Do you think this is your own property?”
“It isn’t yours either, sista!” Pataka cocked an eyebrow.
“Don’t. Call. Me. Sister!” she hissed, “There are others staying here as well. Keep it down or I’ll call the police…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we saw your note…” and Pataka slammed the door in her face.
“Oh!” she squeaked in sheer exasperation. Not only were they unconcerned about how loud they were getting, they, and particularly she, were also uncouth.
“I’m gonna call the landlord!” she shouted.
“Like we care!” a man’s voice shouted back. It looked like a couple occupied this apartment. She reached for her phone and dialed the landlord’s number who only told her he would talk to them and hung up. He couldn’t care less. He lived in faraway Mumbai.
A man came up the dusty staircase while she was still looking daggers at the door. He checked her out with mild interest. She realised she must look half-crazed, what with her hair still dripping and she clad in only pyjamas and a camisole.
“Kya hai? What do you want?” she inquired irritatingly.
“Madame, your pickup is here. Kitni der se call kar raha hoon. You won’t even answer!”
She had totally forgotten! “Gimme 5 minutes” and she ran back into her apartment, stuck another sticky note on the copulents’ door –
Sounds officious enough, she told herself, and went back to get dressed. It took her all of 10 minutes. Though she had been told she cleaned up well, she prided herself on being low maintenance.
On her way out she noticed a sticky note on her own door –
She left home with her mouth gaping a mile wide.
To be continued…