The Roommate

Fiction Oct 30, 2020

3:52 am.

The blinking cursor staring back at her, she was oblivious to the outside world -including me and my desperate attempts to catch some Z’s. As always, the only lit-up square amidst the arrays of windows on the pretty red-brick building of The Yard student dorm was that of room no. 402. Sighing, I turned over to check my phone. Just 4 hours left till our first lecture.

“Can we please turn off the lights now?!” I begged, exasperated.

Momentarily breaking off her trance, and after giving me a blank expression for a couple of seconds she replied,

“Huh? Oh, yeah yeah. Sure.”

The room smelled of instant ramen and coffee. I knew she was going to take a while. Brevity has never been her strongest suit, after all. I turned off the lights. The light from the laptop screen illuminated that deadly grin on her face in the pitch-dark room. She looked like she was onto something.

This night owl’s day had just begun.

“How many more hours till the deadline?”, I asked, in a muffled voice through my blanket.

“Three”

“What was the minimum number of articles?”

“Um…two I guess”

“How many are you done with?”

“I have three ready”

“Wow. So you finally didn’t go with the two topics I helped you shortlist?” *face-palms*

“Nah, I did all of them”

“Even that poem?”

“No, that one’s still left”

“Why be greedy, shouldn’t you sleep?”

“Yeah, I should…”

“But are you going to??!”

“Hell nahh”

“ah, here we go again”

This is a typical conversation that I have with my roommate. Almost every second day. We’ve both gotten pretty used to this system now – she worries, panics, procrastinates - asks for my advice – I help her prioritize – but always ends up doing things her own way. A sickly perfectionist – I’d be damned if she ever let go of a task without going all out, even in places where it’s never required.

She’s one of those close friends and we’ve always got each other’s backs. She’s seen me at my worst, knows me inside out. I feel lucky to have gotten to know this oddball.

She sleeps through lectures, and then panics about missing out on even a single word. I look on – rolling my eyes and mentally preparing myself for the cluelessness and the panicky barrage of questions that’ll follow. Knows she won’t be able to manage it - but still wants to do it all. Her room, her closet, to even her photo gallery and her mind – always in a glorious mess. She is hardworking and resilient, sure – but also unforgiving and a harsh critic to herself. Once she sets her mind to do something, will do it no matter what – even if it means ruining the sleep schedule of those sharing a room with her. :)

She loves music, she lives for music. She’s always had a very interesting and unique way of describing things – for her, music is her fuel rather, as she likes to describe it, music is what feels most like her own kind, as if that is her origin. The gaps and spaces in between the notes and the rhythm is where she finds herself lost, or maybe that’s where she belongs, where she comes from. It feels like home. “I could listen to songs literally as a career if I could” - she often jokes. It is the only language in the whole universe which makes complete sense to her.

She thinks too much, cares too much. What others think of her, perceive her as. It’s no surprise that I’ve caught her tied up in a messy web of thoughts, restlessly bothered by made-up stories she’s created in her head about what others think of her on countless occasions. She’s too poetic for my soul- and if she’s feeling lyrical that day, I’m done for – I’m the sole unlucky witness to her dramatic metaphors and a cringe-fest of poetic outbursts. She’s like an ocean of emotions - and quite a lot of times gets washed away, carried away in the waves herself.

She’s one of the most indecisive people I’ve ever met – naturally going shopping with her is a nightmare. I’d be there getting the billing done and there she’d come, panting, like an overexcited baboon and gasping for air between her words, “No no, cancel that one, buy this one instead.” She’s indecisive even about what fonts to use. The other day, I returned to the dorm after running a few errands and I found her still working on the very same title slide of Canva she’d started designing when I’d left, looking vexed – evidently deeply bothered by which sticker to use as a decorative motif.

Absentminded – sometimes even hilariously so. She’s the kind who’d get inside the lift and forget to press the button until someone else walks in, like I did once – there she stood, still on level zero, happily, like a least bothered earphones-clad penguin.

After having known this crazy, meticulous and stubborn creature for such a long time, I can’t remember which one of us has had a greater influence on the other. I’ve learnt a lot from her, and she has from me. She’s the introvert, I’m the extrovert. We save each other’s backs in almost every sticky situation from time to time – but I’ve always found her to be too elusive. Never tries to mix with my group of friends, never introduces me to hers. People rarely see us together outside. Whenever I compliment her about some cool thing she’s done, or correct / warn her about consequences when she’s going wrong – her response is always too puzzling. She’d let out a little laugh, and with an all-knowing smile say to me – “Whatever you’re advising me or remarking about me is nothing but the way you see yourself.”

Anyway, I’d just shrug and ignore it. But that puzzlement keeps creeping back, especially when people around me and my other dorm-mates laugh about and keep asking me about this friend and roommate of mine.

For it’s common knowledge to everyone staying at The Yard dorm on Maple street that room no. 402 has always had and still has - only one person living there.

Divyashree Vaidya

DJLIT Editorial Co-committee member

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