This is a piece about a pink door. Maybe it’s about a not-so-pink pandemic, I’m not sure.
Today morning, I woke up to find light insects everywhere. At the end of my bed and scattered all around the floor, twitching. Next to them were my words, also twitching but mostly dead. So, I got a broom. The blue one for the inside, not the kutti green one for the garden, and swept them away.
I write down in what was once supposed to be homework book: what to do with words that have bent to become commas in a coma style?
A long time ago, I wondered if the Anywhere Door went to the future. I forgot all about that conveniently because I was collapsing here and there trying to write about moments past.
The Anywhere Door first took shape behind 205’s red door on Saras’ side of the room. It is Saras who rescues me with her Anywhere Door, as she often does. We talk about where we would like to take the door. We settle on cities we grew up in, ones we were still hesitant to call home but whose people we were homesick for. This was a time when Chennai still seemed too hot and tapri wasn’t a wall-jump away. But not too long ago as by then, we looked forward to Saturday mess aloo parathas.
For months after, I try to write several unconnected bits about it.
At first, it was about many anywhere door pinks I know. Triplicane station’s walls— an eatable pink, like Nabadi wafers that still make me laugh. An Anisha Ajith kind of pink, whose house in Palakkad has light pink bathrooms, shiny pink rose apples, dark pink casseroles and fathers wearing pink shirts. Sometimes, a pastel pink with chumkis like Lakshmiakka’s saree the day she tells me at least two ghosts lurk near campus.
Inevitably, a lot was scribbled while passing Triplicane. About a time when it wasn’t morning just yet. Anty had stolen the blanket and inched over to my side of the bed somewhere through the night. I looked at a little blue book where he had written down places to visit. It was 4 am, there was more time to sleep. I counted the fat Pondi dogs we made friends with.
I write about everything from Gou’s love for repairing electrical gadgets, missing Dipa’s diarrhea stories, Donna’s Jio hotspot and sleepovers with Nithila and Shalom. SG Palya gullies where Dion and I sat on dusty pavements eating chicken and noodles. One bit was about Bob’s Bar — that is now closing — and its toilets and lines I love, “I sat with a broken heart, but only farted.”
There is some lengthy description of sitting at VJ’s table looking at her books, bouquets and pictures, waiting to steal more women writers. There is eating coffee powder with vanilla ice cream with VN and Dev J watching sunlight walk around the house with us.
Most of March and April is dedicated to writing about Bessy beach, trains and 201.
Long solo walks where Chennai streets took angry stomping, homesick for people tripping, running late for reporting and excited exploring. That time when I menstrual cup only to drop it in the toilet while the other five occupants 201 laughed outside. To sipping hot chocolate and watching Bahubali with the two waiter annas at Craveyard, after being devastated by women at Kannagi Nagar and their stories.
I try hard to recall the shortcut gullies in Vannarpet, the exact bus route to college and the feeling of wading through rain-filled roads. I think about chopping my hair off or giving myself another piercing. Some marker in the midst of not being able to tell time anymore. But most of all, I dream of a certain film sequence.
This is a film where I look for words. I take an anywhere door and find them in the middle of a walk, standing outside the usual shop in line or hiding somewhere behind a park bench. I hold my hand out — we pause. Fast paced music begins and we run-run-run till we reach a field full of sunflowers. Freeze frame happens.
Now I have something to say when people ask how things are, not a blank moment. Some words for me to hold close for all the dissolving and the misplaced memories of how to be.
And there’s some words for you. Words to soften the pinch of uncertain futures. Ones that sit down at the table and sprinkle hope in your evening chai even if don’t like the taste. Something that travels across cities and settles itself in a book you’ve been trying to read, excited vowels that leap up for company. Words for the despair soaking in sinks, stretching across twitter threads and drifting everywhere.
Words that walk into mouths and leave as laughter-mangled sentences.
Then maybe, sequel is we run-run-run through an anywhere door, past the pandemic, screechingly jump a few years to where the outside no longer has ‘the’ preceding it.