In an unusually wet morning amidst the surprised citizens of Chennai who were looking up and thanking the various generous rain Gods, Vatsan stood stooped with luggage more importantly sad, hopeless and in pain. His round face showed sleeplessness of vigilant soldiers, while the expression on his face was that of a homeless dog.
“Respectfully kicked out by the legs of fate” was what Vatsan would go on to describe the event in later correspondence, for an artist keen on light melancholy, he would have been a perfect subject.
Vatsan represented one of the many million constituent bubbles which ultimately made the Indian IT Bubble, the same bubble which in a span of years had transformed the dried grass coastal plains of Shozinganallur into a flickering light of economy.
Vatsan had till the previous night shared a room with a couple of friends, of which one had orders to move abroad and the other somehow thought it was time for him to get married and headed south. Room sharing works in many ways, but for Vatsan it had been quite pressing to be pressed along with two strange men, and just about time when he was getting familiar, he was the single guy without a room on the road, in a rainy junction.
The room mate who had thought it was sensible to leave all this and marry also gave Vatsan a haphazardly folded visiting card, the cheapness of the paper echoed deep in Vatsan’s mind and the wordings also did not give him much confidence.
ALL TYPES <2BHK,2BHK+STUDY,3BHK> HOUSES AVAILABLE FOR WORKING PROFESSIONALS AND JOB SEEKERS ON SHARING BASIS, FIXED COMMISION.
CONTACT:xxxxxxxxxx <TUESDAY HOLIDAY>
But since, Vatsan was a believer of the adage “something is better than nothing” and since it was not a Tuesday; Vatsan had no other choice.
“So many houses here, all vacant” was the first thing the house finder said to Vatsan as they both sipped tea; the tea shop was Rangan’s office/haunt. The tea master was probably his cousin or a distant relative, but no one ever knew. While introducing Vatsan to his ‘dosts’ there as ‘party’, Rangan made a mental note of all the houses that would fit his assessment of Vatsan.
The first house that was shown was on the edge of a shrinking swamp, the sight of it from afar made Vatsan request for something legal, relentless Rangan picked out houses from his bulk album like a seasoned gambler picking out cards. He had showed almost everything, but Vatsan was not satisfied.
Finally Rangan closed the bulky photo album with a THUD!
“Finally, what you want? Eh? What?” in serious high pitch that frightened Vatsan, but as he was a man not tired of choices, said thus “ I want something liveable and also with someone decent who will pay half”
“Ok, then u select” saying so Rangan threw the album onto Vatsan’s hands and continued “IT fellows want to see 400 houses before living in one”
“You are IT only no?” he asked again while Vatsan was busy leafing through.
“This one!” Vatsan said pointing with his finger at picture showing a cavernous house, dark looking even under sufficient lighting.
“This one a? This is booked.”
Vatsan’s spirits fell to his intestines on hearing the only thing he liked in the album was booked.
“Wait, but I will ask him, if he can share. 2.5 BHK ok va?”
“What is 2.5 BHK?”
“Two bedrooms plus study” Rangan said as he held his primitive cell phone to his ear waiting for Vatsan’s future roommate to pick up the call.
The study in Scarlet, was more spacious and more darker than it had been in the picture, completely empty; it resembled an empty barrack with echoes.
“UK party, all family in UK. This house is investment, all ok? Rent ok? Ten months advance” Rangan who by then had lost his earlier business friendly nature and now spoke only in salient points.
“Why this house is called Scarlet?” vatsan asked as he looked around, he wouldn’t have cared if it had been called anything, but was just buying time, before the owner’s representative arrived.
“Oh! First builder built only Red,Yellow and Green; later Government sanctioned more waste land, so one by one all colors. See that is Cobalt Blue”, the house finder showed a distant house undergoing repairs. The colony of neat functional row houses was aptly called ‘MULTICOLOR COLONY’
Vatsan was satisfied and waited patiently for his roommate.
Rangan stood in the middle of the house and said “This is Sanjeevi, your roommate”. If there had been a fan hanging from the ceiling it would have scraped the well oiled hair of Sanjeevi.
Vatsan looked at himself and felt closer to the ground, even his urban work clothers looked dull to Sanjeevi’s brown long kurta that would best fit in the set of a Bengali art film. Sanjeevi held out his hand and said, “Straight from Shollinganallur junction, I think? So roommates from now”
Vatsan couldn’t detect whether the above line was relief or irritation, he responded what he thought was favourable and said hello.
It was only later that Vatsan came to know how Sanjeevi had drifted for year or so trying to buy time from his brother claiming he was preparing for the Indian Police Service, but immediately after Rangan’s departure Sanjeevi started snooping around Vatsan’s things asking in a friendly manner on the number of medical dictionaries and anatomy charts that made up the luggage.
“I’m a medical transcriptionist, I listen to prescriptions of doctors and sift through medical records and histories of patients, these have been quite my companions in the past few years and my previous roommates say I shout out disease names in the night; their idea of having fun was calling me a doctor and see my struggles to get the pronunciations right” said Vatsan not realising he was being more frank that he usually was, always a sign of comfort.
“Interesting…”Sanjeevi said, “but you wouldn’t mind me if I called you Doctor, would you?”
Thus finishing the open ended question Sanjeevi pushed himself back into the recliner and clutched his violin close to his chest, they seemed to be his only belongings.
“This, I think is going to be a long friendship” he said confidently, while doctor Vatsan unpacked.