“Did you have something to eat yet? You get stomach cramps if you don’t eat something soon after you brush your teeth,” enquired amma. “Ya maa, just made eggs and toast for breakfast,” she answered. By the end of the conversation Kanchanamala got teary eyed, but managed to hide it from her mother until the end of the conversation. She quickly rapped up the call, half listening to all the advice her expert mother was providing. To her family, Kanchanamala was a rock. A stubborn brat who doesn’t give up until she achieves what she sets to achieve. She did not want her amma to sense the pain in her voice, especially after going against her family to come to a new city.
She was sitting in the small balcony, attached to the kitchen, which was filled with cobwebs and crow shit. It was slowly starting to hit her, the fact that she was on her own. She was always a tube light of sorts emotionally, she understood that breakfast was not going to magically appear as soon as she got out of her bed, her brothers were not with her anymore to drive her around and her father’s pant pocket, her mini ATM, was not at her disposal anymore.
She was lost in thoughts as she saw grey smoke form in front of her. “Holy mother of god, am I hallucinating now?” she thought. She turned around to find Shakti enjoying her morning chai with sutta. “Problem if I smoke when you are around?” asked Shakti. “That question is supposed to be asked before you light the cigarette,” answered Kanchanamala. They had a straight face for a minute and burst into laughter. “Although I am going to most definitely kill you, if I am diagnosed with lung cancer because of you woman,” she said and laughed.
Kanchanamala was now standing at the entrance of the house and scanned every inch of it to make a list of all the things needed to turn this ‘khabad khana’ into a decent space to live in without contracting any kind of disease. Her eyes panned from one end of the house to the other, when Shakti entered the frame, she said, “We are going shopping tomorrow.” “Shopping? Great. Do you want to go Hyderabad Central or GVK One? We have choose strategically based on your budget,” answered Shakti. “We are going to buy groceries not clothes,” announced Kanchanamala. Listening to this, Shakti was in shock. Just like how Tulsi Virani had a shock when she saw her dead husband, Mihir, come back to life. Kanchanamala stood there with her legs slightly apart and hands placed on her hip ready to take on this mammoth task.
July 2nd (Early morning)
She despised crowds, she hated when strangers came in physical contact with her, but there she was standing in an unknown bus station in a new city. She was trying to pull out her cell phone from her hand bag with one hand, while holding on to as much as luggage possible with the other hand. ‘Hey where are you? I have been waiting here since forever,’ she said. She was obviously lying about the forever part. After what actually seemed to be forever, her friend had finally arrived. Shakti was her pen friend which evolved into Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friendship with technology. Kanchanamala was friends with her since school days, but this was the first time she was meeting her in person. Shakti was everything she aspired to be one day, smart, successful and fearless.
They caught sight of each other from a distance and Shakti approached Kanchanamala with open arms and gave her a tight hug. ‘Welcome to the pollution and traffic of a metropolitan city babes,’ she said. They hired an auto rickshaw after Shakti argued with the auto driver for close to 20 minutes. Kanchanamala was in awe, she was staring out of the auto rickshaw and was admiring the huge buildings and billboards with beautiful women. She finally asked Shakti, ‘Don’t you have cab services here? I mean if you weren’t happy with fare the auto driver was quoting, why didn’t you book a taxi?’ ‘Heritage baby girl, we should save our heritage. Have you ever watched Hollywood movies or for that matter any foreign language movie?’ asked Shakti. ‘Yes I did,’ answered Kanchanamala. ‘So, did you see any auto rickshaws in any of them? No right? Cabs are killing auto rickshaws and we should save them. If that means arguing for 10 extra minutes, it fucking doesn’t matter,’ explained Shakti. When Kanchanamala tried to say something in her defense, ‘But,’ Shakti interrupted, ‘Save the heritage. Dot.’
They finally reached Shakti’s apartment, unloaded all the luggage and took turns in moving the luggage up three flights of stairs. Kanchanamala was going to be Shakti’s roomie and she was super excited to live with another girl as she always missed having a sister and was looking forward to having such an ‘uber-cool’ roommate. Shakti unlocked the door, opened it and welcomed Kanchanamala, ‘Welcome to Shakti Bhavan,’ she said. Kanchanamala thought it was quite narcissistic to say that, but ignored it as she was excited to step inside her new home. She entered to find a 1BHK, or rather a 1BK which looked like it was last cleaned before Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced LPG. She stood there in utter shock and thought, ‘Time to become Konkarna Sen from Wake Up Sid!’