Location: The isolated room to the left of the main entrance at 802 Kailash, Kaushambi
Circa 2000: The barest of spaces. Walls: newly whitewashed. Floor: the dirty brown tiles, unkempt and untidy, as one is used to in public sector company flats. A small, very bare, pigeon-infested balcony. One diwan (to function as the bed) horizontally pushed up against the wall opposite to the entrance. One pista green study table in the opposite corner, next to the cupboards. A dressing table and mirror next to it. One steel almirah, holder of all off-seasonal clothes and my deepest darkest secrets, next to the bed. One broken bulb lamp. One tubelight. An old aluminium box has my pricest teddies displayed on it. Six months later, there’s an old BPL TV in their place and they find pride of place on the bed. The ceiling is a replica of the sky, only with green glow-in-the-dark stars and moons and planets instead of the real ones.
2002: The dressing table and mirror have been shifted to the fraction of a wall between the balcony door and the bathroom door. Next to the study table has appeared an old Akai TV set, replacing the BPL, now having been demoted from the parents’. The wall i face while studying now has a few posters, mostly of Tom Cruise and the Backstreet Boys.
2004: More posters. More of Tom. New study table. Imported from Papa’s office, it’s a big grey, blue and brown thing, very official, making me feel very important. And it is now where the bed used to be. The bed is on the wall perpendicular. There’s a two-level book shelf nailed right above the table with the top one reserved for the special books, the ones i like to read, and the lower one full of commerce crap. A carpet now hides the icky tiles partially. My first bean bag, which looks a little like a chess board, arrives.
2006: A big collage of photographs, cards and such up on the study wall. notes, time-table, quotes, poetry, butterflies, colors, people…all part of the wall. Tom Cruise and the Backstreet Boys now reside all rolled up in a corner of the cupboard now, gathering dust. The books change from Accountancy and Business Studies and Maths (brrr!) to Milton, Foucault, Shakespeare, Ghosh…over three years of literature compilation. The aluminium box is replaced by a proper TV stand and now boasts of a fancy new Sony music system as well. The study table also has some of my teddies, a few photo frames. One of the old masterbed’s side table is now the reservoir of my music collection, tapes and discs. They all soon become redundant with the arrival of a shiny new iPod Nano. As does the Akai, which is sold off and replaced with the Sony flat-screen as the parents upgrade to an LCD. And then arrives the treadmill.
2009: Two years away, and the room’s now a bigger storage den than the rightfully assigned one in the main balcony. All sorts of debris piled onto the study table, into the shelves, the cupboards. It wears the look of one ignored, abused and exploited. So we begin from scratch: take down the cobwebs, dust everything up, throw a gazillion things out, find other things that seem to have been misled into the space of Losing-It. The room is now purple. The curtains are purple. There’s a new chocolate brown bean bag, a Daughter’s Day gift. The new bedsheets i buy are purple and blue with many many elephants and flowers on them. A carefully crafted rosewood book case, a much craven thing, now towers over the TV. A new study lamp on the old table, paper flowers, paper lamps, knick knacks accumulated as gifts all find place on the corner stand, on stools, on the study table…on any flat surface.
2011: The music set, the treadmill, the TV are all out of working order, but they’re still here, too hard to let go off. Or maybe the hope is we can get them fixed and they’ll be running again. A split A/C to make the heat more bearable arrived the previous year. A pin-up board has posters from the Jaipur Lit Fest, postcards from McLeodganj, some of the oldest, nicest photographs, a redundant time-table and a ‘To Do-Doing-Done’ routine with no post-its under it. Two framed paintings of a sole woman, one communing with nature and the other playing the Sitar, decorate the wall opposite the main door. The balcony is now pigeon-free and is now the most functional space of the room with a washing machine installed in it. The most important thing on the study table is now a laptop – the window to the world.
This is the space i’ve called my room for the past decade. It has been the only constant thing through my teenage, supplying all that is deemed most essential by an adolescent, coming-to-grips-with-adulthood-and-the-big-city girl. In film theory, the representation of space in a scene affects the reading of depth. Perhaps, what populates this space i so proudly call mine is a portrait of me on different dots across the time-space axis.
Virginia Woolf felt that ‘A Room of One’s Own’ was the first and foremost requirement of a woman looking to become free. Mine sure gave me wings (thank you Ma and Papa), and yet, this is where i choose to come back to. I get what those breeding pigeons loved about my room. It is the same even when it changes. Warm, cosy, open. Home.