‘Every morning’, she began, ‘I wake up at 5, refreshed and ready to take on the world.’
‘Every morning, I wake up to the shorts and jogging shoes I lay out so meticulously the previous night. Today we shall go jogging, I promise myself. We will exercise furiously and become so fit and positively glow with health, as we creep out of Sharavati in stealth.’
‘Nothing stops me, I’m good to go. The music I want to listen to, the splendid morning breeze, the empty roads I can visualise, which smell oh-so-heavenly of thyme and camphor, or some such smell which I can't identify. The familiar route, State Bank of India, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Delhi Avenue, Bose-Einstein Guest house, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, System of a Down, Back Street Boys. When the world sleeps, I rule the roads.’
‘Back Street Boys?’ he asked. ‘That seems a little out of place, don’t you think?’
‘Well, I don’t know.’ she admitted. ‘Sometimes I guess you do things which you wouldn’t normally do, dance to tunes which aren’t your own. One can’t completely turn one’s back to the world, rebellion always comes with a tinge of conformity, doesn’t it? Sometimes, one feels compelled…to accept what society pronounces as good music, what popular opinion deems worth listening and sometimes…it does become a part of you. Despite one’s self professed individuality, popular opinion does matter, at the end.’
‘Nonsense’, he snorted. ‘Some high-handed explanation, that. You listen to Backstreet Boys, because you want to listen to them, because you enjoy their music. Society can only define the norms, you choose whether you like them or not. At the end of the day, you do enjoy American pop music, though you constantly try to deceive yourself there.’
‘And is that wrong?’ she wanted to ask. ‘Is it wrong if I growl with Rob Halford one moment and croon with Harris Jayaraj the next? Is it wrong to have eclectic tastes, to refuse all too convenient labels – emo, headbangers, punks, indies?’ But she remained silent.
‘Continue’, he said after a while.
‘Excitement makes my teeth rattle. The prospect of five classes at a stretch during the day doesn't deter me. I imagine the oxygenated blood pumping within me, from the aorta to the arteries and all the glorious calories dying a slow death. This is just too good to be true!’.
She smiled, albeit very faintly and went on.
‘And then I did the unthinkable. My eyes fell on two people sleeping peacefully in another corner of my 4X4 room. Two faces which radiated absolute bliss. Two pairs of legs and two pairs of hands well tucked into two blankets. I can feel my bare arms freezing. An adrenaline rush, possibly.’
‘I sighed and crawled back into bed, my head just too glad to hit the pillow. At once, I experienced bliss, like a million bells were ringing in my head and like I was floating on the clouds, like I could smell hot melting chocolate and other such experiences which define bliss. For afterall, I had two more hours to sleep.’
She paused. ‘And that’s why, sir’, she said, ‘I was late to class today.’
Vaishali is a second year MA student. She is a co-editor of the magazine and her interest in creative writing is very well known. She also stalked Mankiw's blog in her first semester. You can read more by her at http://vaishaliprasad.blogspot.com/