Tuesday 10 August 2021

Jignasa Parikh, ShortStory 2021 Longlist

The Hangover

She had been living alone ever since she arrived to the city. Pride of her parents, making a living as a writer and living life on her terms. Her apartment was in a quintessential suburb in a quite lane adorned by Gulmohur trees on both sides. An old building, where most population of owners was of couples with empty nests and the rest of people like her. A one bedroom house that she tried to make her own by beautifying it with minimalism and her hard earned penny from words.

It was the fourth Friday of the lockdown. Her evening started with the memories of the other Fridays she celebrated with friends who had become like family and who, just like her were making the most the city had to offer. She smiled thinking of moments they shared over drinks at another’s house or their regular watering hole that became regular only because it was exactly the same distance for everyone. Their laughter echoes in her empty living room which was so quiet only barring the noise of the fan that squeaked time and again. Her beautiful white and pastel pink curtains made some movement out of pity for her and the fan.

After this first drink of reminiscence, she switched her thought drink to optimism. She started thinking of how things are just going to pick up for her post the lockdown. She was glad she was utilizing this time to write more and to develop other skills. She lauded herself for the same. The optimism drink was the quickest to finish. It was over in 4 gulps. And she decided to switch again to another drink from her thought hole.

Her next drink was determination. She was determined to not let any bad thoughts affect her sanity. But she did not enjoy this drink much. As it required for her to make an effort and she was already 2 drinks down and in no mood. So she gulps this drink too and quickly moves on to the next one.

Her next drink although colorful starts getting more potent. It’s called Satisfaction & Frustration. Although the first few sips gives her an elation of being satisfied of where she was and what she did, but the more this drink seeped into her, the more it started turning into frustration. She was angry at herself for not doing enough, for not making most of the time at hand. She got reminded of her Instagram feed and it led to even more frustration and a feeling of not being good enough. And soon the next drink of depression got served to her without asking.

Each sip of this drink started making her feel restless and difficult to concentrate on any single feeling or thought. Her mind jumped from nostalgia to demotivation to a sense of despair and finally to hopelessness. And soon she shouted out for her next drink – anger.

She was angry with herself, her family for leaving her alone, people she worked with for not paying her enough and her friends and people she knew for just having better lives than her. She started walking frantically in her living room and bumped her knee in the center table. After all she had had a little too many for the evening. She did not feel the pain of the bump but continued her frantic walk up and down the small space till she finally sat down. But she got up again and frantically went to the kitchen and made herself some instant noodles as all the anger gave rise to hunger.

She sat herself down with the bowl and had a few bites. Her breath finally turned to normal. And her next drink was something that went well with the food. Acceptance. While taking sips of her drink and bites of her noodles, her body finally relaxed. She finally started letting go. She just wanted to close her eyes and be and just let go. So she did just that. With a drunken walk she heads to the bedroom and falls on her bed and immediately started snoring in a minute. Her snores stopped eventually and it was all quiet.

The morning light came in from the windows. She had forgotten to draw her curtain on account of being so drunk the previous night. Her swollen eyes funding nuisance in the light flickers. She tosses and turns on her bed dressed in a beautiful cotton bed sheet with Aztec design on it. She finally decides to get up and have a cup of black coffee for the hangover from last night mixed with another cure for such a hangover. Making meaning. And as the day dawns, she finally manages to put the pieces of her life back.

She sits on her laptop and stares at it for a while. And then she starts at the purple green bruise on her knee. And then she writes, “It’s important to break sometimes in order to heal.”

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