‘Before-After’

This past week, I went to Chennai to visit my cousin. It was the first time I visited Chennai after almost 2 years. It was wonderful thinking about how much I’ve changed, evolved as a person, since the last time the city saw me. 

The first time I was here, I came with my mom, she took care of everything and then she left. All I had to do was go for classes till noon and come back and study. And that’s all I did. I was all alone in a city I didn’t know and all I heard everyday in the phone calls from my parents and relatives was to be careful. So that’s what I did. I was careful. I shut myself up in that apartment and only went out for the daily dosage of CLAT prep. 

To me, Chennai was an intimidating city. Everything was new and scary. For instance, I walked to classes. And I remember how terrified I was of crossing roads. I even took the long way round if it meant that I could avoid crossing busy roads. 

And when my classes ended after 25 days, I didn’t want to travel in a train all by myself, so my uncle came all the way from Kerala to drop me back to Kerala. 

It all seems so silly now. Now I travel every chance I get. And If I’m alone, its better.  The roads aren’t intimidating anymore, it’s just annoying(how drivers refuse to stop!). I take care of all my needs myself. I feel independent and free.

Chennai always holds a special place in my heart, for, it’s where the second phase of my life started. 

Thinking about all these instances gives my a small sort of pride; this is character development right? 

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The yellow sheets.

They came out of the dryer, fresh- like my memories of it. 

These sheets were what I saw everyday (alternating with the blue ones) for almost 25 days. They saw me crying out of loneliness, frustration, sadness. They’ve seen droppings of pizza crust. They’ve seen the sweat while sleeping, because it was bloody hot. Most importantly, they’ve seen me change as a person in just 25 days. 

It’s still hard to believe. When I walked in the first day with amma, to the 2BHK apartment, all i could think was “oh lord there are more rooms here than the people living here!” 

I, who spent 17 years sheltered under the protective wings of my parents, was suddenly left, to fly alone. The unexpected freedom was… strange. “How do I not spend through all of my cash in the first week?”  I didn’t have any control! What was my parents doing leaving me alone in a new city! 

Studies took up most of my time there; because I didn’t have a TV nor wifi. Funny story, I’d taken a postpaid connection and my bill for the FIRST WEEK was Rs 2000. Clearly, I had absolutely no clue about the pricing here. My dad quickly changed my sim to a pre-paid one. Good thinking, dad.

Spending all my life in a middle east country, taxes were something foreign. So when I bought my first coffee from CCD worth, Rs 80 and paid almost Rs 150 for it, I couldn’t believe it. I stuck to street food after that.

Everyone warned me about the Chennai heat. I thought it would be fine since I came from a desert like nation. What I failed to count in was, even though the summers in Bahrain were hot, I didn’t feel it much as there was Air Conditioning all around me. So the heat was pretty much unbearable. I resort to sleeping on the floor because it was the coolest. 

What i think about the most is that, I was alone in a new city; yet I spent most of my time in my flat, with my yellow sheet. It will hold the memories of the transition of a young, spoilt, introverted mama’s girl to a pretty strong, confident, girl who I’d say is an ambivert now. 

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