Uninvited guest

08aI WAS startled as I felt something at my back. I was preparing for the professional exam of anatomy late at night with my table lamp on. I shared the room with two other senior girls. As I turned around, I saw Rita with hair spread all around her face. She had a strange look on her face. Her hand was travelling down my spine.
She put her face on my shoulder and tried to touch my face with her cheek. I swirled around and forced her to move away from me and ran out of the room.
When I came back later, I found both the girls fast asleep in their own beds. I could neither sleep nor concentrate on my studies. I stayed awake with my book just in front of me. I felt very tired from lack of sleep, frustrated at not being able to finish my work.
I woke up with the sound of the girls walking around, slamming the door. My limbs refused to help; the previous night’s experience had left a bad taste in my mouth.
Our room had three single beds, two close to one another and the other, mine, lay opposite to them. There were three study tables, each next to one’s bed but the two girls had placed them at another corner; as it was, they did their studies on their beds, books were scattered all over their beds. Each bed was also allocated with a small cupboard. They had theirs side by side, as if a partition to the other inhabitant. My bed, table and cupboard were all next to each other in the same way the authorities must have arranged.
The girls living in my room were quite opposite to each other, one having a bob and sharp features and quite well built. She wore jeans and shirts while not attending classes. The other girl was a tiny little creature, fair in complexion with waist long hair and looked almost like a movie star. Earlier I found the two girls sharing the same bed sometimes. One time I walked in and saw them in their undergarments and sitting very close to one another, they were a bit startled but didn’t move away from each other. An event that surprised me but I just kept things to myself. There was a Chinese whisper going around about my roommates but being a fresher I wouldn’t dare ask anyone about it.
08b What happened last night was something totally uncalled for. Was she making a pass at me? Or was she trying to get her friend jealous? I was horrified thinking about the slow caress on my back, I got goose bumps just thinking about it.
I went to the hotel superintendent’s room and found her busy. She was an elderly sari-clad woman. Everyone struggled to stay away from her. I am not sure if it was because of her ‘I mean business attitude’ or because of the fact that she picked on girls who broke any rules with the severity of a nun. I went to attend my class. There was nothing that got inside my head. I finished the class and came back to the superintendent’s room again. Seeing her alone I asked if I could come in, she nodded. I explained that I needed a different seat in another room.
‘Tell me, what is your problem in the current room?’
I was quiet, dropped my eyes to the ground.
‘Well, you have to give an application.’
‘I will bring it to you.’ I said and turned to leave.
She called, ‘What did you say your name is?
‘Mehbish Sinha, roll 34; 1st year.’
‘Listen Mehbish! I can’t just give you a seat instantly. All the seats are filled. Now I would have to ask someone to go to your seat if I were to give you one. I don’t know if anyone would be interested to do so in the middle of the semester. It’s very complicated; but I will see what I can do. So take your time to write the application. Understood?’
I walked out with a heavy heart. Should I discuss the matter with my friends? What if they don’t believe me? As it was, I didn’t get very close to anyone as I came late to the college and there was only one seat left that was allotted to me. There was another class which had already begun and I didn’t feel like getting in late. So, I sat in the canteen to have a cup of tea. It was lunch break and I didn’t feel like going to the dining hall either.
I hated the rat race among the girls for the best piece of chicken or the seat right under the fan, hated all the commotion in the dining hall while we had our food. I dreaded going back to my room thinking of what lay ahead.
At night when I was compelled to go back to my room, I walked in tentatively. Things seemed pretty normal as the girls greeted me.
They sat on the same bed, Rita was explaining something in her notebook, the cleavage of her breasts could be seen as she bent over her notebook. I quickly cast a glance at them and went to my side of the room.
She came to my side of the room, sat on my bed, made eye contact and whispered, ‘Why are you so aloof? You know there is nothing wrong with women liking each other. Look around you, it’s everywhere! And why not? I mean would anyone know your body the way you do? It’s impossible! Only a woman can understand another woman’s pain and it’s simply not possible for someone from a different gender to understand. Besides there is nothing wrong with having a bit of fun on our own!’
‘I don’t think so,’ I managed to utter.
‘Give me one reason why not.’
‘ Because… um.. its immoral.’
08c ‘Says who? Society? Do you know that society actually dictates who you are and you and I all act according to society’s will? It decides what role you should play!’
‘So you are saying that there is nothing wrong with female-female companionship?’
‘Of course not. From time immemorial females have always had female friends and that also quite comfortably, our mothers and grandmothers shared their innermost feelings with mostly their “soi”s, as they were called. Was there anything wrong with that? We in modern times have just taken it to a different level, that’s all. Female sensitivity cannot, I repeat cannot, be understood my men.’
She put her finger on my cheek while saying that, and I was really engrossed in what she added. ‘Women are in fact brought up saying what they should do and what they shouldn’t. What is expected of them and what is not.’ The fingers were slowly going down, now they were under my nose, above my lips and I caught my breath as they stopped on my lips. I tried to talk but she said, ‘Shh!’ and stopped me from opening my mouth.
I thought about my application for a different seat, I was supposed to write and submit it today. Should I write it? Or should I not? What she told me was not at all untrue. In fact, she made more sense than anyone talking about relationship ever did.
The aide to the superintendent came and informed me that madam wanted to see me. I went to see her, she didn’t look up from the paper she was looking at but beaconed me to come inside. I slowly walked in and she looked up, removed her glasses and caressed her face with her palms saying,    ‘I have asked Aktary to put you in 304, where four other girls from your batch are staying. It will be a bit cramped but they are your batch mates so you shouldn’t have any problem staying there. Now where is the application I asked you to write?’
I was quiet. I was oscillating between the choices of writing the application and not writing since this morning. My roommate has given me a different perspective of seeing things. So what was my next move? I couldn’t possibly tell her that.
‘Answer my question girl!’
‘Um, madam, I haven’t written the application.’
‘Why not? I need to have the application, it’s an official procedure. I can’t let you move to a different room otherwise. Now… wait here… What was your problem you said?’
‘It’s just that my roommates are much older than me and I was having problem coping with them.’
‘I hear … “was” as in past tense?’
‘Well, we tried to talk away our differences.’
‘And?’
‘I feel that I need not write the application anymore.’
‘Why all the commotion then?’
‘Sorry, ma’am!’
‘You have wasted enough of my time! Now go!’
I just ran out of her room, felt like a caged bird that had been freed just now.

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