Of alone-times

When we were in school, 'loner's were the weird scrawny girls who used to go round and round a big tree on the school grounds, during games period. When the rest were learning how to dribble. Or sprint. Or show off the tan on their thighs. Or walk around in groups chatting about their 'boyfriends' who buy them ice-cream after school.

Loners were girls who never took part in the annual play, or the elocution competition, and had their class-teachers tell their mothers "She is very competent, but should try to participate in more activities to gain confidence." Of course, I was never one of them. So my class-teacher always told my mother "She should chat less in class, be less distracted, and improve her handwriting." So I would do the school play, and the debate and the elocution and try my hand at the piano and try my hand at Bong poetry. And scoff at girls who ate ice-creams with cute boys after school. Of course, scoff at the cute boys per se. They were all so lame. And none of them offered to buy me ice-cream. So I was the vivacious, un-pretty, 'all-round' student. And not a Loner.

I never needed alone-time. In fact,in college, I would probably be a little worried about my popularity quotient if I found myself reading a book in the hostel, on a Saturday night. Alone-time, was what people who wrote thirty papers in a term, needed. And then there was a night, when it rained, and I had half a paper left, and six hours away from a deadline. And I smoked a lone cigarette perched on the tank, at the terrace, and watched eucalyptuses sway in the wind, and street lamps make eucalyptus-shadows quiver along the phallic pillar of the library building.

Through the next coupla years, I spent Sunday afternoons walking around Church Street and St.Marks, around the corridors of the Academic Block. Along Park Street, Free School Street, Dhaurmotolla, Sealdah Station, in local trains. In Lutyens' galis, around CP, in Chandni Chowk, in Tees Hazari, in the Supreme Court. Not wanting to participate, express, or improve handwriting. Very content to simply absorb. Perhaps, wanting alone-time. Perhaps, a Loner. A happy one at that.

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Falling in love with your own company. Bliss, but just one step away from Jean Genet.

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