“Rooftops are nice places.
They are close home, but they are not exactly home.
Also, you can scream from them, and make sure someone hears -much better than screaming at yourself in your head, no?
Everything is closer on the roof. You’re so close to the skies. The stars look so glorious from there. The sun feels especially hot. The wind embraces you from all sides.
Sometimes, you become closer to yourself, too.
I especially like to be there when it rains. I like watching the rain drops leave dark, wet patches on the layer of dust on the boundary wall. I like watching the city lights all around in the rain. They look prettier.
My rooftop has a corner of potted bougainvilleas. Pink ones, and white, and some a beautiful shade of golden-yellow. It’s my favourite flower. Have you ever noticed, how, come winters, almost every house has a bunch of bougainvillea blossoms in different shades adorning a corner of its wall? I have, and it makes me so happy. During the rest of the year, the plant is so devoid of any leaves and blooms, you tend to almost forget that it looks so happy at a certain part of the year. I look forward to the beginning of winters because of them. My bougainvilleas make my rooftop garden.
Rooftop garden- sounds nice, no?
Mother dries her washing on the clothesline in another corner of my rooftop. And on Sundays, she washes her dupattas. Pieces of sheer cloth in rainbow shades fluttering in the breeze, they make for quite a sight. Once, a red one flew off the rope and landed right on Father’s head, sitting on a plastic chair nearby, making me a kite. I remember how Mother had laughed and how Father had smiled, and how happy that day had been.
Our home is not happy, anymore.
People don’t laugh like they used to. No one talks to one another. There is a weary silence, in the air. A silence of souls. It wasn’t like this before. Things have changed
My rooftop hasn’t, though. It’s still a happy place. It isn’t warm. I like the cold.
I smoked my first cigarette on this rooftop. I don’t smoke now, never liked it. I remember how the first few puffs had burnt my throat and how content I had felt. Young people and forbidden fantasies. You will know what I am talking about, no? And the number of times I’ve nursed my broken heart here, damn. I fall in love too easily and don’t care too fast. I don’t think I can really love someone.
Don’t judge me.
Then, I remember this time when I was eighteen and I didn’t sleep for three days together. I have forgotten why, though. I spent almost all of those three days perched on the wall of my rooftop, staring at the minarets of the local mosque in the distance during the day and at the stars at night, contemplating many things.
That’s another thing about rooftops: you can either just sit and think of nothing, or sit and think of everything. They give you space and they give you time, away from everything else. It’s in the midst of everything, and yet seems to be on a different dimension. They provide you an escape, an escape from reality.
Reality is a little altered on rooftops. That is what I love most about them.
They make the best places for conversations, the heart to heart kind. They heal every sore. That is why I called you here tonight. I need to do something, and I need to tell someone about it. You are the only one I can tell this to, because I don’t think anyone else cares, no. I am going away tonight. I don’t know where, but I am going away because I need to. I need to escape. Don’t worry, I am not sad, and no, there is no boy involved, I learnt the truth about them a long time back. Everything is alright, but I need to escape. My rooftop doesn’t seem to allow that to me anymore. Tell my family. I don’t expect much of a reaction from them. Mother might cry, please tell her I love her the most in this world.
By the time you find this letter, I will be gone. Be a darling, and don’t try to search for me or let anyone do so. I am searching for an escape. Let me, please? I have screamed too much from my rooftop and now the neighbours recognise that it’s me shouting at midnight. I need to find another place to scream from. A field maybe. Better still, maybe I’ll make myself a house and I will plant some lovely bougainvillea in my garden and keep some in pots on the roof.
I’ll invite you to my house. You will come, Dhruv. I know you love me, and you hate me because I don’t love you, but you love me a little more. You’ll come.
Tell Ritu didi to water my bougainvillea, please.
I’ll call you on New Year’s eve. Don’t tell anyone about it. Till then, make yourself believe I’m lost and gone. Tell yourself “She’s escaped, like she always said she would”. I’d love that!
You’ll do that, because you love me, no?