Sharing my Room (and allied conversations)

I’ve blogged elsewhere about my roommate and his hard work, his dedication to his craft, and things about him that inspire me. However, this is my last semester: my last opportunity to witness that up-close. No time in the future will ever be like time in the present, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is something that deserves acknowledgment. My roommate and I got around to acknowledging this a little more intently last evening when we realized that we’re almost one month into our final semester. That leaves us with three more before we graduate. Just three more months of living together. When we sat and charted out our paths and what we’re hopeful of doing once University comes to a close, we came to the realization that it is unlikely that we will meet for some time. Although the refrain was, “we’ll make plans to meet”, and “I’ll come visit you”, we both acknowledged the truth of it – first, that it would take some effort for us to meet (unlike how things are today), and second, that even if we do meet, we’re unlikely to interact in such close quarters – the way we have as roommates. That impacted us both, so we shut down our laptops and spoke to each other for the remainder of the night till we fell into a slumber.

Prior to arriving at University, I had never shared my room with anybody. I am a single child, without siblings, or cousins who are my age – and consequently grew up with the privilege of having my own sanctum. A room that I lived in alone – that I took decisions about, of my own accord. Aside from my mother’s usual interruptions (to prepare me for the noise that the hostel would bring, she claimed), not much really interfered with how I lived my life. It was one of things I was definitely a little intrigued by before I came here. Who would be my roommate? Would we get along? How would two individuals live with each other in such a small space?

I arrived at University to be greeted by this boy – this marvel of a human being who has been with me ever since. We’re from very different backgrounds, him and I, but we’ve managed to become close friends. That isn’t because of too much conversation, or too many shared interests: in fact, we speak to each other very little as compared to others, and I think we share a concrete interest only in cricket. Yesterday, however, as we took a trip down memory lane – to what our last four and a half years had brought us, a couple of things became clear.

Perhaps the biggest realization from last evening was that there was nobody on campus who had seen us the way we had seen each other. When you stay on a residential campus, it is difficult to have any sense of privacy at all. Perhaps with intangibles you’re fully in control of: like information, but tangibly, it is tough to find space when you need it most. You’re constantly surrounded by the same people, you share a washroom with several individuals. Then you return to your room, and you’re never really truly alone, even though you might want to be. Which is when you become used to having your roommate around. An acceptance of the fact that he is a part of your world, that this is as alone as alone gets, and that it is okay to be vulnerable, to let down any guards you may have, in front of a third party. It takes a lot of trust – a lot of which develops through things unsaid and small gestures unnoticed, than the bigger things. But it happens, and so it took place with the two of us as well.

My roommate has seen me break down several times on campus. He saw me struggle with a back injury few people knew about in my second semester. In my fourth semester, when I was angry and I refused to attend classes for some time, he helped me piece myself together and energize myself for the rest of law school. When I celebrated accomplishments in my sixth and seventh semesters, he celebrated with me – in the room. In my ninth semester, when I cried, he offered me water – not so that I would stop crying, or feel comfort, but because I needed more water in my system for the tears to fall out, so I could let go of everything I was feeling. I’d like to think that I helped him in some ways too – and he’s acknowledged this publicly, but what makes me the happiest is that this boy, this wonder of a human, knows where his worth truly lies. That isn’t an overnight discovery, it is rare that any discoveries are. A lot of that discovery has taken place in this room: and although several people see the final product, not many can speak and attest to the kind of self-doubt that arose through that process of discovery.

There are few human connections I value more than the one I share with my roommate. He has taught me to think more critically, to acknowledge my privilege, to acknowledge my ignorance. More importantly though, he has taught me to share. To share a piece of my soul with him in a confined space, not through words, but through routine, and habit. To share a piece of my world, not because he wanted it, but because we needed to be able to understand each other better in order to live with one another. There are so many things I feel like we still need to say to each other – and I’m glad we’re both aware there’s only so much time to do it in. It’ll force us to let everything out, to leave nothing unsaid, to leave no bit of gratefulness unknown. It’s why I’m so lucky that we shared that realization yesterday evening. If nothing else, it’s made us recognize that we both need to go out to McDonalds together soon.

I don’t know if I’ll have roommates in the future. Only time will tell. Whoever enters my life though, the bar is set pretty high.

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