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#ObjectofLove Number Do is this blue striped cushion that will travel with me to all the homes I will make but it is not my alone.

V and I lived together for 11 months from August 2021 to August 2022. While we had never met each other in person before, we had developed a deep relationship online during the pandemic. When we discussed, and planned to move in, our deal was that we both would commit to living in the house for a year. Of course, this was based on the contract with the landlord too. Moreover, I had been contemplating leaving my job so 11 months time-frame was enough to muster the courage to do it (there is another #ObjectofLove for this one too, which will need me to be extremely bold to share).

Based on the advice of a much older friend who had lived with many many flat mates, we had decided to bring individual items rather than have co-owned ones. So that when we separated, the process would be simpler. This was primarily for the kitchen, whose major set up was actually done by V. I wasn't in the space to contribute much. What was left was the huge living room. Of course, we couldn't get our individual furniture pieces, V was coming from a different city and I didn't have any. I had fought with my parents to live in this house. We both decided to get some cushions and a mattress stitched. Her parents were in town and so, the four of us went furniture shopping. The two of us, like little girls, delved into the catalogue exploring a treasure trove, judging and laughing, liking and disliking and finally deciding on a soft yet bright shade of blue for the mattress and matching blue-striped covers for two round cushions. We both had floor carpets and she had curtains and I had some film posters. We bought a second hand table that became our makeshift dining table and I had two grey plastic chairs from home. Our living room was set up. We got fairy lights later (a hilarious story I will never share!). Over the months, we had many friends over, my family came once, her family came twice or thrice. We had some parties. Our mothers sent us some food. We laughed, danced away our worries, shed tears of both joy and sorrow, and found solace and rest in the embrace of those cushions. Our home was set up with lots of love and care.

Exactly 10 months later, I put in my resignation in July 2022. Without another income source secured. Strangers might judge, but those who knew me and my journey, would see this as the best decision I had ever taken. I loved the house and living with V so I decided to continue living in this house. However, within two weeks, my confidence crumbled. August came swiftly, and a mere six days after bidding farewell to my job, I was going to Europe for a month and a half to participate in a festival and meet my brother. I wasn't going to be earning anything in that period. And, did I mention V and I worked in the same organisation? A very hostile one. To heal from the last 33 months, I would have to stay away from anything associated with the organisation, on a daily basis. Be it the house, or V. I decided to move. This time, move in with my parents, so I get the time and space to think. 

To this day, I think of it as the cruelest decision I have ever taken. I, unwantedly, stuck to my part of the deal. I never wanted to. But moving away did help me heal and now that I am doing much better, I keep thinking, “what if I was able to heal in that house also? What if I had taken the chance?”. I will never know the answer.

Back to us, we again laughed and cried. We went to our favourite places, we went through our photo galleries, we revisited different corners of our home. I started packing and initially declined her offer to help me and on the second last day, I called for her. She might smile reading this. Slowly, object by object, we removed my things from our shared spaces. Intertwined with our memories, they were not just mine anymore. I brutally pushed this thought away. I left some so she could remember me and so that the house would have a trace of me. I wish now that I had left more objects.

Then came the cushions and the mattress. I decided to be selfish thinking I was leaving the house and she would still have it. I needed something so I could remember her and the house. After thinking for a day, I hesitantly asked if I could take one of the cushions and the mattress, too. She agreed without a beat. She didn’t need to, but she did. At that moment I was overjoyed. For months I kept them safely in a cupboard at my parents’ house and when I moved out again 11 months later, in July 2023, I took them with me. I made sure I used them. Each time, my thoughts drifted to her - her kindness, her generosity, my lingering regrets, and above all, just her sometimes. I never asked her why she agreed, and I never will.

V has visited me a few times and we have both spent time sitting and chilling on the mattress. I haven't been to her new place yet, at least not after her moving day. I don't know what the one single round cushion would look like with new furniture. I am eager to know but also scared that my regret metre might jump up.

In 2021, being indifferent to pets, I had overlooked asking if pets were allowed in the building. I didn’t foresee that since V has had pets before, she would’ve been eager to foster. I was just very eager to have won my fight and got to live on my own. After we moved in, we realised she wouldn’t be able to get any animal. At that time I didn’t have much understanding what kind of pain this would’ve caused, I never knew what it felt like to have a relationship with an animal. And as fate would have it, exactly 13 months after I had moved out, in July 2023, I was in a new place with a new flat mate. On 30 September 2023, P and I found a one month old sick Kusu in our building compound. P forcefully got us to take care of the kitten. She created havoc into my life and I had to come face to face with my desire to parent– something I had been crushing for a few years now. We adopted Kusu.

Months later, when V visited Kusu for the first time, she asked how nice it would be if we were cat parenting together. I smiled and thought I couldn’t agree more. Kusu sometimes sleeps on the cushion and look, how beautiful she looks then. When V visited me last time, she got to see Kusu like this. That’s when she revealed how her emotions run high and how she thinks of our home each time she sees the cushion and mattress.

My #ObjectofLove Number Do is this cushion that safely stores the kind of friendship and sisterhood I have craved all my life and the one that I experienced all in 11 months and counting.

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