Bedtime Story

White, fluffy and magnificent, the pillow nestled neatly between others of its kind at the HyperCity mall, dreaming on the shape of things to come. Until, one day, a rather thin brown hand picked it up and transferred it with care into a large shopping-cart. Thus did it find its way into the room of a tousled-haired student where it was to spend the next few years of its existence.

It was scarcely used initially as its owner seemed to have little need for sleep, though she cast many longing glances at it. Over the course of the months the pillow saw many things and received quite an education. It cradled its owner’s curly head when she thankfully dozed off after 10 hours spent composing a boring report for some excruciating course. It was the luckless recipient of frustrated punches and pummelling when the student discovered a mistake that had decreased her grade drastically in the said report. Occasionally it was waved threateningly in the air to chase away bats, cats and squadrons of flying insects, but the pillow bore even this undignified action with equanimity. On a few occasions – a very few occasions – it was damp with tears.

The pillow’s student was a silent sort of woman. She did not have a lot of people over to her room. She did not hold noisy parties or decorate the walls with posters. However, as the months passed she began to pin small bits of paper onto the soft board and reorganize her little world  a trifle hesitantly. Occasionally the pillow had to share space with a small pile of books:  Macbeth (a good story, showing the sort of monster that lack of sleep can turn you into), Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq (If Mr T. had slept well, all that pointless running around to Daulatabad could’ve been avoided) and The Name of the Rose (which acted like a strong opiate upon the reader).

The student bought bright colourful sheets to replace the dull prints she’d brought with her. She put up a tired attempt at a drawing on one wall. She changed the orientation of the cupboard so that the room appeared brighter. The pillow, though, remained in its place.

Soon it was time for the pillow’s owner to leave, for good. The chaos of packing sent up a thin dust into the air.And a rather snooty man was saying, ‘Madam, I am giving you Rs 100 for the mattress and pillow both. Last offer. See, this is such an old and worthless thing! It will be of no use to anybody now!” With that, he picked up the old pillow by a corner and poked it rather unmercifully, as if to drive home his point.

And the pillow was very depressed.



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