We booked a new apartment last week. It was a dream come true for us as we always wanted to have a home of our own, especially before we start a family. With all the procedures and interior work we have estimated that we would get to move in latest by June. We both were, in fact we both are, damn excited about it. But then last night when I was tossing and turning in bed trying to get some sleep a sudden thought crossed my mind. Moving in to our new home would mean bidding farewell to the place we currently stay in.
This two bedroom apartment was rented by us a month before we got married. Hari came to see the place, felt instantly that I would like it and went for it. I remember I couldn’t wait to see the apartment when he called me up and told me he had paid the rental advance to the owner, back in September, 2012. Hari wanted me to have a first-hand experience of it rather than seeing it online; so he didn’t send me any pictures of the apartment. Thus I had to wait for more than a month to see our first home.
I finally got to see my new home on 14 November, 2012. While Hari was fiddling with the keys, trying to get the lock open, my heart was pounding hard. I was scared if I would like the place. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t say that to Hari. After minutes of suspense, he finally opened the door. We lit a lamp and entered our den, placing the right foot in first according to custom. It was a cozy little apartment with a beautiful L-shaped green sofa in the living room, bright orange wall on one side and everything we needed. But the initial enthusiasm dimmed when I opened the refrigerator. Those who had left the apartment had switched it off and left it closed. The result was a refrigerator which was covered in fungus – I’m not exaggerating when I say the white interior of the refrigerator was completely black when I opened it. The taps and buckets were covered in scales from the chlorinated water. The wash basins, floor tiles and bathroom tiles were covered in dust due to more than two months of non-use. The stove and kitchen wall tiles were greasy with oil from ages. The kitchen sink was blocked.
It was at that moment that it hit me that I was now a wife, the official keeper of the place. It struck me that I had to take charge, like my mom and every other woman I had seen. A welcome relief was that unlike many men I had come across from the previous generation, I belong to the lucky generation of women where most husbands take equal share in the work at home. But still, it scared me that this was now our home, the place which was first and foremost, my responsibility. When it did dawn on me completely, I broke down and cried continuously for an hour. Hari, the clueless groom, sat by me, stroking my head, wondering what had happened to me all of a sudden.
After giving vent to my fears in the form of tears, I gathered courage and decided to live up to the expectations and face my new life and new home, and all the challenges it presented. We pulled up our socks, got ready with rags and scrubs and brooms and started cleaning up the apartment from one end. After three hours of scrubbing and cleaning, with our arms and legs hurting like hell, we opened our eyes to a new home. It was just perfect. That is how I started my life as a wife.
It was in this apartment that I learned how to take care of a home. I learned how to cook. I learned how to clean. I learned how to shop for groceries and household items. I learned how to wash. I learned what to do and whom to call when something does not work. Hari was eager to learn everything I learned. Together we moved from clueless newlyweds to seasoned homemakers.
All our memories of the initial years, the so-called honeymoon period of our life together are attached to this apartment. All the hours of lazing around on the green sofa, spooning each other and sleeping peacefully on our queen-sized bed, experimenting with new dishes in our little kitchen, complimenting each other on how tasty the food is at the dining table, dragging Hari along to the toilet after watching a horror movie, fighting for space in the small wardrobe, inching each other away from in front of the mirror in the struggle to get ready in the morning, hours and hours of endless chatter, having a tiff and almost immediately laughing out once a quarter tops, excitedly making the guest bed for the rare visitors, shutting our ears to the sound of clarinets and drums and bells from some festival or the other in the temple and houses nearby every other day – every single memory tinged with the sparkle of romance, attached to this little apartment.
When the owner of the apartment came once to visit us with his wife, she wished to see all the rooms. I thought of it at the time as only a landlord’s concern in seeing whether the apartment is in good shape. When she told me she just wanted to relive the memories, I didn’t take her very seriously. But now I understand what she meant. The realization that we would have only a couple of months or so here has made me realize the feelings behind her words. What breaks my heart more is the fact that unlike the owners, we wouldn’t even be able to come see the apartment when we wish to, once it is leased out to a new family. All we can do is give as much love as possible to this home while we can, keep our memories intact and cherish the moments we once spent in our first home – the home with the orange wall and the green sofa, the newlyweds’ den.