The water level must have been rising for some time now. I noticed the crowd leaning against the railing and idly wondered what they were up to. It was then that I saw. The water was looking different, higher, rough and agitated, and lashing against itself.
The people seemed disinterested: they were observing it and making comments as if it did not concern them at all, casually standing with one foot on the lowest rung, a picture of relaxation. Within no time, the water would be kissing their feet. But there was no anxiety in anyone’s faces except mine. I watched them as I walked swiftly to my room. On one hand, their unconcern could mean good news – maybe they knew something I didn’t. On the other, it could mean they were not yet aware – if it were possible! – of the extent of the danger.
There were familiar faces in the crowd. Faces from my past. I hesitated, wondering if I should stop and talk to them, or at least wave to them. I had passed through the periphery of their vision, but time had erased the familiarity from their minds and the memory from the corners of their eyes. They would not recognise me unless they looked right into my face.
I opened my door. There could not be another room as untidy. Clothes tossed on the bed, shirts and kurtis hanging from nails on the wall, books carelessly stacked on the shelf, paper and writing pads scattered on the table, dirt on the floor. Through the open back door I could see water lapping against the wall as it rose. We were going to be stranded somewhere. I began rummaging through the things on my table.
The water reached my door. In a few minutes, it would be inside and soon up to my neck. I would have to join the others and see if there was a plan. My hands rested on my notebook, the one in which I scribbled my thoughts, my stories, my writings. I picked it up. I need to write, wherever I am.
I waited a moment for the water to enter my room. When it wet my floor, I would return to the others. To my surprise, it never came in. The water had started receding, as swiftly as it came. As it went back to its normal level, I was still clutching my notebook to my chest.
I would not be able to take anything with me where I go. But if I am given a chance, if I am given ten minutes to pick up one thing along, I would perhaps seek nothing more than my notebook.
*Title inspired by the blog Do you know who you are?