I am in the middle of a storm. It’s a big one. The whole neighborhood was evacuated last night. The government thinks that the storm might demolish the buildings hence they have asked everyone to evacuate. I didn’t know about the warning. My TV stopped working three years ago and I never bothered to buy a new one. It was a good decision until today. I wished I knew about the warning. I rarely go out and I don’t remember when was the last time I stepped out of the house. So naturally, I didn’t know about the storm, until a DTH Dish Antenna crashed near my window last night. I think it was around 2 am. Through the curtain, I saw the storm. It indeed was a big one. Things were flying as if it were Hogwarts. I checked my phone. No messages. Nobody bothered to tell me about the storm. That bothered me a bit. But then again nobody was that close to me. I installed a news app and got to know about the weather situation. I live in a three-story building. The owner, who lived on the first floor, went to Dubai last year. The other tenant, on the second floor, went to Europe last month for a fellowship. It was a very prestigious one, he had told me one morning when we bumped into each other. I pretended to be happy for him. I didn’t know the guy’s name for fuck’s sake. I have no idea how people feel comfortable sharing their accomplishments with random strangers. It’s not a healthy thing to do. Keep your happiness to yourself. It can piss people off.
I scrolled the news app, and this storm was everywhere. They are saying it’s the worst one to hit since the last worst one. A reporter, who is standing in front of a green screen, is reporting directly from the storm. “Everyone has been evacuated and things don’t seem to be improving. All transportation- in and out of the city has been halted. Experts are predicting that the city might be heavily affected and will be unlivable for the next few months”. He is reporting with the enthusiasm of someone who has just watched the last Avengers for the first time. It’s 2:30 am now. I decide to open the window to see for myself how strong this storm actually is. I open it slightly and the sound of the storm scares me. Fuck. Somebody’s TV has flown past my window. 50 inch. Just like mine. Strong storm indeed. I close the window and draw the curtains. I go to the kitchen to prepare myself some tea. Looks like I have to figure out a way out for myself. The storm is gonna be strong tomorrow, they are saying. I pack my backpack with the necessary stuff- two pairs of jeans, some tee shirts, socks, an extra pair of shoes, a bottle of water, and a jar of almonds. I have no idea where I am heading. Just before stepping out of my house, I stop. I look at the TV. The TV which broke 3 years ago. I have decided to do something stupid now. I carry the TV and throw it out of the window. It flies a bit before crashing into another building. I didn’t need that TV anyway. The storm deserves it. I feel weirdly joyful. The kind that I haven’t felt in many many years. Joy can be found in unexpected places. I look around the house to see other useless things. I wanna get that feeling again. Mixer grinder, cricket kit, clothes, shoes, wardrobe, table, laptop, I throw everything. It’s 9 am now. The whole house is empty. It’s pitch black outside. It feels like the experts are correct. I message my landlord that I have evacuated the house and won’t be paying rent anymore. I have evacuated it for good. Before I receive his reply, I throw my phone away too.
I am out of my house for the first time in months. The roads are empty. I start running towards the ocean. My brain is saying that it’s dangerous to run at this moment. But I can’t stop myself. I am going towards that circle-y thing that the storm is making near the ocean. They call it the eye of the storm I think. It feels like it’s calling me. I shouldn’t go. It can’t call me. It’s a storm. But I am running faster now. As I am running I am reminded of that person who I left drowning in the sea. I came to this city 15 years ago. I remember my first house was a studio apartment right outside a posh bungalow. The studio probably was constructed for the house helpers, but the owner must have felt the need for some extra money so he converted it into a nice studio apartment. It was way too small but was done up beautifully with all the necessary amenities and an attached bathroom. In my first meeting with the owner, he asked me to think of the whole bungalow as my own house. “And if someone barges in, you should be as worried as to how you would be if someone barged into your house”, he added. I figured that this fucker has found a hack. Instead of paying a salary to a security guard, he found someone who would pay rent to him. But I didn’t complain. I had a house with a tremendous sea view. I could see the sea every day for hours without getting bored. I never drew the curtains. Then one night, after a couple of years of living there, I saw someone drowning in the sea. I was sitting at the window, reading a book. At first, I wasn’t sure, but then as I looked closely, there indeed was someone drowning. It felt like it was the owner of the house I was living in. I decided to stop reading the book and went to sleep. I did nothing about it. I forgot about the incident as if it never happened. After that day, I avoided looking at the sea again. I left the house the next day and shifted to the one I currently live in. Or I used to live in till this morning. I never saw or heard from the owner after that night.
I have stopped running now. It feels like I am in the middle of the storm now. If at all there exists a middle. I am drenched. I have nowhere to go. The wind is making me lose my balance. I hold on to my backpack even more tightly. It’s trying to fly. No, you can’t. You can’t fly without me. I see all my stuff swirling around. The TV, the cricket kit, my clothes, everything. I let go of my backpack. My smartwatch is saying this is the most activity I have ever done in months. I throw it in the storm. I throw them all. I am getting sucked in. I lose my balance. It feels like I am watching myself from that same window. And once again, I do nothing about it. My feet are now above the ground. I can touch the mixer grinder I threw last night. The cricket kit is circling around me. All my clothes have wrapped themselves around my body. All the stuff that I let go of has come back for me. It’s like they are saying we won’t let you go. The storm is even stronger now. I lose consciousness.
I wake up. The sun is out. I look around and I am in the same house. All my stuff is kept exactly where it was. The window is open. I look around and the city is bustling as usual. What a terrible dream, I tell myself, still not sure whether it was a dream or not. I go to the kitchen to make some tea. Suddenly a message pops up. My phone is kept near my bed. I go and check the message. It’s from the landlord of this house. He is saying I can’t evacuate the house because there is a lock-in period. I stand there for a moment, dumbstruck. I type ‘okay’ to him. I am in the middle of a storm and I am stuck.