He liked to stay in his room, where always he felt under control, his feudal kingdom. He felt under control because the elements of the room were under his own supervision. Zephyr could decide on who comes in, including sunlight, how should he react or even ponder whether the other presence deserved a reaction or not. But once Zephyr stepped outside the threshold of the door his control was gone. He was under pressure to respond to the sudden intrusion of external elements. Forced to react to the new sounds, new people, old people and even the Sun's play on him. Sometimes he chose not to and be like a transparent layer between what was on his right and what was on left. He could choose not to but damn those people who knew him well.
"Don't pretend to read", Zikka laughed derisively in a mocking tone. Zephyr knew he was caught while retreating to his shell. He immediately put on that "I am sorry" expression on his face with a fake smile that Zikka could immediately penetrate. Zikka smiled back, conscious of the fact that she had sensed that moment of vulnerability in Zephyr, caught spliced between reaching out and shrinking back. People like Zikka made it a point to blot Zephyr's social journeys, and these were the people who forced him to learn what he called the art. His art was exclusive and its only practitioners were the secret service agents. The art of being inconspicuous, the art of being fluid like a person minus his physical presence. Only because of his art he learnt to be cut off and be sane. Sometime he wondered why people are so fake with a wedge forcefully inserted between their external and internal appearances.
His life went on like this and one fine day came the intruder.
Zephyr had stayed all his life in hostels and knew an empty room without its occupants is a prized possession. Fortunately or not his roommate decided to go for a yatra to attend a marriage. That too for a week. There was he, lying alone in his room wondering what he could do. "Don't be naughty, Zep", someone hollered from the outside. Zep smiled and thought field nights for a week. So he set about decorating the night with a bushel of his favourite cigarette, a comfortable quart of "saste main masti - old monk" and settled comfortably in his universe ready to vanish. Once the rituals were done Zep set on to do his favourite activity of the day - which was to read a book with a glass of the monk and a cool breeze cutting across his thighs. For a bried period he was lost in this reverie and was close to becoming something which was not his character. He for once became a wall completely divorced from his room.
As the time passed by the bushel became a couple, page 6 became page 69, and the quart was reduced to an ounce, the apothecary's ounce. But he was sure saw a silhouette with tail that swished by and he was confused what to attribute it to. "Definitely not the monk" his innards whispered confidently. He chose to ignore it, the voice and the tail. When the quart was done, his day was done, or so he thought. As he retired into the bed and reached for the lights he saw the tail, escape the dustbin lid and not the dark room as he had imagined the room would be. At 4 A.M. end of the day shouldn't have been so bad, Zep thought. He could still see the tail sliding along the lower skirting of the wall into a corner along with 2 pairs of legs. The lights were still on and he tried to desperately search every corner, thanking himself that the room did not have many things on the floor to plunder. Of course the tail eluded him suddenly appearing and disappearing like magic act. Finally at 5 A.M. tired with the search, Zep chose to sleep and chose to forget that the tail could climb up the legs of his bed and put on a late night taandav on him.
The next morning was very happy for Zep thinking that the tail would be gone, but this elation lasted only for 30 seconds, for now in broad light he could confirm it was a rat. Sadly he surmised that from now on his control area, his terra firma, would have to be shared between him and the rat. Atleast the rat couldn't be Zikka, thanked Zephyr and went about doing his job - hiding from any external intrusions and calculating the area the rat would need in his room. He was firm and decided that the rat could not be allowed to prance in his whole territory till his roommate returned. Then it would not be his headache alone anymore.