House No: 25, Road No: 3. I’ve been here since my first day in Uttara when my father noticed the small paper glued on the electric post stating “Room Mates Wanted” in front of the medical college. Nearly six years ago. Back then it was only two stories tall and rest of the four floors was only brick skeletons and blueprints. The plot in front still had a house with a yard and the mango tree wasn’t cut to make room for the driveway of the nine storied apartment complex.
“I asked sir to design my house. He loved me so much. When he gave me the blueprints he said, I’ve made you a butterfly.”
The house owner told me the tale once too many times, most of the times as he scratched his bald head. Six years later, most of the seniors had moved on to get married and settled, as my batch mates followed suit, I left the flat and moved up to the newly made sixth floor with three other juniors as flat mate.
I had a balcony now, a slightly slanting one which gave me vertigo when I looked down. Many a nights I put my head on the grills and watched the windows flicker out one by one along the street and darkness congeal in the wall less living rooms of the apartment complex still under construction.
Then one day I discovered the view through small window in my bathroom. It looked on to the apartment building in front but through it I saw a white new building complete with families and house plants and drying cloths in the balcony. I went back to my balcony. The building was still there empty, wall less, silhouette of south Dhaka skyline behind it. It took me some time to fully accept that the small window on my bathroom was a window to a night of a different time. And I started spending more time in the bathroom.
A girl stood in the balcony opposite me and dried her hair in the night air unknown to the peeping tom from past looking on. The next night it was a little boy throwing paper planes into the night sky. The following night a teenage girl conversed in hushed voice in a cell phone. One day a small girl Tailored miniature dresses for her doll sitting in the neon blue balcony as her parents argued in the room behind. Another night I watched an old man listening to an old woman in white sari singing under a full moon in the same balcony. Before they returned to their bedroom the old man looked toward my balcony and waved.
There was someone here! I stood there and watched the lights go out in a bedroom in the future. I wanted to see the person living in this room.
I unscrewed the mirror and broke a piece of it. I held it out through the small window and tried to see the reflection of my balcony through it. In front of a dark room an old man stood hugging the grills with his hands dangling in the night air and his head resting on the cold iron, watching the moon like a moonstruck wolf. His eyes, hollow lonely and eerily familiar. Slowly the solitary reflection turned his eyes towards me.
Next day I left the house and moved to Dhanmondi. When the house owner asked I told him it was nearer to the hospital.