The screech of the chalk end on the blackboard got Anvita back to reality, back to her microbiology lecture in college, back from a sheet of paper that had the portrait of faceless woman with hands sketched to the last detail. Turning the page on her diary, Anvita did a quick detailed diagram of the structure of a bacteria outlined on the board. Like clockwork, she stuffed her chewed end of the pencil into her bag’s pocket knowing all too well, that the clock would strike 2 in less than a minute and she could avoid the mad rush for the washroom by having her stuff ready. Almost counting backwards, Anvita saw the clock striking and shifted in her seat before the bell rang. Making a quick dash through the door, Anvita stopped by the washroom to quickly wash her face. Looking up in the mirror as water droplets drained off her face, she looked deeply into her own eyes, as if looking for answers. A moment of contemplation washed away as quickly as the drops of water traced through the outline of her nose and settled on her lips. Smacking her lips, she wiped away the stray water trains and walked out to a now crowded hallway. Putting her head down and stuffing her ears with her earphones with no music, she took quick small steps to the driveway to catch her bus back home.
The long 2 hour drive back home was her highlight of the day. So many hand models, so many people on the bus, so many stories to sketch, so many lives she gets to live. Rapidly filling pages of her personal diary with sketch after sketch of her co-passengers and passersby, Anvita captured the minutest details missed by the keenest observer. Like the impatient man on the second seat who kept cracking his knuckles, like the old bus driver who bit his lip every time he got a minute to breathe and just look outside at the view, instead of the traffic in front of him, like the little boy who made tiny scratches on his football before joining his friends on the field the bus passed by. Anvita didn’t miss a thing, not even her reflection in the window glass that showed a fleeting smile as she sketched the intricate lines on the skin of the fat finger of a woman that was pinched where she wore her wedding ring. Nor did she miss the moment her bus took a turn at her street. Ready with her bag packed, Anvita was at the door 2 stops before her home. Waltzing into her home, she safely puts her bag under the shoe rack, where she neatly stores all her bags and takes out a sheet of paper and her tiffin, before heading into the kitchen. Her mother, soaking tomatoes in a broth bowl, looks at her over the stove and says, ‘Hey! How was your day?’
Taking a fruit from the fridge, Anvita says, ‘uhh… same.’
Heading upwards to her room, she hesitates for a bit and says, ‘umm, by the way, it was World Mental Health Day today. So we, umm, got these flyers… for information and stuff.’
Fussing over boiling rice and the bubbling broth, her mother, without looking up says, ‘aha… that’s great kiddo.’
And just like the water droplets that traced her face earlier in the day mixed with the salt of her silent troubles, her moment passes. Taking a big bite of her apple in her own room, Anvita settles in front of the mirror and starts on yet another sketch, a faceless woman with detailed hands, a narrative, a self-portrait.