'When, finally, my bedroom was declared odour-proof (which it isn't -- for the record), I moved back in with a sense of relief -- only to find I couldn't sleep on a bed any more, having grown unaccustomed to such luxury after 10 days of camping out,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
There have been times when I've slept on the couch for being in the marital doghouse, but the circumstances this time were as different as they were prolonged.
Some weeks ago, the painters moved in and occupied the house. Their KRA was to do the rooms one at a time to cause least disruption, but theory and reality rarely coalesce.
They began, strangely, with the bathrooms, citing seepage for the removal of geysers (that have still to be put back), then the banishing of artworks and furniture to the basement, the stowing away of televisions and other electronics, till none of us could find books, car keys, shoes (I had to buy a new pair to avoid arriving for work in a pair of flip-flops) or laptops (I'm writing this on an antiquated system bequeathed some while ago to the chauffeur).
If the pollution in the city air wasn't bad enough, my allergy to both dust and paint meant my bedroom became no man's land.
Sleeping there was simply not a consideration, so I arrived with pillows and quilt to the family lounge, aka the bar, where a motley bed of sorts was laid out on the couch.
The plump cushions were removed and piled higgledy-piggledy on the floor (much to the delight of the dog, who thought it a new game), space created on the coffee table for essentials, and I was left alone to sleep.
In theory, sleeping on the couch sounds simple, but in reality it is a nightmare.
There isn't sufficient room to (toss and) turn, you can't stretch, the back aches, you wake frequently, and are left more tired after a night's sleep than if you'd stayed awake the whole night.
Over the following days, as the smell of paint grew stronger in the house, more detritus arrived in the room.
Piles of books, cartons of crockery, a case of beer, clothes from the presswallah, vases, furniture, linen, unwashed curtains, rolled up carpets and things difficult to categorise were thrust into the room.
Magazines, kitchen ware and groceries piled up like litter on the sofa.
Laying a bed on the couch was no longer an easy task. Clutter had to be swept aside to make room on it, but it was not without mishap.
A twist dislodged piles of clothes. Objects tumbled, glasses shattered, collectibles broke.
Trying to sleep embryonically over a sofa's width no more than the girth of one's waist resulted in aches and pains in parts of the body one was previously unacquainted with.
Joints pained, muscles hurt, and lack of sleep resulted in a dull headache no amount of pills could cure.
When, finally, my bedroom was declared odour-proof (which it isn't -- for the record), I moved back in with a sense of relief -- only to find I couldn't sleep on a bed any more, having grown unaccustomed to such luxury after 10 days of camping out.
The mattress was too soft, stretching one's limbs wrought guilt that it might result in something toppling and breaking.
A sort of Stockholm Syndrome that, I fear, may require therapy to overcome.
Meanwhile, it's my son's turn to sleep on the couch. He allowed his bedding to be moved in with understandable reluctance.
This morning, he had circles under his eyes from lack of sleep. He aborted his trip to the gym.
I empathise with his suffering, but have told him it's good for building character.
Here's hoping the painters take their sweet time finishing his room.