A Day in the Ears of Celia

They repeat. Every hour, every day, every week. Sounds. Sounds which first took up so much of my headspace that I collapsed by the time the clock struck three, but which have now become the white noise in my head.

 It’s dawn and the parrots and squirrels are celebrating when I wake up at 6:10, my neighbour, aggressively chanting Ohm at 6:30, to my other neighbour, spitting his lungs out at 7, the metal screeching and crunching of the bus at every stop and turn for 22 minutes, and on my walk from the bus stop the old milkman all dressed in white singing to the quiet street while he pours milk into child-size tin jugs, the never-ending Bollywood singing, excited/frustrated/attention-seeking screaming, and the regular thirty-second interval, high pitched choir of  “Ohhhh, Celia Diddi*!” from my students, maybe the jingling of bells seeping in through the barred windows from the neighbours doing their pooja**, then the giggles of kids when they finally make me smile causing me to fail at my serious-teacher-mask, I giggle too, the beeping and honking, which now reminds me of my kids’ urgent “Diddi!”,  follow me throughout the day as constant to rely on, then my favourite, the turning bells of the sugar cane juice stalls, announcing their presence to all passer biers, making my mouth water for two seconds while I calculate if I have enough time to gulp down the 15 rupee glass, when I arrive home, the sounds of my four gates being opened and closed by workers and kakas*** of the house to prevent the dogs from escaping, around 17 I hear my cook, Urmilla Maushi’s**** bangles as she walks up the steps to the kitchen to make bahakari bread, followed by the pounding of the dough to make it round and flat, once dusk has passed and the dogs come out, it is their time to sing, with barks so loud they pause any conversation, first, the 2-year-old, bear-like Rottweiler, Dorji, followed by the howls of the old beagle, Benji, as if he wants to keep up with the youth but has no clue about what really is going on, fast words in Marathi swirl around my head, while I pathetically catch a word every other sentence, the fan of the computer and hard-drive in my room always buzzing, either blocking the external noise or being it, and eventually, the soft click of my lightswitch right above my pillow, before I fall into a sleep riddled with loud and colourful dreams, just like my hours, days and weeks.

*Diddi means big sister, which is what the students call the Teach for India teachers and volunteers
**Pooja is a ritual of worship by praying and giving offerings to God
***Kaka means uncle, a term you use to address middle-aged men
****Maushi means auntie, a term you use to address women a little past middle age