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The first time I pulled an all-nighter

Friday, January 4, 2013

When you’re sitting up and working at 1:30 AM, listening to nothing but the sound of typing, your mind wanders, flitting between day-dreaming and memories. Mine just passed by this incident when I first pulled an all-nighter. The day our door-bell burned out. I was 12 years old…….

 11:00 PM on the previous night

We were heading back to Bangalore from an “educational trip” to Mysore. The bus was filled with Class 7th and 8th students and a teacher-turned-DJ. We started singing random songs and by 1:00 AM we were dancing in a moving bus. Not a wink of sleep was possible that night. It was the first “best night of my life”! We reached school at 2:00 AM to find our parents sitting outside waiting for us. I went back home rambling about all the fun we had and all the stuff I ate during the trip, and ended up sleeping around 3:00.

11:00 AM inside the house

I had just finished a heavy breakfast and was trying to figure out how to curl my damp hair with a pen, when Mom and Dad decided to go grocery-shopping. They called out for me to close the door and be good; I locked the door and went back to dressing my hair. I brushed and twisted and tangled my waist-length hair, daydreaming about the best trip of my life……..
The next thing I remember is seeing a blur of all the faces of our neighbourhood, a ladder leading to our balcony and my mother crying and laughing at the same time. I figured I’m sleepy and crawled into bed and fell asleep. 

11:00 AM outside the house

Mr. and Mrs. R climbed down the stairs, relieved now that the child is safe at home. They headed to the humble grocery store and ticked off the items on their list as they bought.

“Let’s get her a Dairy Milk” Mrs. R suggested when they were almost done

“Don’t encourage all this, it spoils her teeth. She’s already got braces” Mr. R reasoned tonelessly and moved forward.

“Then we’ll get her to brush three times a day!” Mrs. R was determined

Grumbling about how late the bus got last night, and how they had to wait at school all night, Mr. and Mrs. R headed home one hour later. Climbing up two flights of stairs ,they rang the doorbell, conjuring an adorable little image of their daughter standing on her toes to reach the peephole and check who’s at the door.

No response

They rang the bell twice, thrice, ten times.

No response. Tension began to build in their minds as they banged on the door calling her name. Neighbors came out wondering what happened to the generally quiet family next door. 

“What happened?”

“Looks like she must have fallen asleep…”

“Call to your phone and find out… Oh you don’t have a phone..! Right!”

Comments flew around, the other kids came to their rescue and used their screaming skills to awaken the girl

“One.. Two.. Three.. SHRUTHI!!”

They yelled again and again, some grownups joined in after a while and called as the worried parents jabbed on their doorbell. Suddenly after a while someone realized, when the noise died down, that the doorbell is not making any sound.

“On my God it has burned out!” Someone exclaimed

To try everything possible, the annoying kid downstairs got his toy Dholak out and played it like the Lord of Seven Seas, but there was no response from within Door no.67. 

The smart engineer from ground floor suggested we enter the house somehow, and found a ladder in his garden that seemed to reach the second floor. By then Mrs. R was sobbing and Mr. R’s BP was twice as high.

“Now someone has to climb up” he ordered. Nobody dared.

So he climbed up the two floors, jumped into the balcony and entered the room, and there she was. Asleep on the edge of the bed with her mouth open, legs dangling down and a comb in one hand. Apparently she was brushing her hair and fell asleep. Yes, that happened. 

The engineer opened the front door and yelled for everyone to come and see for themselves the wonder that was the kid’s slumber. Mrs. R ran inside and hugged the sleeping kid as Mr. R’s BP dropped to normal.

Sleeping beauty woke up for a second, saw a blur of faces and crawled to the middle of the bed to go back to sleep, amidst the relieved laughter of the entire neighbourhood.

So that was the first time I stayed up all night.

PS: True story!


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