#fiction, #love, #humor
Work, that day, was a breeze. She was glad she wrapped up everything early because she had the interview-of-a-lifetime next day. Besides, she wasn’t able to concentrate, what with her head full of Kirat. Why isn’t he calling? He said he would. Checking her phone every 5 minutes had become an annoying habit. But still no calls came from him.
She wanted to appear smart, elegant and confident, not just for the interview, but also for subsequent ‘dates’ with him, if any. So she headed to a swanky salon her colleague (the babe of the office) had suggested, because (as the babe pointed out) there was a veritable jungle growing where her brows should have been and her split ends had split ends, and she didn’t want someone mistaking her for a sasquatch.
The women at the salon made her feel even more unwomanly.
You need a facial. You have pores the size of Mars.
OMG! Did you exchange your feet with a troll?
Is that a decade worth of whiteheads I see on your nose?
Three hours later she left the place with a dented bank balance and a shredded self-esteem. Why women even bothered to torture themselves over waxing, painting and poking their skins was beyond her sometimes. She only did it because her first boss had made fun of her fuzzy upper lip once and told her no one would take her seriously if she didn’t herself. She left the job eventually but kept the advice. Oh! Who was she kidding. She went to the salon this time only because of him.
At home she fixed herself a healthy dinner of spinach, eggs and rice (no soda, she needed to sleep early), and was reviewing her resume when her phone started ringing. Kirat, finally. She hesitated before picking up. She knew talking to him would distract her for the rest of the night but the temptation was just too strong.
“Hi…” she said breathily. WTF Trish! Don’t act like a teenager.
“Hi!” His voice was as warm and sunny as usual. “Sorry, I never called you back after that night. Just got caught up with the exhibition.”
“No, no. I didn’t expect you to call when you were busy with it.” Liar, liar, liar. “Hope its going well for you.”
He laughed nervously. “Thanks, it is. Just two more days now…So…what are you doing for the evening?”
“I have a job interview tomorrow. I was just prepping for it.” Damn that interview!
“Oooooooooh! Wooooooow! Well….all the best. Hope you get the job.” He didn’t sound so enthusiastic though. “I guess that means you won’t be able to hang out tonight.”
“Noooo…I’m sorry.” Why, God, why?
“Don’t be sorry. This is important for you. How about tomorrow?” He asked tentatively.
“Kirat, you have just two days left till the exhibition ends. Please get that over with. That’s important for you.”
“Yeeeeah…. But let’s keep the weekend free, okay, unless you have, of course, something else planned.” ‘Let’s’ he says? Are we a ‘thing’ already, she mused.
“Sure.” She did an involuntary jig.
“I’ll call you on Saturday then. All the best!” He sang.
“Thanks a lot!” She beamed at her end. They said breezy, cheesy b’byes and hung up. The next two hours were a constant tussle between re-hashing her 5 minute conversation and trying to concentrate on her resume. Kirat won hands down. She tossed the resume into her file and returned to thinking about him.
So…Kirat wants to spend more time with me. Doesn’t that mean the next time he asks me out, it would be a ‘date’? But he’s an artist. I don’t do artists!
She reminded herself of her life’s vow – never date artists. One artist was more than enough in one lifetime.
Oooooh! Why couldn’t he be an accountant or a doctor? She paced the floor.
Oh for God’s sake, Trish, he hasn’t really asked you out yet. Maybe he just wants to be friends? She reasoned with her irrational side, who retorted smartly – You don’t go out with ‘just friends’ more than once a week unless Armageddon’s looming over your heads.
“Aaaarghhhhhh, why God, why did you have to bring the perfect guy in my life and then give him the least perfect job in the world?” she spoke to the ceiling. God answered by cutting the power to her area.
Brilliant! Just brilliant!
She fumbled in the dark towards the kitchenette. Hadn’t she stowed the emergency light somewhere in the overhead shelves? Delhi power cuts were infamously long and frequent in the summers. The city practically survived on inverters and generators and power back-ups were a must for newer residential apartment buildings. But of course, this baba adam ke zamane ki building (ancient building) did not qualify for power back up. She used the flashlight on her phone to look around. The phone beeped before she could even begin her search in earnest and she saw the low battery signal. Ohhhhh noooooo! Don’t die on me! She whined. She hurried along with her search and then bumped into something that promptly went craaasssssshhhhh!
Oh God! What did I break?
She flashed the light at the source of the crash and cussed, “Just fucking brilliant!” when she saw the shattered emergency light. Of course, everything had to go wrong, didn’t it? Thank you Murphy!
She switched off her phone to conserve its battery. There was nothing left to do except sleep it off and hope that the power returned by morning. But sleeping off a Delhi summer night without an AC, or cooler or even a fan, is nigh impossible. Before long, she was soaked in her sweat and the room resembled a cheap sauna. She wet a gauzy dupatta and wrapped it around her to keep cool but it began to dry up pretty fast. She repeated the exercise thrice before she gave up entirely.
Maybe it’ll be cooler out in the balcony? She opened the door and went out in the dark. The balcony was marginally cooler but at least it was better than staying inside. She sat down Indian style on the floor and rested her head against the wall. The view isn’t bad from here, she thought. There was no moon, and of course you could never see stars in the Delhi firmament. But the area itself was dark and quiet. Crickets sang in the tree lined streets. A cat meowed somewhere and the gentle hum of distant traffic made her drowsy enough. I should put some pots here, she thought, as she closed her eyes and tried to sleep.
Ke phir yeh,
Haseen raat, ho na ho,
Shayad, phir iss janam mein,
Mulaquat ho na ho.
Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…..
(Come embrace me,
for this mesmerizing night,
may or may not be again.
Who knows, in this lifetime,
a union like ours,
may or may not be again.)
She didn’t even realise that her mouth was hanging open. She stared like a fool at the wall separating the balconies throughout the song. Hairy Chest, a singer?! And what a velvety voice! Was this the same hooligan who, a few nights ago, she had a scream-fest with? Human prejudices. Sometimes we attribute qualities so disparate to others that their real selves seem incredible to us. She couldn’t quite relate the voice with the face. All she remembered of him, on the only time she had seen him up close, was fuzz on the chest, fuzz on the face, fuzz on the head. This butter-soft voice couldn’t belong to a boor like him.
Like it or not though, he did have a great voice, and on this scorcher of a night, his voice was the only reprieve from the relentless heat and sweat. She prayed silently for him to sing again. Miraculously, he sang. He sang song after song as if he’d heard her prayer and she dozed off to his unlikely lullaby.
To be continued…
©Pradita Kapahi, 2016