He and She

Her eyes kept straying here and there, as though searching out something, or someone. Her manicured nails were painted red, he noted, as he sat sipping his cup of coffee, from across the table. Fidgeting, she sat, lost in some deep reverie. He had the urge to wake her up, to probe what was wrong, or if at all anything was wrong. But, he did not. He was not known to be a meddler; and he did not want to start to be one now. He laid his cup down, scooped all the files and documents strewn all over the table, and started to walk out. She did not even notice him. He felt anger rising in him, and yet, he knew he had no reason to. So, he stormed out of the cafeteria in a hurry, letting the door slam shut on its own.
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Shaken from her thoughts, she looked around. She realized that it was more than 20 minutes since she came in for her coffee. And not a drop of it was consumed. She lifted her coffee to her lips. Cold. She cursed under her breath, pushed the coffee mug away, and shrugged in exasperation. She needs help, she thought to herself. But who could she turn to? The ex-husband, of 12 years, who had suddenly packed bags and left, to Trinidad and Tobago? The mother who blamed her for every single mistake, every single step she undertook? The friends who never would lie for her, but would never hesitate to lie to her? Or her little boy of six, who'd ask her every night where Trin-dad-to-b-go was? Who was she to turn to? She swore filthy in her mind, for, she had no answers. Nor did she have any questions left, she realized to her dismay.
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His Facebook profile stared back at him. The photograph showed him smiling away. Mockery, he felt disgusted at his own reflection. The confidence of the picture gave him creeps. He read through his self-proclaimed introduction, and he could not recognize the person who he claimed to be. Someone called out to him over his cubicle. Hurriedly he closed his profile, and turned to face his friend. "What was that dude? A matrimonial site?" his colleague asked; curious. "No No... I was just surfing some stuff" he answered, all flustered. Okay, I’ll believe it (for now), he heard his friend say, amused, as he walked away to his cubicle. Damn, he felt himself angered, though he could not place why he would be so. Soon his desk was piled up with files, new tenders to be made, proposals to be made. His mind no more had the space to ponder over human nature, or at the least, his own.
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The clock showed 4pm. Time for her little one to be picked up from school. She shut her system down, grabbed her wallet and keys, and walked out of her room. She did not care to look at anyone one though she felt a hundred odd eyes piercing her. The lift never works, she muttered to herself as she ran down the staircase. Her car lay stuck in the parking lot, and she failed to hide her frustration. Yelling at the doorman, she demanded the other car to be shifted. The watchman obliged in a hurry, and finally she was out in the open. The Mumbai city traffic never disturbed her. She loved the bustle, the noise, the hundreds of vehicles, and thousands of people around her. Everything was dynamic. None cared to look at her, or judge her. Everyone seemed to have just one thing in their minds, to get going. She felt wholesome, she felt relieved and relaxed.
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"Mammaaa...you are late by 2 minutes and 34 seconds..." her son hurled his diagnosis at her. She could not help but smile. She scooped him up in her arms, and safely laid him on the front seat. After tucking the safety belt on, she said "Awww...Mamma is really sorry. Mamma had so much work at the office. I wonder if a jell-o could make you forget this." Winking at his mom, he said "Hmmm...I guess that would be fine. But do not repeat it. Promise?" "Promise baby. Shall we get going then?" He nodded his approval and the mother-son duo drove away. Their laughter seemed infectious.
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His eyes seemed to search for her. She and her once-bright eyes, and her infectious smile which had all off a sudden died away. He did not know why. Nor did he want to know. He had never wanted to be a part of her world, and still did not want to. But he never could understand why her sadness bothered him. It made him ache too. But he knew it made no sense. He heard a car drive in, and he looked down from his balcony. She was laughing; her eyes twinkled just as before. He saw her reach out to her little one. They were in another world; he smiled to himself. And then, he went back to his desk and hid himself behind the pile of files, the load of work pending.
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She got back to her floor, her son safe in his cr├Ęche with his evening friends. Once again she felt all eyes on her, except one. She looked at him, wondering why he never looked at her. Or for that matter, at anyone. Shrugging her doubts off, she smiled and sat to work. And for a change, she worked.
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He looked up. She was long gone. The office was empty. He walked over to her desk. It was shabby. It was sad, except for the couple of rare hours when she smiled, and worked, and created art. He flicked open the latest ad script she had made. It was the ad for a relaxing chair. It featured a boring man in a stingy cubicle, with a pile of files stacked on the desk. The man remained hidden from view, except for the fringe of hair on his balding head. His hands went to his hair in a reflex. No, he still had his hair. He smiled to himself and walked out. He called it a night.
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The fan swirled on, and the sheets of her script flickered in the wind. Pity, he did not wait to look through till the last scene.

1 comments

Just read it on fb...

still tingles!

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