In short stories

She


Note: The story has nothing to do with Mathai's unpublished chapter 'She'. It's a completely different short story, a fiction. Enjoy!
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A story of my colleague, nothing unusual, almost same as of every working woman in a metro, but what stuck to me was her self-liberation with consumed awareness, “It’s a man’s world where every woman has to fight extra to make it her own.” I asked, “Why? Why do you say so?”
She was a strong woman. Born in a middle class family of Gwalior, she did her MBA in 2005, and now, a Senior Manager in an MNC; she achieved everything at her own. “What made her to say that?” I wondered!
“It is a perception made over the years. I know it hurts. But, that’s the way it is!” She never gave any straight answer to it. I could understand it only after years of my attachment with her.

Yes, it was a day in her life.              

Ohh, shit! ‘It’s 1.45PM,’ Rita called her hubby Rishabh, ‘It is lunch time dear, you better have some food first.’ ‘Just leaving in a moment darling, what about you?’ nodded her hubby. ‘Me too going,’ she dialed her son who was out for a football match; couldn’t get his voice on the other end, and finally left a reminder.
Her colleague patted, ‘let’s have lunch.’  ‘Wow! PakauriyaanRita ne layi pakauriyan chaar….abki baar….’
 ‘Just shut up Akanchha, you know I hate politics,’ Rita fretted.

6.30PM.

She shut down the PC, ‘Bye everybody!’  
‘Bye Rita….!’   

 35 and counting. She was still sexy, gorgeous and eloquent. As soon as she reached into the elevator, she put her bag in a way to hide her curves. Earlier, she wasn’t that much alert within the office premise, but the recent series of incidents, especially the Tarun’s, Shakti mill, Nirbhaya case made her alert enough to do so. She found a boy, eleven years old with a bundle of paper cups and a tea bottle, staring at her.

Ignored.    

She usually didn't mind when office staff called her sexy, but outsiders? 'Dare not say anything.' Coming out of the lift, extra alert, Rickshawwala to bus, she counted her options; finally took a Rikshaw to the station.

Being a bibliophile, she didn't waste her time, started reading ‘The great lost minds.’ Page no. 231.

They were arguing round and round, “Not many fields are challenging. Not many actually do understand their challenges. Not many of them are up for the challenges. Even if they are exposed to, they try to pass it in silence. They don’t cry. They don’t react. It doesn’t suit them, but they fear of failure...they are afraid of making mistakes.”

Stopped …reading, it haunted her….. ‘We are the heroes of our own lives. We will write the story of our own.’

Standing in long queue at Rajiv Chowk metro, as the train arrived, somebody just pushed her hard to get into the train. She fell down, could not figure out, ‘Who the hell, the guy was?’ ‘Deserves a slap,’ somebody just uttered, ‘you should report to the police.’

She was a Delhite, not feared, but angry. Even before she could react, her eyes went on to the digital clock. ‘Ohh! It’s already 7.15PM. Forgetting rest, she just got into the next train.

At the dinner table, she listened to Shinu – how he saved the game point for his team; Rishabh – why is he not happy with his boss. But, she forgot to share her own….no, not forgotten, it was intentional indeed. Even after Rishabh insisted she could just utter, ‘everything fine, nothing new,’ with a candid smile. 
 
 She remembered, last year, during an argument, how her hubby threw her, smashing against the wall and door frame. She had some serious injuries then. Later, she forgave him; after all, he was her hubby. And yes, he felt sorry for that.    

While Rishabh and Shinu, both were watching IPL, she found herself busy with washing utensils. She felt angry at the cockroaches. Arghhh! She must make some time to deep-clean the entire kitchen.

At 10.30PM, Going to bed, she opened the book, ‘The Great Lost Minds,’ Page no. 233.

"You are not your mind…..can’t be a perception but an old saying revived by Eckhart tolle, a spiritual Guru (In his book, The power of Now). 

We are not our minds...how often it happens we wanna sleep but our mind doesn't let it happen (Our wish is not the same as of mind; it's something different..... sometimes sync). We can't control our mind but mind can control us. Our body being physical believes in realism so try to set realistic goals only which it can achieve. It's like a motor without driver. But the strong mind knows well that real and virtual are just like those postulates on the basis of which we set the goals. When Rene Descartes said "I think therefore I'm" he was satisfied with the thought and didn't try to look beyond which he thought as only realism. Realism is a matter to believe i.e. as much you believe you make it real, which other may think as virtual.”

…….Arghh! Her mind hardly grasped what was written. But, yes she has had moments when she wasn’t herself! In fact, in majority she wasn’t herself. Before getting married, she wanted to taste everything in her own way; she couldn’t. She wanted to fall madly in love; she wanted him to have that much bank balance, that for the rest of his life, he could spend only for her…she wanted to have her home in Paris….'no not in Paris, God knows so many Casinos are there, he might get distracted. London, yep London, less crowded than Delhi.'

She wanted all of this, for the rest of her life. While she was thinking, drinking in the tones of her thought, her physical became dominant for the moment. After watching the IPL, as Rishabh comes to bed, she wanted to reach out his hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek—she did not care what she thought, but yes, above all she found herself lucky, he was lovable, inoffensive and brat.

5.30AM.

The alarm was ringing, ‘Good morning, good morning, good, goooood…gooooooood morrr…’Rishabh shut off the alarm, patted her, reminding it’s her time to wake. Gently, she wakes up.

After getting fresh and serving tea to everyone, she rushed to the kitchen; prepared everyone’s tiffin. It’s her high time; no robot could match the speed. Done the schedule, she left for the office. 
Rushed to common coach of the metro and not the ladies’ one, for most of the men inside, she was the only fresh air; doesn’t matter how she feels. For the moment, her hand went inside the bag holding tightly the pepper spray with face kind enough to deal with the situation diligently.
One of the kind men offered her, his own seat which she calmly refused, disapproving James Brown 1966 classic playing in someone’s mobile, “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world, but it would be nothing… nothing ….without a women or a girl.” After all, she didn’t want to live as some precious object in a man’s world. She wanted to live her own.

 Akanchha called, ‘Hi Sweetie!’
‘Hiii…. U so early Akankchha? What’s wrong with u, dude?’ astonished Rita.  Nothing….you know na, it’s Friday, We will do masti today…you’re coming with us? Right! Now, don’t say no..no. Common, it’s been three years, you have never been with us in any party. Pls, pls, pls Rita, for me…you can have mocktail na!’

Rita tried to avoid, ‘okay, we will see,’ 

‘What see, you’re coming…no ifs and buts, ‘for one day, Rishabh can take care of himself and Shinu. I’ll inform him.’

‘Okay….ok, baba. I shall, happy??’ nodded Rita.

She was wondering…hell, how could she get trapped, what she was avoiding so far. It was her mind perhaps, not herself.  While correcting the quotes, as guided by her boss, she could remember, how madly she was in love with Martini, a secret, she never told her husband, how in her girls’ hostel, she with her besties spent whole night watching porn, smoking Cigar, drinking her favourite Martini simply with crispy. Gosh! Crazy nights never gonna come. Her boyfriend, Karan, a painter ….everyone wondered how could she fall in love with that gawky Karan who never speaks of his mind…only she knew it’s his painting which speaks the truth. In spite of all the differences, all the spats they had, in that short period of relationship, she liked his drinking taste, she liked his approach towards life. However, she called her ‘loser, coward….blah blah.’

Happy now, she still had a secret liking for him in a corner of her heart. Now she knew, it was him who controlled her flow of mind; otherwise, it could have been self-destructive. He never returned to her life after she messaged him post the last spat, ‘I am done with you.’ Nobody knew where he was, but he too had a limited patience, she got to know much later.    
 Ahh! Where was Ria, her bestie…. divorced from her husband, Ria didn’t call her once, since then.

6PM.

‘Akanchha, you go, I won’t be able to join you Yaar! See, have loads of work to finish. You know na, today it has to go to the press!’
‘Ugh, back to the same logic? Huh, you will never ….’ Akanchha left.
She, sitting in office waited until they, the party people sit in the car. She, like every other metro girls has small secrets which she didn’t want to share with her colleagues not even Akanchha, her new unmarried bestie, who shared everything with her.
In the lift, a colleague stares, as if her’ is a matter to showcase. She puts her bag on the front; a mobile rings, ‘it’s a man’s world.’
…Perhaps it didn’t need her approval.
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Image Courtesy: dvdflm

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