Her arms went heavy with all the workload the day. Reema sat still on the chair determined to stay erect….slowly got up and fell on the bed with a thump. She just lay on the velvet bed sprawled across the breadth of it, listening to the rattling of dried leaves so distinct in the silence of the night.
She looked straight through the window expecting to see the street deserted except for the board that said, “Blue Hills. Street-7” It has rusted a lot after she first came to the locality 20 years ago. To her the colony was the best place in Missaco. But she saw a child crying be fed more candies stamping its feet feverishly. The mother incessantly kept nodding her head and taping the boy’s arm. The boy is a clear outline against the white compound wall of the building with its stubborn cheeks and chubby physique.
Now the mother is almost dragging the kid to the other side of the wall that had the entrance to the building. The boy cried out louder that she could hear this time, “Mommy, just one more. I want the mango flavored…the yellow poppins.” She nodded and mumbled something again. The mom must have parroted the same story about cavities.
She stretched her legs straight as she lay on my back now. She looked right at the ceiling in the grey darkness, it looked like the ceiling was all but a screen of smoke…like the world extended beyond….much beyond….and must beyond. She rolled over and the mother-child duo was at the fag end of the street, the boy was in her arms now. As they turned to move into the entrance, the kid’s face glow under the street lamp, he was so smug and his tear-stained face now looked proud as he leaned on his mom’s shoulder looking over it.
Could he be cupid? He looked every bit a cupid. They stopped at the doorstep now. Even if he really is cupid I don’t think she was Helen. If she were, would she scold the kid so badly….won’t goddess of love be gentler? Or maybe she will actually scold…..maybe that’s what she always does for the fear of cavities. The thought seemed so humbling to me….Reema smiled to herself. Maybe there would be more romance in the world and less heart breaks if cupid were allowed a few more candies. The cute bundle gets too busy stamping around and getting scolded up by her than shoots.
Mark…I thought….maybe Mark and me fell in love when cupid shot in all his anger. He was probably slapped by Helen and…shhhhooot….!!! He shot angrily at both of us....one anger arrow hit Mark and the other own hit me! Mark and I were a humble result of cupid’s angry shooting exercise. Or maybe…..we were both angry tears of cupid. I closed my eyes hard and squeezed out my tears trying to think of something different.
Yes, now they rang the doorbell and a tall colored man answered the bell. Foreigners were not uncommon in this side of the city. The kid looked so much like him….I knew the celestial cupid showed some artistry here – they were quite a twosome. The woman was a brunette with classy features…..with a few signs of aging. But she still retained her waif-like feel. He was the broad-chested tall colored man while she was waif-like…..not quite petite but delicate. She had a heedful of brown hair that bounced as she walked.
The man took the kid from her arms and she would have thought he grabbed it if I had failed to notice his toothy smile under their bright white focused light at the door. They went in and the door closed. They will really have a bash with the kid…looked like the kid was just 3-years old. Maybe there will be nothing of that sort…they are tired and hit deep slumber as soon as they go to bed. I never thought my imagination can get so bad.
I am sure mom will invite the couple for dinner and I can have a real close look at them. Mom always invited the new arrivals to the colony home. The silent night passed on and her mind went into a rampage of incoherent thoughts…..like pearls dropping all scattered on a silky royal-bed. Reema looked through her window across her street again and found their door closed. The moon is half-hidden and coy behind a shred of cloud. Up there on the Palmyra tree beside ‘cupid’s’ house, a lonely cuckoo squeaked away its blues.
Sun filtered through the window and Reema’s hair shone..... all strewn across the pillow. Her neck seems stiff. I released the cramp controlling a scream and ambled out of the bed room….banged at the bean bag in the drawing hall ahead. There is something hazy near the TV, some elf-like creature…something round and brownish. She forced her eyelids open and looked right down before the TV. There is a plump kid that smiles at her, its firmly squatted on the floor with his knees flapping slowly with excitement at some local TV show! He is the watchman’s kid and of late their TV is in bad shape! Reema flashed a wry smile at him and walked on to the balcony through kitchen.
Mom calls out from the kitchen, “Reema dear, Rahul is coming to India. He called up at 7 O’clock today. Both Ragini and Nikki too are coming with him. They are going to spend a week with us. It’s going to be sometime next month.” Reema remembered when Nikki came a year ago. The kid kept washing everything she could find right from her soft pink ball to her kiddy wrist watch. She would whine, “its dusty…the ball….the pen is dusty, daddy!” Then she runs to the tap and drums in the balcony, drops her things with a plop on the water drum and clean them feverishly.
That day she came, the whole of the neighborhood in the colony knew a kid-in-a-bright-magenta-coat-and-black-skirt was home for lunch with us and doing some stunts at the tap. It left our confused maid Manju asking if there is no dust in America or did it drive away all the dust into the ocean ‘near-by’. All the dust sure does goes somewhere and we sure know where it all goes; it goes to some poor folks across the globe thought Reema lying in the bathtub brimming with fragrant bubbles. “Don’t you speak English!” “Go find another job sweetie!”….then one day a ruthless male voice spoke from the other end, “I want to speak to someone who speaks English now!” That was it and she decided to throw in the towel. She would never again wear those head phones. Now even as she bathed in her spruced up suave bathroom, there are lots of young ‘brown people’ round the city getting the rubbish heaped on them in various call centers.
She put an arrogant foot up forcefully that clutched the rim of the tub splashing some soap foam with a plop as she thought of the day she decided to call it quits! Mom called out again, “What was the noise…are you alright Reema? Any problem?”, she mumbled a wee-bit louder to her father, “ Shyam, I have been asking you to clean up the bath room floor for a week now….it’s so slippery!” “Nothing mom!” she shouted out with her shrill voice.
Anyway, every other person….err…voice she spoke to on the other end was out-of-job at the….err…call center. Anyway, it is time for office, for a real office where real brains work and not just trained persuading voices in a labyrinth of bays and glass cabins. She got up from the tub to move on.
“Reema! There is a call for you!” called mom from the other room.
Reema rushed in her towels. She heard a husky boyish voice from the other and she immediately knew hoe it was. It is Ranith – he would not just let go of me she thought. She was regretting running into him in a random cyber chat room and more so for giving away her contact number.
He spoke from the other end with a certain craving in his voice that gave her creeps.
“Can you try and make it. All are invited for the party. It is Cascade Inn and it would be nice to have you.”
Anyway, she wanted to stay home and take an off today. It was a Saturday and she decided that she will be home early from the party. “Alright, I will be there”, she said trying to sound pleasant. She quickly called office and got her leave.