Pen in mid air, she was discussing the merits of the new classification of the hair oil that there were to launch in a week, when the Blackberry rang. Annoyed she looked at the screen. Darsh calling. Her mute phone vibrated on the table as her juniors discreetly began to peer into their laptops, knowing by her look that this was not going to go well.
Sighing, she excused herself, as she got out of the chair with the vibrating instrument clutched tightly in her hand. Knuckles white with the intensity of the grip, she could feel the blood rushing to her face. 45 seconds is all it had taken. 45 seconds for her focus and clarity to be replaced with rage and uncontrollable irritation.
Even as she hit the green button on the phone, she knew she was going to sound snappish, hassled and nowhere close to the warm person her colleagues and friends knew her as. True to her word, she didn’t even bother saying “hey” jumping straight to a fatigued “ya” instead.
And Prince charming did not disappoint
Where is the rice? You know it’s the weekend and there is no rice, I have just woken up and am so hungry and there is nothing to eat. What yaar, how can you not have organized something this simple before heading off to the meeting. Pathetic, even the basics are a struggle around you, the person running the house cant even get that much done, what all am I to do, all you care about is work, and that silly hair oil that no one shall buy….….
She did only one thing. Took the phone in her hand, stared at it, put it on the loudspeaker, took it to the empty meeting room, left it on the table put the do not disturb sign on the door and walked off. Seeing Flori at the printer she asked her, to hover around the phone and say hmmmm, for fun whenever she felt like it, disconnect the call in exactly 21 minutes and get her back the phone.
Its ok, Flori was her personal assistant, and they were the gatekeepers of each other’s dirty secrets.
A wicked smile played on her lips. She imagined him raving and ranting. Knew that he could drone on for a long time, at least a quarter of an hour, and that’s when he wanted the apologies to flow. Usually after that it was her que to mouth…Honey I am so sorry, this shall never happen again, or at the very least an emotional atyachar conversation of what this meant for them, where they were, blah blah blah.
She was grinning now. Imagining his voice rising, his frustration making him break the vase on the table as to each shrieked accusation he got a constant “hmmmmm” from Flori. Hahaha, suddenly the day looked interesting as she imagined the hearty laugh Flori and she would have at TGIF over happy hours this evening.
She went back to the meeting, distractedly downloaded instructions to the juniors, her earlier concentration all but forgotten. Grudgingly she mentally acknowledged that she had just ruined their weekend but scoffed at the meek acceptance with which they hurried to assure her that it was not a problem, and they were more than inspired to get this done, the learning would be immense, this is soooo interesting … yada yada yada .
Sheep! New generation sheep is what they were and sheep were reared for delicious evening meals. That is exactly what she was doing to them. ..
She smiled. Thanking them profusely. Told them they were her favorites. Gagged as she saw 1000 watts bulbs go off in their eyes. The presentation would now be PERFECT!. And for a cruel twitch, informed them that she would be non-contactable the remainder of the weekend.
BITCH. She saw a mental image of Merly Streep from Devil Wears Prada flash in her mind and secretly kicked herself for being suuuuuuuuuuuuuch a good replica! Well Done Girlie.
She was no push over, no doormat, she was a cold calculating careerholic. Serious Ladder Climber.
As the sheep scurried out of her room, she sat and fiddled with her mouse pad. It was futile, her mind was too scattered to get anything constructive done. Drawing the menthol ciggie from her bag, she took the lighter and headed for the stair case, half hoping that Shri would be sitting there holding forth over the Sheep Kingdom he seemed to inspire instantaneous fan following for, and half hoping she would be permitted to smoke in peace.
Ah well, beggars can’t be choosers. This job made sworn anti smoking, cancer activists develop chimneys in their chest. She sniggered as she remembered the first time Flori, had borrowed a cigarette from her. Poor Flori, the innocent doe eyed creature had become the snarling PMSing Pomeranian in 2 months flat. Well, good for her, atleast she no longer was the targeted personal assistant for the remaining male partners to “accidently” collide into(read as press into her anyhow) at corridors.
Whoa, this is strange. Shri ALONE? Hmm how come?
Hey there, whats up? the sheep-dom decided to abandon the lord and master? She asked.
Oh shut up already he growled.
Huh? This was unusual, Shri upset? Plonking herself next to him, she silently lit her cigarette and let the smoke uncoil her insides. Smoky silence smoothened both their jangled nerves as she gently nudged him with her elbow.
Kya hua? Itna gussa?
Shri distractedly flung the still lit stub, watching it burn itself to death. He looked at her interlacing his fingers with his and simply said.
Patta Nahin. Don’t know but something is amiss. No its not Prickface partner, this time nor the moaning cow wife, there is something far deeper that is amiss.
Hmm, she said. Not probing further. As much as she liked Shri, today her head was clogged already with everything and she did not have the space for this. Feeling guilty for not being warmer, she pinched herself and said
Oye, drinks 7 pm TGIF? Game?
Ya, whatever when all else fails might as well let the poison prevail……….
All right then, laters.
She dusted her pants, and moved back to the air-conditioned morgue of an office. Sat down and saw the BB sitting innocently on her desk. 5 sms’s it dutifully informed her.
SMS 1- Darsh
SMS 2- Darsh
SMS 3- Darsh
SMS 4- Airtel
SMS 5- Darsh.
SMS 1 - Delete unopened
SMS 2- Delete unopened
SMS 3- Opened. ………… 1 line- “I regret the day our paths collided” --- Delete
SMS 4- Airtel- opened and read twice. The only non manipulative sms she would probably get all day
SMS 5- ……………. Open/delete? She pondered, hesitating. Knowing the tears were moments away. Oh well, he did send this last and after a time gap, maybe he was apologizing. ……. OPEN. ……. “Don’t expect me to be home waiting for you to return. I am not your wife AND unlike some people I know my place”
She flung the phone across the table and fell back in her chair. Bizzare how the world simply carried on as hers insisted on dissolving like the biggest iceberg placed in Africa. LORD. She was exhausted, tired and needed the luxury to breathe
You have MAIL, the laptop screeched. Ting ting a ting, the BB beeped, the SMS beep following soon after. Arrrrgghhh.
Slamming down the laptop, she switched off her phone, picked up her bags and marched out. Told the receptionist to ask Flori to call her in an hour and to tell everyone else she had left for the day. Entered the lift, sunglasses on, car keys out, she wasted no time on niceties before zooming out of the parking lot.
Fuck this shit, she was not going to let that idiotic man ruin her afternoon. As the female divas crooned in her car, she sang along blasting the men to the dregs of the orbiting satellites of Jupiter.
Much calmer, she switched on her BlackBerry and called Shri.
Hey… listen I am having a fucking rotten day, and the cold chamber was not helping. I just left 15 min back, wanna join me sing the woes away? Been ages since we drank the afternoon off for no good reason
Fuck. You are my angel. Am leaving to, think Prickface has gone to kiss some political ass at the Taj, so as long as we avoid that area am cool. Where do I meet you?
TGIF it was, 4 pm both sat looking at each other through the tallest LIT’s. They knew the rule no serious conversation allowed till drink 1 and drink 2 had been downed. Slurping the last of the ultimate LIT she sat back, feeling the buzz proceed on its journey from her toes to her insides.
Shri was still all morbid, gloomily staring into his drink with such intensity that she could not help herself but burst out into peals of laughter. Holding the table to keep herself from falling off, she laughed and laughed and Shri’s increasing perplexed look only made her laugh more.
Sooorrry, sorry, I don’t know why I am laughing, its not you, I am not being insensitive, but hahahaaa, look at us, sad assed progressive 30’s year olds with nothing better to do than drink the tragedies of our lives, We are such losers..
Her laughter and sincerity behind it was so contagious that even Shri loosened up and began smiling.
Ya man, since when did we become the ‘oh my life is so serious’ kinda people. That was supposed to be the old farting pot bellied uncle driving his Maruti, at 35km/hour while we the whiz kids were supposed to zoom by on our high flying speed machines, with delicious artifacts of yummy people strewn in the back seat.
And just look at us now, zooming at 20 from the office cubicle to the mess we call home. .. Pathetic.
To Loosers! They hooted as the next round of drinks arrived at the table, large glasses promising happiness at the end of the straw.
Buzzing contentment, she grabbed her drink, managing to spill half on her shirt. The sticky liquid drenched her shirt, as she half attempted to rescue the mess on her chest. Abandoning the futile effort to clean up, she tossed aside the tissue focusing on slurping down bliss instead.
Shri leaned over, shifting the drinks carefully away. Across the table towards her, he towered over her. Getting closer...
Surprised she looked at him closing in, his arm reaching out towards her. She looked into his eyes, he giving her an amused look, and she smiled. Her lazy hand of its own motion let its fingers caress his cheek, an impish look trailing her smile.
Shri just smiled at her, as her threw the piece of tissue on her face.
Oh! Tissue.. aaah ….oh .. fuck
Embarrassed to the core, What had she been thinking? GAWD, she quickly tried to change the mood.
So guess, what my darling Prince Charming’s romantic touch for the day was?
Shri, sat there braced for the onslaught that was to begin. Knowing that behind the twisted story, which would be narrated with some wit and humour there lay a lot of unconcealed pain. He watched her animated face as she gesticulated some hap hazard details about Rice or Food and House.. some crap. The details escaped him, all he knew was that this women was in pain.
A swan. That’s it. He had been trying to fathom what it is that she reminded him of. Traces of the ugly duckling the story he had as a kid came back to him. Something about the duck, not fitting in because she was actually a swan, and then flying off to meet the other swans… a vivid picture of a bird soaring high was all he could remember from his nursery rhyme book, a vivid blue sky and an elated bird.
He smiled, maybe her life ended up that way. But for now she was defiantly role playing as the ugly duck. Picturing her as a quacking duck made him smile. The aloof cold calculating bitch of a swan she was at work, unapproachable by almost everyone. One ciggie at the staircase and the swan became the nervous insecure girl trying to hold it all together and remain true to herself in a world where only few choices seemed to be hers alone. As for that moron she called a hubbyy…. hahaa
OUCH, STOP THAT! He shrieked as he realized she was literally biting his finger giving him smoldering looks
I am telling you about the absolutefuckingloutely assholic husband of mine and you are laughing? What the fuck is so funny Mr. I have my life all sorted with my cow wife person you?
Uff nothing baba. Just thinking of something. Anyway, so let me get this straight your man has left the house for a rice craving? May be we should buy him a one way ticket to Vietnam, he can get all the rice he wants all the time.
Hahaaa they both went off into one more round. The idea of baboon Darsh, wearing a Vietnamese hat sitting in the middle of a rice paddy field surrounded by the lithe girls all shoving rice in his face was just too much, LIT spluttering from her nose, she imagined him gone.
Saucer Eyed she looked at Shri, almost jumping from her chair. She squealed gibberish with super enthusiasm… bouncing on her chair.
Shriiii…..I am going to leave him. I mean technically he is the one that’s gone.. but I mean for like good he can be gone. Like actually be made to sit in Vietnam eating rice… hahahaa! Wow I can make him Gooo..this is uber cool
What? What the hell are u talking about? What about the marriage, kids, commitment, he is not that bad nonsense you keep muttering about?
Leaping with new fire, she crawled across to his side of the table. Snuggling into the couch, she leaned into his ear and drunk whispered, I know, all that is fine, but Shri, you know he is really a STUPID MAN, like dumb. Cant be with dumb people Shri, they are like donkeys. I am not a donkey, he makes me go numb. I am going to call my travel agent and send him to Vietnam
Shri laughed at her innocent confession. Patted her very drunk head and drew her in with his arm. She snuggled next to him and sleepily drank from her massive glass. By now he could not even remember why he had been sulking, just knew that it was a huge thing that had been bothering him.
Buzzed, warm and amused he tried in vain to restrict her from ordering the next round of drinks. Bulldozed into submission he held her as she drank like a little child drinking her rationed 1 coke a week.
I KNOW! THIS IS WHAT WE SHOULD DO……She leaped from his arms standing straight up, eyes shining, barefoot and gleaming with a brainwave that he knew smelled of DISASTER
Shri, Shri… this is it. Rice that bastard wanted and Rice is what we are going to give him . Please please do this with me….,
Do what? He said very slowly.. this was bad, once before she had gone on revenge mode and man it was mean blood letting
Bending over the table, her pretty ass making for a delicious frame in the corner of his mind she explained her very devious plan.
Laughing inspite himself, he watched her charm the TGIF manager into agreeing to her strange request. As she returned to the table her anticipation was palpable. A tigress waiting to be unleashed.
In 10 minutes 5 waiters came armed with huge takeaway bags. They were so heavy that they needed help to take them to the car. His eyes bulged as he saw the bill. Rs 15000.. where what? They had bought 5000 rupees worth of RICE???
She insisted on swiping Darsh’s add on credit card to clear the bill and half skipped and hopped out of the door. She paused at the door, clanging the TGIF horn madly, giggling at her own madness. He helped miss drunk on high heels into his car, tipping the amused waiters as they placed the bags in the car.
Drunk instructions got them to her place. Thankfully Babboon man’s car was missing, the guard saluted her as she ordered them to get the bags to the house.
They entered the house, she flung her shoes headed to the bar, poured them both stiff drinks, before proceeding to head to the bathroom. Emerging in her shortest shorts, she ripped apart bag one and holding it before him.. waited for him to begin
Shri cocked his eyebrows .. aah what exactly is the plan your highness?
She did not answer, she did. Took a fistful of the cooked steamed rice and threw it to the ceiling letting it fall all over the beige spotless carpet. DESTROY ….. LETS GIVE THE MAN RICE.
Freaking madness is what the next hour was all about. Dancing to wild music, slugging down the vodka Shri assisted the highness in destroying every inch of the apartment, she had called home till this morning.
Rice was everywhere, starting with his shirt pockets, squashed on his Gucci suit, lining his underwear, carefully worked into his laptop, inside his dvds, in his dvd player, sticky rice coating the pillows, the floor the rugs, the chargers, the remote was left drenched in milk, rice lined the bathroom, one kilo was emptied into the flush, the couch was coated, sleek lamps decorated with rice balls, his playstation and Gautier furniture ruined with her barefoot tribal dance done to smash the rice on which some residue wine was added to get that hint of colour…
The house was destroyed, every corner and inch ripped, trodden and dismantled. Rice; the apartment reeked of it. Looking like a cloud had gifted it with a very special snow storm. In the middle of all this stood the duck swan, in her shorts standing there with the last lump of rice, staring at her wedding picture on the living room wall.
She gingerly walked up to the frame, stood before it stared into it.
Took a handful of rice and made it into goo with her fingers
Delicately almost piously, she smeared his face with rice
With immense concentration, she then coated her bridal picture, covering the entire frame, till nothing but a white mess was left.
She stood staring at that for a while. Turned around and looked at him. Smiled.
Walked to him and hugged him tight, reached up to his ears and whispered
As they descended the building, she reached for her BB and sent one text
Dear Darsh……… Bon Appetite