October 20, 19.00
The next thing I knew was the ringing of the phone.
I sat up drowsily, reaching for the monster. The time display on my clock was seven. Not Mom, then. Someone from work…?
‘Hullo?’ I mumbled into the receiver.
The voice that came back was loaded with static, crackling, barely audible.
Something in her voice told me something was wrong. She sounded muffled, speaking in hushed tones.
‘I’m….’ the rest was a rush of static. I looked at the phone receiver, tugged at the cord to see if the problem was on my side. ‘…stuck here’
‘Jen, I can’t hear you’
I heard her move the phone around. More static. ‘Stupid damn….’ she murmured.
The phone crackled once more, then silence.
I sighed, frustrated. Wherever Jen’s poor street-dweller girl lived, there was no range.
I got out of bed, unable to get back to sleep. Down in the kitchen, I stared at the TV for a few futile minutes then decided my mind was on patrol somewhere else. I spared the empty cupboards and the unappetizing loaves of bread an accusing glance then got down on my knees to check in the lower cupboards for stashes of pickles and banana chips Mom usually left for me. She had come to visit a week back. There ought to be something, which I had looked over, having been busy the whole of last week.
I found chips and mango pickles. Hardly a dinner substitute, but I didn’t eat much.
I ate in front of my laptop, frowning as I addressed my business e-mails. Mom called at eight, and freaked out listening to what I was eating.
‘Can’t you make rice? Put it in a cooker with water, and let it cook, then drain off the water- ’
‘Ma, I’m knee deep in work here. I don’t have time for little white grains.’
‘At least make a dosa or something…I swear you’ll get ulcers or something…where’s Jen? Don’t you two usually grab something to eat together?’
‘Jen’s working’ my frown deepened as I said this. ‘, Weird. She doesn’t usually stay out this late’
‘I’ll call her up and tell her to bring you something when she comes by. There’s that advantage of living in the same neighborhood as your fiancée’ she said, amusement in her voice.
‘Hmm, yeah. For sure’
She hung up after reminding me to pay my bills, lay off the sugar, go to bed early, check my alarm for the morning, wash the curtains, do the laundry and brush my hair properly. The last comment got me smiling. Mom kept telling me my hair was growing all over the place. It was thick and dense and touched my neck. Funny, because both herself and Dad were thin-haired.
After she hung up, I devoured some of my hidden sweet hoard, and with the sugar in my bloodstream, made a few awkward business calls. As I talked to a particularly annoying Mr. Singh, I noticed a scraping coming from the back door.
‘As I was saying…the ordered files were sent up, signed, sealed and delivered’
‘I’m sorry Mr. Singh, I just can’t find them anywhere’ I said earnestly, walking towards the door.
Must be the goddamned neighbor’s cat, I thought irately.
‘But it was sent up! It’s your *beep* mistake, your *beep* office has no *beep* idea of how much *beep* trouble we had to go through to get you those *beep* files!’
I winced at each of the expletives.
‘I’ll have to ask you to speak politely, Mr. Singh’ I said coolly.
‘Stuff your *beep* politeness in the trash!’
‘Thank you, Mr. Singh’, I said in a wintry voice. ‘, We won’t be needing your services again. Your service termination letter should arrive by Wednesday’
‘Service what – ?’
I hung up.
My phone calls were proving very eventful these days. The scratching at the door was growing worse.
‘Stupid darn cat’
I pulled open the door.
‘Hullo?’ I called, stepping out into the darkness. I could see the dilapidated shed behind the house and the unused well. The house was old; it had belonged to a family for years before they sold it out claiming pennilessness.
There was a crescent moon in the sky. Somehow, I’d always loved the moon. My mother kept telling me I was crazy, and discouraged my frequent waltzes into the night. Standing here, I felt the same innate nature rise to the surface. I would like to just walk off. Just throw away my shoes and walk off barefoot into whatever the twilight may bring.
The phone rang again.
‘It’s me, Jenny’
‘Yeah, where are you, Jen?’
‘I’m at home. Listen, I want to talk to you’
‘You’re talking. I thought we were going out for dinner?’
‘Chris, could you come over here?’
I frowned. ‘I guess. What’s this about?’
‘I’ll tell you when I see you’, she said in a mysterious sort of voice.
‘Okay…’ I sang, ending the call. Funny.