Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One evening at work, parallel universes and the pantry guy...

"One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason."

Oscar Wilde ( The Critic as Artist, Part 2, 1891 )
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On an uneventful day at work, just when I'm about to pack my laptop and leave, my universe conspires against me... My boss, colleagues, friends and family are reminded of the fact that I'm at their disposal...

This is a series of unfortunate events that happened between 7:30 and 7:40 pm on that Wednesday evening... Disturbing my usual lack of occupation at work, and sending my thoughts spiralling into the inconsequential...

Boss: Tanmay is the calibration report out? (Err... No!) Make sure you send it by the end of the day.

I step out of the room, cursing my luck. I should have compiled it by now!

Unoccupied Colleague (wandering in the corridors): Dude, let's go for a smoke? That chick from Tower-A must be downstairs right now!

I wonder why he ALWAYS want to smoke??? I say no thanks and continue walking through the corridor towards the washroom. I enter the loo and run into a super focused fellow team mate.

Super focused fellow team mate: Hey man, could you please conduct five more assessments? Enter the data into the sheet I'm sending you.

Suddenly going to the loo is off my list of convenient hideouts at work. I say,"Sorry buddy, need to get home early today. Family scene."

I leave the washroom thinking I better finish that report and get the hell out of here before someone else corners me.

On my way back to my room, my cell rings.

Phone Call (Drunk Friend): Tanmay! Where are you??? (Err... Work!) Get your ass to TC right now! Ice is begging to be broken!

I want to scream Yes! Yes! Y-e-s-s-s-s! just like those women in the porn movies. Instead, I politely take a raincheck, knowing well that I had better meet my girlfriend today or she'll kill me or dump me or something. I walk on with this scary thought lingering in my mind.

Master Trainer (In the corridor): Tanny please come to my session. There's a teachback I want you to sit through.

I repeat the family excuse. After all worklessness and girlfriends come first.

I walk on.

Random Ex-Trainee (Outside my room) : Hey Tanmay! Long time... what's happening? Listen... I wanted to clarify something, is now a good time?

Oh God! Why? W-H-Y? Why Now???

My patience is running out and I snap at him. "Tomorrow! I'm busy right now!"

I enter my room. I realise while opening the door that my fist is clenched. A very sweet fellow colleague is standing facing me, as if the forces had informed her of my time of entry.

Very Sweet Fellow Colleague: Aur ji Tanmay ji... ki haal chaal? I just came to work. How are you? How's your girlfriend?

I smile and reply that me, my girlfriend and the entire cosmos is doing just fine. Inside of me I feel like taking a razor sharp knife and waving it in everybody's eye, especially those who can afford to make useless polite conversation in this time of crisis!

My phone rings, again. Mom.

Mom: Tanu please be home by nine today, you know Masi's leaving for London tomorrow and she wants to see you and your brother before she goes. And pay the landline bill on your way back please, it's overdue.

(Thought: Err... sorry Ma, not today! I'd much rather meet my girlfriend!)

I tell her I'm working late and stuck in office till midnight. She sighs in disappointment and hangs up without saying bye.

As I make myself comfortable at my workstation, the schedule incharge get's up and decides to waste some more of my precious time.

Schedule Incharge (My Team): Tanmay make sure you're in by twelve noon tomorrow, we've got lot's of assessments lined up.

(Thought: Yeah right! F*&^$%$(&**%%#$#@... I'm taking leave tomorrow... Naa na na naa na)

I give him a thumb's up sign which he doesn't really acknowledge. The sarcasm on my face might have something to do with it.

"She" walks in... (The one who's thoughts occupy most of my work hours...)

Hot colleague who thinks I'm worth it: Hey... dinner???

(Thought: Can we just have sex on friday night instead? I'm caught up in a mindless, brain numbing activity... the one they pay me for... so that I can buy you alcohol and get you drunk enough to sleep with me.)

Girlfriend calling. I disconnect the phone, almost panicking. I regain my composure and entertain the thought once again before answering the hot colleague.

The words that come out of my mouth: "No, I'm buried in work. Maybe tomorrow gorgeous! Sorry!"

She leaves, looking disappointed. My attention moves to the vibrating Nokia 6600 that my left hand is holding.

Girlfriend calling again. GIRLFRIEND CALLING!

I answer, sounding apologetic, readying myself for the humiliation and insults.

Girlfriend: How dare you cut my call! Who were you with?

(Thought: Err, those who we don't speak about!)

I say I was talking to my boss. My boss looks up at me in disbelief. I wink at him and carry on talking. I tell her I'll be half an hour late. She hangs up on me, cursing.
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A disappointed mother, an angry girlfriend, two colleagues plotting how they would politley decline when I would approach them for my work and a boss who was waiting only for me to send him the data I should've sent an hour ago. Add to that my drunk friend, whose place I could've been at had I planned my appointments better!

I was fucked. One way or another.

I decided to calm my nerves, so I did the next best thing to having sex... I called up the pantry and ordered some food... Maggi to be precise.

I restarted my laptop. For some inexplicable reason, I created a playlist with songs from bands like "Cradle of Filth" and "Cannible Corpse."

Once the music was blaring in my headphones, I started compiling the data. The schedule guy, the sweet colleague and my boss all went out of the room.

I was alone. I took the opprtunity to voice my thoughts... saying "Bhenchod...", stretching it as much as possible.

I resumed my work.

In between typing a formula in the excel sheet, shaking my head hysterically to "Six feet under" and cursing my luck, I heard a noise. It must've been loud considering the volume in the headphones had been set to maximum.

I turned my head, only to find the remnants of another disaster. The two plates of maggi I had ordered had found their way to the floor.

I felt my heart sink.

Such was the magnitude of disappointment, that I almost didn't notice the pantry guy. I noticed him only when he made an attempt to get up from the floor. Man, he really should have chosen a better day to screw up!

Anyway, I motioned for him to get out and get housekeeping to take care of the mess he had blessed me with. I don't think he heard me, because he just stood there smiling helplessly for close to 20 seconds or so.

I turned to him in a swift motion indicative of aggression. He asked me if he should get two more plates. Now I lost it. I shouted at him, and told him he could feed as much maggi to the floor as he wanted, but I wasn't going to have any of it!

The smile vanished from his face. He left the room in a hurry, not paying any attention to the maggi on his clothes and hands. He was limping.

I continued to work. A couple of housekeeping guys came in and cleaned up the mess.

I had about ten minutes of work left when I got up from my work station to stretch my back. I was about to get back to my chair when I heard a knock on the door. I looked through the glass door to find the pantry guy standing right outside, with a half-smile on his face. I motioned for him to come in. He disappeared for around 20 seconds and came in. He was holding two plates of maggi. The half-smile had now become a shy grin.

Before I could say a word, he had carefully placed the maggi on my workstation. Then he turned to me, his smile became even wider (something I thought wasn't possible given the small mouth), and he held out his hand.

I shook his hand and he said "Sorry Sir, my fault!" (In English)

I smiled at last, trying to fathom why I was touched by his gesture.

His next words were in a language he was more comfortable with,"Sir hume maloom hai aap naraaz ho mujhse. Aapka kaam itna tension vaala hota hai, upar se meine maggi gira diya. Sorry."

"Arre nahi yaar, aise mat bol... tu to sharminda kar raha hai!", I said, cutting him short.

I looked at him in the eye and for some reason I had a rush of emotion. Then there were random thoughts. I think I wanted to burst out crying. I wanted to tell him that he was important too. I wanted to tell him that I respected him more than I would ever respect myself. I wanted to tell him that the server is greater than the servee. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him one day it would all be ok (Something like a Jaadu Ki Jhappi). I wanted to tell him that I'd teach him how to read and write, and then maybe he could get a job, a real job I mean.

Instead I asked,"So where are you from?"

"Bihar Sir, Madhubani."

"Arre, phir to hum bhai hein, mein Bhagalpur se hoon!", I replied, feeling a sudden ease after having found something in common with him.

The shy grin emerged.

"Aur, dilli mein kaise? Kahaan tak padhe ho?", I asked.

"Sir, M.A. kiya hai Sanskrit mein. Dilli aaya hoon taaki bachhe achhe school mein padhe. Vo jagah safe nahin hai na, isliye..."

(Thought: M.A. in Sanskrit??? This guy is more educated than I am!!! Fuck!!!)

"Arre waah, yaar tu to mujhse zyaada padha likha hai...", I said, backslapping him, appealing to him to be at ease with my presence.

He continued to smile at me, standing almost motionless, staring at me. I was wondering what to say next when a realisation hit me. In the middle of being preoccupied and emotionally upturned, I had forgotten to pay him.
I gestured for him to move aside and went to my work station. I picked up the wallet, which was lying next to my laptop.

"Kitna ho gaya? 4 Maggi ka 60 Rupees na?", I asked him, in an attempt to confirm. Also indicating that I was willing to pay for all the damages as well.

"Aap 30 rupees de do mujhe Sir. Jo gir gaya tha uske paise aap kyon doge. Vo hum dekh lenge", came a swift reply.

I was a little puzzled and I guess it showed on my face. He gave me a reassuring smile as I handed him the thirty rupees. He took the money, and left the room after saying thanks. As he was leaving the room I called out to him, "Bhaiya... Pakka na?", feeling sudden guilt about him having to pay 30 bucks out of his meagre pay.

"Are Sir, don't worry! Apni setting hai...", he said with a laugh and closed the door behind him.
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I finished my report. I checked my watch, 8:55 pm. I had to meet my girlfriend in five minutes, and there was no way I was going to make in time even after having rescheduled. Surprisingly, I wasn't angry, irritated, worked up... nothing! I guess I had resigned to my fate.

I called her up and told her that I would make it by 9:30 pm. She said she didn't want to see me ever again. I laughed, in helplessness and amusement, and she hung up on me for a second time that day.

I sat there staring into space. It was then that my thoughts spiralled into the inconsequential.

The first wave of thought was about the strange and predictable ways of the world (geography notwithstanding). How certain fundamental aspects of existence would never change. How there would always be the rich and the poor, the good and the bad, the alpha and the omega. Always.

The second wave of thought was mostly in what ifs and how could I have... I thought about my state of oblivion, and how most of my mental comfort had its roots in the ignorance that stemmed from it.

I thought about those who I care about, love, respect, work with, want to be with. And how their expectations of me had wrecked my nerves a little while ago.

I thought about how each person is a universe, including the pantry guy. There was so much to know and so much to learn about anyone at any given time in this world that it could overwhelm the google server a couple of times over. I was so intent on admiring the light being emitted from the stars in my universe that I overlooked the fact that it was me they were blinding.

My mind started giving up on me. I yawned. I wanted to go home, now. I packed my laptop, picked up my wallet and keys and headed straight out of office into the elevator lobby. I waited for about five minutes and finally got into an empty elevator.

On it's way down, the elevator stopped on the 4th floor. It was the pantry guy again, smiling as usual. I immediately rejected the thought that it was an omen.

There was an awkward silence in the six by six confines. We had exhausted all possible conversation in my bay before. I pretended to stare at the screen which indicates the floor and temperature. When the elevator gates opened, I stepped out. There was a rush right outside, a lot of people got in even though the lift was going to the basement first. I negotiated my way through the restless crowd.

As I walked on, the elevator gates closed, physically reinforcing the gap between our universes.
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Friday, August 25, 2006

A Love Story: The Final Chapter

"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie."

William Shakespeare
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I'm shocked!

"How do you know me?", I ask her.

"You were at that party... weren't you? The one at Khaitan House?"

"Y-yes... I was! Were you there too?", I ask.

"Ya, but I wish I hadn't gone..." She took another drag from the cigarette.

"Me too...", I say. I regret saying the words almost immediately after they come out.

We don't speak for the next two minutes. I'm a little uncomfortable with the silence so I look up at the sky, pretending to be in deep thought. The only thoughts that come to me are the ones I need to run most from.

"Walk me to my car? It's just round the corner", she instructs.

"How far?", I ask uncertainly. The thought of walking the street at 4:00 am with a woman I don't know is a little unnerving.

"It's ok, you don't have to", she says.

"No no... I mean if it's far I can drop you in my car. Why do you want to walk?"

"I feel like walking, do you mind? It's not more than a kilometer"

"Ok, let me lock my car." I run to my car, pull up the windows and lock it. I run back across the road, almost panting.

We walk.

"There it is...", she says, grabbing my hand.

I'm relieved.

She holds on to my hand till the time we reach the car. I don't sense any intention behind her doing so.

She leaves my hand to take out the car keys from her pocket. She unlocks her car and settles in to the drivers seat. She rolls down her window and says "Need a lift?"

"Yes. Of course." I smile and get into the car.

She drops me.

I get into my car and roll down my window.

"I hope you'll be ok?", I shout, hoping my voice reaches her despite the noise from the engines.
"Yes... I think I will." She smiles reassuringly. This time the smile is genuine.

I smile back. "Maybe I'll see you sometime, if fate permits..."

She doesn't reply.

Instead, she says "It was awefully brave of you... very few people can do what you did at the party tonight. I wish I could've done the same..."

Before I can reply, she drives off.

That's when I realise.

Ridhima! I tell myself. I should've guessed!
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The moment Radha realised it was Varun, the smile escaped her face. For a brief moment, both of them stood transfixed.

"H-hi... Varun", said Radha, trying to force the smile back on her face.

"Hi Radha! How've you been? Long time...", said Varun, almost confidently.

"Oh... I-I've been good... you tell me..."

If Radha had any short coming, it was her fear of confrontation. Earlier, on the phone, she had told Varun very categorically, and curtly, that she didn't want to see him. Now here, standing before him, she was at a complete loss for words.

She wanted to say so much. About disappointment and hatred, about being let down and left behind.

In this time of poetic silence, the cruel rhyme of anticipation, most people in the vicinity found themselves a convenient excuse to clear the area. Radha and Varun were alone at last, much to His relief and Her worry .

While they stood there staring at each other, the last six years of their lives flashed in front of them.

How they had met, the artist and his muse. The coffees, the movies, the concerts, the parties, the cocaine...
How they had loved. Passionately, aggressively, hungrily, sometimes hurriedly...
How they had lived. In each other's houses, hearts, lives, dreams...
And of course, how it had all fallen apart seven months ago in the September of 2005, the month Varun had left for Paris.

He had left her behind, hanging on to a promise. In the last seven months the promise had been broken, again, and again, and again. And each time he broke his promise, a piece of Radha's heart had broken along with it.

"A million little pieces is what you've left me with Varun! When I think of you I feel nothing but malice!", Radha shouted. This was sometime in January, the last time they had spoken before tonight.

"I think you better move on Radha, this is not likely to work out.", Varun had said in response to Radha's outburst. Varun's tragic flaw was his inability to handle accusation. He too was an escapist, but of a different kind.

But today, 19th of March 2006, was going to be different. Atleast that's what Varun hoped, considering he'd come back to Delhi for good, just so that he could fall in love with her all over again. A chance which had outraged his parents, and many of his artist friends.

Varun spoke first, "Let's take a walk. Please. That's all I ask for."

He held out his hand, just like he used to. A tear surfaced on Radha's left cheek. She put her hand in his, and they walked. They walked for five minutes, hand in hand. Neither said a word.

Varun, as always, broke the silence.
"So I hear you've found yourself a boyfriend Radha."

"You're the one who asked me to move on."

"I know."

"Then why are you asking me?"

"Just... so what's he like, this R-a-h-u-l?", he asked teasingly.

"Oh, he's nice... he's sensitive, and he takes good care of me..."

"Nice?", Varun said, cutting her short. "I thought you hated nice!", he said in the same teasing tone.

"What are you smirking for, I know the chick you've been fucking since you got back. She's such a bimbette, it's not even funny. Isn't she here? Aren't you going to introduce me?"

"Hmmm, do I sense bitterness and hatred in your voice?", he almost laughed.

"So where is she???"

"Probably drunk, and making a fool of herself. After speaking to you I kind of told her to mind her own business. I've always hated women who can't handle alcohol." Varun sighed.
"Anyway! Back to you and me!"

"Oh come on Varun...", Radha said defensively. "My fascination with the artistic, the eccentric, and you ended that day, when you told me to move on."

"Really...?, he said, looking at her straight in the eye.

There was a moment of silence, and then one of what Radha thought was madness on her part.

They kissed.

Radha pulled away and said, "I-I can't... you don't understand..."

"Shhhhh...", Varun said, placing his index finger on her trembling lips. "I'm here now..."

"B-but Rahul..."

"I'm never going back Radha... never! I mean I'm here for good!"

There was silence again.

"You promise?", Radha asked, even though she knew every word he had just said was true. She knew him better than she knew herself.

They kissed again.

For the next hour or so, they spoke... kissing, hugging, touching at every opportunity.

"Wanna dance?", she whispered.

"Yes", he replied. "But right here."

They embraced, feeling each other's body, and fell into a slow, intense waltz. There is something about dancing without music that only lovers know.

They must have danced for about 30 seconds when they heard clapping. When Varun and Radha looked around, they saw friends and acquaintances cheering them on. They knew their's was not any love story, they were not just anybody.

From the corner of her eye, in the distance, Radha saw Rahul. There were tears in her eyes but he was smiling and clapping, just like everyone else. She went up to him and stood there, half guilty and half pleading.

"I knew", Rahul said. "I had always known.", still managing to smile a little. "I-I want you to be happy..."

"Thank You", she said, holding his wrist with both her hands. Then again, this time almost whispering, "Thank You!"

She ran back to Varun and embraced him.

While Radha was running towards him, Varun gave a thumb's up sign to Rahul, expressing gratitude.

Rahul replied with a same gesture and a smile.

Varun thought of his bimbette. He looked around, but he couldn't spot her anywhere. His attention went back to Radha, and he didn't think of anyone, or anything for the rest of the night.

"Poor Ridhima... she must be heartbroken!", Rahul heard someone say in the background.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Love Story: Chapter Two

"All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire."

Artistotle
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She is sitting cross legged on the edge of the pavement. Looking down, fingers carelessly holding a cigarette. There's a can of coke or pepsi or whatever next to her. There is also a packet of cigarettes. I can tell she's absorbed in deep thought because the cigarette hasn't been ashed in a while. Or has she fallen off to sleep like that?

I think I've been staring at her for hours when she suddenly looks up. We make eye contact for one brief moment and she looks away. I can tell she has cried. I can also tell that she is more beautiful than most women I've seen in my life. The streetlight is giving her away to a total stranger.

I continue staring. She's not looking at me now, deliberately I think. The thought of reaching out, maybe rescuing her crosses my mind. I contemplate getting out of the car and going to speak to her. I feel a certain eagerness inside of me. Maybe I want to fall in love with her.

Whooosh!

I'm startled!

What happened???

Another car zips past me, this one is slower than the earlier one. The signal has changed to green.

I feel the need to make a split second decision. Rescue or escape? Confront or evade?

What the fuck am I thinking???

I'm drunk, very drunk. She's sitting there, almost motionless, on the side of the road at four in the morning. What if she's a prostitute? What if she's crazy? What is she's dying? What if she screams for help if I as much as go near her? If something goes wrong, no one will believe anything I have to say.

Sense prevails, but not for long. I zip off before the light turns red again, but for some reason take a U-Turn from the very next cut and turn right back. I stop my car just after the crossing, now on the other side of the road.

I light a cigarette, take a long drag and exhale. Trembling, with fear and anticipation, I get out of the car. I wait a moment befor I cross the road. I come within six feet of her and then I stop, waiting for her to notice my presence, or maybe because I suddenly find myself searching for the right words to say in a situation like this.

She looks up at me, her body tenses up.

"C-c-can I help you?" I say, clearing my throat.

"Yes", she says, almost confidently. Then she looks away again.

"Can I drop you somewhere?", I ask.

"Do you have a light?", she replies.

"Y-yes I do, in the car. B-but you can use my cigarette to light yours."

She picks up the packet of Malboro Reds and takes out the last, upturned cigarette.

"My lucky cigarette...", she smiles half-heartedly and holds out her hand, motioning for me to light it for her. I dutifully do so and hand it back to her, trying very hard not to look at the cleavage.

I ask her again,"Ma'am can I drop you anywhere?"

She evades my question again and asks me if I want a sip of beer. Before I reply she hands me the green coloured can. Hesitantly, I take a sip from the Heineken can. I can taste the bitterness that comes with warm beer. I say thanks and give it back to her.

She takes a long, long drag from her cigarette and exhales the smoke through her nose. She asks me to sit down. I adjust my jeans and settle down next to her.

I'm not prepared for what she is going to say next.

"I know you very well...", she says.
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Radha went to her brother's room, her final destination before any night of partying. She opened his drawer and took out two thousand rupee notes. She also left a note saying thanks.


Ever since her brother had landed that job with Goldman Sachs, her financial status had improved drastically. No more negotiating with Mom, no more pleading with daddy. All she had to do was open a drawer and leave a note!

Radha went back to her room one last time to pick up her cell phone and car keys. Carelessly, she put the pink motorola V3i into her back pocket without glancing at the screen. She really should have, but then again, she didn't know the future.

As she walked out of the front door of her apartment, she yelled "Bye!" to her parents who were watching some movie on the TV in the living room. They yelled back, but didn't turn their eyes away from the screen. The maid came and closed the door behind her.

Once in the car, a Baleno, Radha lit a cigarette. She heaved a huge sigh of relief after the first drag. She never smoked at home for fear of her parents finding out. If she got really desperate, she would go into her brother's loo and smoke with the exhaust on. With the cigarette lit and music turned on, she zipped off in the direction her destination. Once she reached the entrance of Chhatarpur Farms, she called up Sameera to confirm the directions once more. She cut the phone call and pressed the forward button of her system remote to change the track.

That's when her cellfone rang. A fourth, and perhaps last attempt from someone desperate to get in touch with her.

She looked at her phone screen. Recognizing the number, she smiled and opened the flap and answered in her characteristic style... "Hey handsome!"

"Hey! Where the f*** have you been???", answered Rahul, sounding near hysterical.

"I'm right here sweety, what's up? What's the matter?"

"No! Nothing! Was worried, that's all! Been trying to reach for almost one hour!"

"Awwe, how sweet!", she blushed.

"Achha I'm at the party right now but there's a slight crisis. I have to go and pick up Samarth from GK. His car's got a flat. I'll be back in forty five."

"No, wait for me! I'll be there in a jiffy, just wait five minutes. I wanna see you befor you go!"

"Ok, get here fast! Missing you!"

"Missing you too sweety, will be there ASAP! Mwah!"

She closed the flap of her phone and put the Baleno into first gear.

Her cellfone rang, again. This time it was Varun. She thought of not picking it up, but then answered anyway.

"Ya", she answered, almost curtly.

"I thought you'd be here by now, party princess!"

"I'll be there in five, but why do you want to know?"

"No... Just... Thought it would be nice to see you after so long... I was thinking maybe we could ummm..."

"I don't think I want to see you Varun.", she said cutting him short.

"Ok, have it your way...", replied Varun and hung up on her.

Radha reached Khaitan House, where the party was. After handing the keys to the valet incharge, she stepped in through the black iron gates. Rahul was standing there with someone she didn't know. He ran to her and hugged her, planting two long kisses on either cheek. She blushed. He then introduced his friend Karan to her. Radha and Karan exchanged pleasantries before the boys took her leave to go pick up Samarth.

She continued to walk from the gate to the house, a long one if it's a sprawling 4 acre Chhatarpur Farmhouse. She was caught up in hugs and kisses with the people she knew when some one tapped her on the shoulder. The tap was a little assertive, just enough to draw her attention away from the crowd.

It was Varun.

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Love Story: Chapter One

"What is meant to be will always find a way."

Trisha Yearwood
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It's 4:00 am. I'm driving home in my car. I can't remember how much I've had to drink. I know it's a lot because I have my seatbelt on. I always wear my seatbelt when I think I'm too drunk to drive safe, a habit I picked after passing out at the wheel a few times only narrowly escaping potential disaster.

I know I need to force myself to stay awake, so I turn up the music to its maximum and try shaking my head to the beat. I hope there are no police check-posts on the way because they'll probably smell the whiskey from a mile away. I'm also cursing myself for not having carried the house keys. I'll have to wake my mother up if I want to let myself in, and I'm sure she'll make a snide remark about the smell of alcohol on my breath.

I notice there is a crossing approaching. I'm suprised that the lights are functioning at this unearthly hour. Not wanting to take a chance in my current chemical condition, I dutifully stop and wait for the light to turn green. I'm almost proud of myself for doing so. The evening that has gone by is flashing in front of my eyes. Suddenly, I realise "Soul Meets Body" is playing on the music system. "Brilliant!" I exclaim, and start to sing along... it'll help me keep my mind off what happened at the party. I also adjust the shaking of my head to this new found beat. The air-conditioning has me near frozen so I switch it off and roll down the front windows of the car.

That's when I notice her.
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It was 8:30 pm. Radha stepped out of the shower and looked at her naked self in the mirror. Impressed, as always with what she saw, she gave herself a quick, naughty wink and grabbed her towel. She wiped herself dry and with a practiced ease applied three different types of lotions, leaving no part of her body unattended. Next, she wrapped the towel round herself and stepped out of the bathroom. She scanned her room, making sure no one was there. Then she hurried to the door and locked it. Next, she turned on the music and flung her towel on the bed.

If you saw Radha, you wouldn't believe that she took less than ten minutes to dress up. She's the sort of woman who would compel you to look at her, simply by way of her existence. She had the rare ability to make even the suavest of men uncomfortable and even the most ravishing women helplessly jealous. The difference between Radha and the rest of the world was her confidence and comfort with self.

Today was no different. Swiftly and efficiently the items of clothing appeared on her dusky body. The carefully faded blue jeans waste 26" and the black top with a plunging v-shaped neckline. The top was designed in such a way that each time she bent, you would get a fleeting glimpse of her lacy purple bra. Radha, knowingly, made no effort to cover her chest with her hand when she bent, a part of her enjoyed this sudden attention, from men and women alike, and of course she cracked up when she used to notice the evasive actions that followed when she looked up.

Her sandals were a point of discussion in the local social circles. Most of them were black, beige, chocolate brown, and a few were silver. All of them had one thing in common, a four inch heel and a characteristic, dull silver star right next to the ankle on the outside. Her jeans were just short enough to reveal the star.
No one knew how she managed to dance so well wearing such high heels. And no one knew where she shopped for them. What really got to the women was that Radha wouldn't tell. She used the convenient excuse that her father used to buy them from somewhere in Europe, Latvia? Lithuania? Luxembourg? No one remembered. Or maybe each time someone asked, Radha named a different country.

Once dressed, Radha ran to her cupboard mirror which was full length. She stood for two full minutes, much longer than usual, carefully examining herself. Her hair fell carefully on her shoulders, the wavy black locks blending with the black of her top. She adjusted her top to make sure there was enough skin between the end of the top and the beginning of the jeans. This way those who saw her from the front got a view of her naval ring and those who looked at her from the back were able to examine the tattoo on her lower back.
Then suddenly, for reasons known only to her, she broke into a dance. A casual, almost careless shaking of hips. She turned her body around but her eyes remained fixed on herself in the mirror, making sure every inch of her was just the way she wanted it to be, including the intensely inviting ass. Once she was convinced, the naughty wink followed.

She quickly turned off the music, went out of her room and into her parents'. There she spotted her favourite perfume on the dressing table, Turquoise by Ralph Lauren, and applied as much as she could without nauseating herself. She didn't normally use much perfume but today was going to be a long night, and hopefully a special one, so she had decided to go that extra mile.

In the throws of olfactory passion, Radha didn't realise that her cellfone had been ringing in her room. The ringtone "Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness" by Joe Satriani echoed in her room, begging to be heard. The phone screen read: 3 missed calls.

Radha was unaware of the fact that his was one phone call she should have attended.

(To be Continued...)