|pic - chasintheshade.blogspot.com|
She walks on – so what if her legs tremble – she walks on. She chews on an Orbit to take her mind away from disastrous destinations and instead focus on innovations of rolling a gum a 100 different ways in her mouth. Smoothen it with the tongue till it feels like a stretched out cling wrap. Destroy it by chewing on it till every ridge of your teeth has made its mark on it. Then repeat, repeat and repeat. Concentrate just on that, even if it makes you look more like a cow intent on digesting half the grass in its mouth itself. “Life will unfold anyway” – she tells herself – “whether I think about it or not. Orbits are great!” She closed her eyes and visualized her jaws shaping with every bite – shuddered at the picture of herself as a Moose lookalike. She walked on and chewed still.
There is a pitfall in being preoccupied. You reach your destination far sooner than expected – a boon if you like it. Read a book from Gurgaon to Delhi and you don’t even notice the traffic (of course do not hazard this if you are driving. Hiring a chauffeur is a pre-requisite.). If you are trying to memorize the roads, the journey takes double the time you were expecting it to. What’s worse – the amount of time you have to wait at a red light makes you forget what you had learnt so far – and then you lose interest and read some more… But I digress.
She was there. Her reality faced her like a gnawing fear – she wondered why she was chewing bitter gourd for so long and spat out a white ball as if it were poison! After her bath, she had wet some tissue paper with which she stroked the bathroom floor gently. The shed hair from her head, that were doomed to live a life of banishment after their fall, clinged on to the paper hopefully. She had grinned at her efficiency and flicked the roll into the bin. Presently she thrust this sordid image of herself towards the exit sign in her brain and straightened herself. If you threw a dog into water it swims to survive – even if it never swam before. She knocked on the door, gritted her teeth and brought a sparkle in her eyes. This was it.
A man whose face read profound and impatient opened the door. His salt and pepper beard deliciously trimmed to suit the shape of his face. His round rimless glasses shone in the sunlight but the piercing blue eyes beat it and penetrated her very being. He moved aside to let her in – a hint of a smile in his lips. She would be judged and tested. Her stoic attitude fortified her and she walked in with confidence. This was a man she would happily sacrifice her right arm to be with but today she felt hollow.
A world champion chess player was going to sit opposite her today – life separating them instead of a board. Today was the day she would be humiliated and cast aside by a man she longed for forever. Go away, she said – to the image of the cow chewing grass again.
The day rolled by. Many who believed rumors of the man inviting amateurs to his house to play got anxious. Was a 16 year old nobody going to beat the very epitome of a genius mind? Online bloggers had started anticipating a diversion in trend; people’s imagination started running wild; event management companies drafted entire proposals for a celebrity appearance from a 19 year old genius; Cereal companies called urgent meetings to draw a budget for her to endorse them – it was as if a tornado warning had been announced and people were hustling to prepare for it.
But she came out only the next day – arms intertwined with her father after a tearful reconciliation! A union after 16 years during which she was forbidden to meet the man who had left her mother precariously stranded because of another relationship.
She had struggled years together wanting to meet this man. She had dreamed of a meeting in which she demanded answers of a teary eyed loser. She had drawn pictures of herself with him - walking hand in hand in a park. She dreamt of winning the screaming match and leaving him feeling sorry for himself…. She had dreamt of winning him over with a hug and bringing him home to a hating ex-wife.
She noticed a filthy black soft ball on the side of the driveway where she had discarded her comforting friend the day earlier. She smiled at the waiting press and said “He beat me.”