|| Some Mornings It Pours ||
Most mornings I get up with a strong urge to write in a vacuous mind bereft of ideas. Today’s was a morning when I found my mind crowded with indelible labels attached to diminishing memories of incidents, some sweet, some bitter, rounded by the continuous attrition of the cacophonous quotidian life. Some of these stories are pure fiction, some embellished facts, and a few woven around fragments of fact.
|| Women Are From Mars ||
We were having morning tea quietly, both the wife and I musing over the day ahead, when she suddenly exclaimed, “Oops!”
I asked, alarmed, “What happened? Forgot something, again?”
She said, pensively, “Everyone in the Teachers’ Room wanted to know where baby and her husband have bought their new home. I think I have told them something wrong.” ‘Baby’ is how we still refer to our thirty-plus daughter.
I said with incredulous tension, “Didn’t you say Dublin?”
She said, despairingly, “No … and. I cannot even remember what place I said, except that I said something beginning with M.”
“Did you say Mountain View?” I asked, trying to help her. That is where our daughter lived before moving to Dublin.
“No, no” said the wife, jogging her memory “I think … I think I told them Mars!”
This is something easily explained. She has been obsessed with finding a groom for her unwilling niece who happens to be a Manglik.
(A Mangalik is a person considered unlucky because his / her horoscope shows the presence of Mars in five of its twelve zones)
|| Is Everything OK? ||
As the woman waited for her flight from Washington DC to Chicago, her mobile rang. It was her husband’s father from India. After exchange of greetings, he asked, “What is all that noise in the background?”
She – “Oh! That is the hubbub of passengers jostling to board their flights.”
He – “Passengers? Where are you now?”
She – “I am in Washington DC … Look papa, my boarding announcement has just been made. I got to go. I will call you after my flight lands.”
At San Francisco, as the man waited for his flight to Chicago, his mobile rang. It was his sister from India. She asked, “Where are you now?”
He – “At the airport, catching a flight to Chicago.”
She – “Chicago? Is everything OK?”
He – “Yeah, yeah! … Why do you ask?”
She – “Oh, Papa had called your wife. She said she was at Washington DC. So Papa called me. He sounded worried … anyway, never mind.”
He – “You mean you won’t tell me! … What is bugging you two?
She – “Come, call me after you board.”
He – “OK. I got to hang up. I am late, and haven’t checked in yet.”
After boarding, the woman called her husband’s father. His phone was engaged. She thought of checking with her husband. She had come to Washington DC for a seminar over Monday and Tuesday. And now she was on her way to Chicago to join her husband, who was at the same time flying out to Chicago for an office conference on Wednesday. She was going to Chicago because she wanted her American foster parents to meet her husband. For this, she had taken leave from office to work from home. She was excited. Interrupting her reverie, her mobile rang. It was her husband’s sister. Sounding guarded, she asked, “How is everything?”
– “Fine. How about you?”
– “Are you sure?”
– “Yes! Why?”
– “No … I mean … Why are you two touring separately, one in Washington DC, and the other in Chicago? Is everything alright between you two?”
|| Alley Cat ||
At last, things were looking up. Depressed with the bleak prospect of having to work as a research assistant at the University, she had just landed a much coveted post-doctoral fellowship at PARC, Palo Alto, earlier of Xerox. She had sold off her meager student life possessions of State College, and moved with her clothes and car to California. After putting up with a college friend for a few days, she had managed to find a first floor accommodation in Mountain View, close to the Google office. And nearby was this grocery store. Life could not be better, except for …
It was the alley cat. The first day she came out to leave for office, a little late, and took the narrow back alley to the car parking, she found this huge cat lying all stretched across the concrete walkway. It was the biggest cat she had ever seen. It lay with its eyes closed, and all four stretched out, spanning almost the complete width of the walkway. It scared her. Could she step over it? What if it became aggressive, pawed her, or scratched her? She hesitated, and then took a detour over the grass. The cat opened its eyes and gave her a surly stare. The next morning, it was there again. In fact, the whole week! It both puzzled her and made her mad – having to step over, or go around, a huge lazy cat that blocked the shortcut to the parking lot, just when she was late for office. Not that cat was stranger to her. Living in the US all these years, she had accepted the fact that some people could not do without cats. But herself, she was not much of a cat person.
Now it was Saturday morning. As she stepped into the rear balcony with a cup of hot chocolate, she saw the cat stretched across the walkway drenched in the morning sunlight. Soon a man came along, stooped over the cat, blocking its view. Then he stood up and passed by the cat. It still lay with its all four stretched out. More people trickled past the cat. The same ritual of stooping over the cat followed. No one seemed to be much scared of the cat. What was happening? She found out soon. A woman came from the parking lot side. She came to the cat, and stooped over it. The cat rolled over on its back and lying supine exposed its belly. She scratched the belly, and the cat wriggled and curled up like an embryo. The woman stood up, and passed the cat.
Next Monday, leaving for office, she knew what to do. The cat was there. Seeing her, it turned its face away, and stretched its hind legs, completely blocking the walkway. Hesitantly, and gingerly, she approached the cat. But, just as she began to stoop down over it with one hand stretched to tickle its belly, the cat got up, slunk away and stood at a distance with a suspicious look that said, “Too late, for all that!”
|| This One No Robocop ||
In the morning rush hour of office goers, she was driving from Mountain View to her office in San Ramon. Traffic crept along with the density and discipline of ants foraging for food. It was a forty-mile drive that took a good one hour on good days, and on particularly bad days like this, another half hour. She dreaded the drive, commuting up and down every day. But she must face it till she found an accommodation near San Ramon.
In her rear view mirror, she saw again the patrol car in her lane. The car had woven in and out of the traffic, remaining behind her for quite some time now. It was quite unusual to have a patrol car tailing you for such a long time. Usually they passed you, or pulled you up. But this one had been trailing her patiently for at least fifteen minutes. What was it up to? She had been accustomed to highway patrol cars. Usually, they waited in the trees somewhere ahead, trying to apprehend speeding motorists. And, you could tell them from miles before by the perceptible slowing down of the traffic moving ten to fifteen miles above the speed limit. But a patrol car behind you was a different thing.
She started sweating. Had she exceeded the speed limit? She could not recall. Anyways, in this lethargic traffic that was well nigh impossible. Was there something wrong with the car? She could not think of anything. She merged into the six lane highway, hoping to peel away from the patrol car. But, to her horror, she saw the patrol car right behind now. The officer put out the flasher, and switched on the siren. It was closing up on her. Now, the officer was shouting into a megaphone, asking her to pull up.
With trembling hands she swung into the side lane, switched off the engine, and waited. The patrol car drove past her and stopped. The officer came up to her, and gravely asked for the car papers. She took them out of her purse, and handed them over. He went through them and nodded. Then he asked, “How long have you been in California, Ma’am?” She fumbled with her answer. It has been more than a year. The officer shook his head, and said, “Your car still has its Pennsylvania registration. You didn’t think of registering it in California!” His tone was mildly accusatory, and mildly reprimanding. He was now writing a slip. He finished writing, and handed her the slip. It was a notice to get the car immediately registered in California and then go and see the authorities. Feeling guilty, she nodded her assent, still wanting to tell the office how difficult it had been for her the past few months on the new job, and the daily commute of nearly a hundred miles.
The officer started walking back to the patrol car. Reaching it, he looked back. The girl had started the car and was craning her neck out of the car window looking for a break in the oncoming traffic rush. He remembered driving behind her, unable to see her head through her car’s rear window – she was so small. He returned to her and motioned her to stop the car. Going near her window, he said, “I think you will have trouble pulling into the traffic. So, just follow me, and drive close.”
Then he went back to his car, started it, put on the flashers and the siren, and eased forward. The girl followed him close behind. The traffic behind them miraculously slowed down, opening a gap. The patrol car gradually gathered speed and drove on, leading the girl into the heady super crazy traffic. Then the patrol car was gone – like a streak of lightning.
|| Mail-Order Groom ||
The man had been looking for a groom for his daughter in the marriage portals. He did not like much of what he saw. Then, one day he told his office colleagues, “Today I got a mail from the marriage portal.”
“Male? You mean a boy? Tell us about him.” Gushed out one fellow.
“No, no, not m-a-l-e”, he spelled out, pausing and continuing, “it’s m-a-i-l. It seems my account had been hacked. So, the bureau guys sent me a mail for verification.”
|| And Finally, Today’s Wiley ||
© mikupa / 01 July 2015