Note: This is an attempt at writing a 'Neo-Realistic' short story, let me know how it went.Dont ask me again if this is autobiographical. All my stories are. Period! :D
The first instance he saw Deepali, he found her rather unappealing. She didn’t go with his idea of beauty. A slim; as slim as to be called an underweight, and short bob cut hair. It was she who approached him first, for a little office related qualm and he noticed her fragrance-A fruity scent; rather pleasant; a pretty smile and a suave walk. There was some strange sophistication in her in entirety.
Not that he was one womanizer; he preferred more plain types, the homely ones. She tried to come closer to him, as if she needed him, or so he felt when she came very close to him, so much that he felt her breath. He tried to avoid her, displaying his not so pleasing face while she smiled. He made his displeasure fairly evident. She invited him for lunch, but he declined. She tried to bridge the space between them but he tried to move further. She tried knowing him but he kept himself blocked. All this merely since he found her unattractive, Not my type, he would often prove to himself.
The only instance of togetherness was when they had lunch together, that too just once, but he had preferred to keep his silence. She had tried to open up but bunged out of his recluse.
Rahul was not handsome in more conventional ways, not so much as him. It was Rahul who was his first friend in this city, since he moved here five years ago. A very pleasant man and a charmer.
It was Rahul who had arranged a stay for him. He had been so helpful to him all these years. They often had lunch or dinner together or occasionally went for a cinema. There was not a single staff in the office who disliked Rahul.
It was he who had introduced Rahul to Deepali. Rahul had a hand shake and it seemed Deepali liked his company. They appeared bonded, in no time. Rahul and Deepali came together for work and left together after work. They shared lunch together. Rahul would make her taste her Tiffin, which he too had tasted on several occasions. Rahul’s mother made Tiffin; so delicious and nourishing.
They appeared like genuine close friends, too close for his probing eyes. He started to wonder what she had found in him. Rahul wasn’t as handsome as him.
she wanted to come closer to him too, but he had raised a wall. Not his type, not so beautiful: he had thought .But why was he upset now? was he jealous?
He saw things change before his eyes. She would come to office on his Kinetic Honda and leave with him. Rahul looked much nice-looking with a woman, ever than before and Deepali looked inundated but euphoric.
He starting dreaming about the two. He wondered if She went home after work. He was sure Rahul would be having dinner with her everyday. They would be spending time together till wee hours of the morning. He wondered if they slept together. He soon began to lose sleep.
On one of the Sundays he spotted the two, riding past him, not giving a glace to his staring self. She had cuddled him from behind, he could see that. The embrace appeared too tight, as if they were life partners. He turned red in boundless jealousy .
He imagined them in cinema theaters, ice-cream parlors, hands tied, too close and passionate. He spent nights sleeplessly.
He started turning to her. He would pass her desk several times, pretending to smile at her, trying to catch her interest. She would grin back and he would ask her silly questions. She would answer back to him, in ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The fire in his heart burgeoning.
She emerged much beautiful than before. He couldn’t take his eyes from her. Her Churidars looked the most trendy, her style the most appealing. He took notice of minute details about her style. Everything about her was enchanting. Her sandal was those he had never seen on a woman’s feet, so elegant and graceful. Her matching bangles looked straight out of a movie frame. Green bangles for green churidar, red for red. Her short hairs danced with her mesmerizing walk, like a suave serpent. He longed for her, her companionship, her hug.
He decided to buy a Scooter. Not the same as Rahul, all would think this as imitation. He decided on Honda Activa.He hoped for her closeness, she behind him and embracing him, like how she did to Rahul. He burned in envy.
One day she appeared in pain. She had held her stomach tight, as if suffering from a burly stomachache. He went near her to ask and she looked at him, into his eyes. He asked her if he could help her with anything, she smiled back naughtily. She told him that it happens to her every month. She was having her day of the months.
That night, his mind went back in reverse; again and again, the scene of the day. Her pain and her way of holding her stomach. Her disclosure about her periods, with that naughty, mischievous smile. A smile formed in his eyes unknowingly. He was in love with her, her femininity, her everything. In entirety, everything about her was so alluring.
“I would propose her”, he told himself during one of the sleepless nights.
It was a week later that he was informed the news about his transfer. He was absolutely wrecked. He was transferred to Kerala, some god forbidden land, some fools calling themselves the “gods own country”. That’s the height of self praise. He hated this news, about his transfer.
He had one more week before his reporting date. He made numerous plans of proposing her. He approached her myriad times, all in his heightened anxious minutes. He just couldn’t cuff it up. He changed the subject every time she came near his sight. He felt choked, his head getting crammed with blood, like a puffer fish.
At last, it was the day of departure. Office had arranged a send off for him. Light snacks and soft drinks were arranged and he was asked to speak about his experience, working in that office for 5 years. He couldn’t care much of the 5 years except for the last 6 months, the time Deepali had walked into the office and his miserable life.
He couldn’t speak much, he felt his mouth turn a traitor against him. It was Deepali who walked in, to offer his sendoff gift, neatly packet in a glittery wrap paper. With a card.
The crowd dispersed and the office was shut by the watchman. Deepali and Rahul waited for him at the entrance.
“Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your help.” He heard Deepali talk.
He started to say something, but stopped midway, wondering what it was that he wanted to utter. Nothing, he had nothing to speak.
“And one more thing. A very big thanks for Introducing Rahul. “ she was smiling, her most enthralling smile, he felt he would collapse, he felt giddy.
He forced a smile, shook hands with both and walked towards his scooter.
It was after reaching home that he opened his gift. It was a set of Parker pens and a Gold ring.
He opened the greeting card. It was from Deepali, thanking him personally, from her and Rahul, thanking him for making them meet. The inscription also mentioned that they would call him and inform him of their Engagement, once things were planned.
He tore the greeting card. He sat on the sofa and wept, covering his face, like a child.
The new office was plusher than his previous, at least the building looked well maintained. Kerala was indeed pleasant, though still too exaggerated to be called “gods own country”, nevertheless he agreed in it, partly.
His eyes panned, as he walked into his cubicle, as if searching for a Deepali. He wasn’t sure if there would be ever a Deepali in his life. Never. There are not many with all the goodies in one package. He smiled obliquely.
He heard cacophony of slender reverberations, all sorts of murmurs, mixture of masculine and feminine. His ears tried filtering the faint Feminine whispers dallying in the air. He heard a melodious sigh.
Devika, the office clerk. An enthralling beauty, But with long hairs unlike Deepali, plumper than Deepali and with the unlike captivating movements. But all the same, a beauty. He sighed.
He asked her out for Lunch. She agreed outright. He was pleased with his labor and providence. What if no Deepali, he would have a woman for himself. He would take her in his Kinetic Honda. “Oops, not Kinetic but Honda activa”. He corrected himself. He would go to Ice cream parlor, cinema theatre, have Lunch and dinner together. One day he would even take her home. Like Rahul and Deepali. He wanted to disagree with himself. No, unlike them.
He would invite Devika for dinner tonight. She had agreed for Lunch without any hesitation. She would be too willing.
Five o clock was announced by sharp ringing of the large Ajantha clock, hanging on the office wall. He rushed out of his cubicle towards Devika. She was in an attempt to leave hurriedly. He stopped her with his forwarded hand. He was panting, almost like a dog.
“Hey, Devika. Thought of asking you something.” He asked after a while, controlling his doglike panting.
“What”, she asked with a hint of alarm.
“Thought, if you would be free, why not we have dinner together.” He said looking down, trying hard to sound casual and cool.
She nodded as if she understood something very concealed.
“ Hey, but how come you want us to join you? For dinner, but beware we are bad eaters. My husband is worse than me. Be sure of your wallet before inviting us.” She was almost chuckling in excitement, her sarcasm quite evident.
He smiled awkwardly and walked towards his cubicle. He felt as if he had been slapped on his cheeks by a hard-hitting hand. He sat on his rotating chair and looked at the ceiling, as if in deep thoughts. He appeared as if he was reflecting on life and its infinite puzzles and knottiness.
Deepali cried. She had been crying ever since she was ditched by Rahul. He had told her about his other love. He was two timing her ever since she had known him.
She hated men. She felt ugly about herself. She couldn’t look into the mirror. No men found her attractive. Her office colleague Arun, who was transferred, always ignored her, as if she was some hundred year old leathery woman. She had found him attractive, but if only he found her the same. He had always made her feel unwanted. Like he hated her from the day he laid his sight on her. She cried more noisily.