Friday, August 23, 2013

A matter of Choice

              The cab roared to a start yet again and after a few blocks it got stuck again in the evening traffic. The digital traffic signal, contrary to its purpose, had created a chaos due to it's break down. The hassled drivers cursed each other and honked aimlessly as the vehicles crawled. It was getting dark and cold. The school kids recklessly hopped along the cross roads, not heeding the whistling of the traffic patrol team. The urchins and sellers busily carried on to cash in on this opportunity. They banged on the windows of the rich to part with a few notes, harassed the passengers to buy their goods and terrorized the kids with their lurid stories of misfortune.

              Inside the air-conditioned cab, a woman sat absorbed in a magazine. Unperturbed by the frenzy outside, she pored over the glossy pages. The windows were rolled up and the faint music on FM  buzzed around her. The driver of the cab savored her lustfully. He adjusted the mirror to get a better view of her. He ogled at the milky white bosoms that seemed to rebel with her skin tight, black ,netted blouse. Gazing down, her tenuous waist curved perfectly and her thighs played hide and seek with the side cut of her skirt. She looked up through her glares and saw his lascivious eyes and ignored it.

              "Why don't you just take the car on one side of the road and stare?" she chided at him
              He was shocked by her boldness.
              " How will you take me to the toll?" she asked
              " From.. from the side " he garbled and steered his vehicle to the side of the road and waited for the slow moving traffic to pace. Once across the signal, he had to take a right turn.

             IT didn't matter to her. Those eyes that devoured her. It once inflated her ego. She was callow then.

            She always set out before time. Never once, in her career of 5 years, she had been late. She never had to knit her brows in frustration and hope for the clock to stop. She always allocated room for a car breakdown, accident, traffic problem and million other reasons that could delay her!
            She avoided looking out of the car on her way to work. The prospects weren't good. IT was always a face of deprivation, poverty and injustice. Or her past..

             It wasn't a good idea to be travelling on this route. This road was dangerous. It had ghosts of her past. Ghost that she stared right in the eyes when she looked outside..

            Only, he was oblivious to her existence as he blared on his cellphone. Still the same arrogance.
It astounded her, the sudden shot of blood through her system. It made her aware of everything within her. She felt frighteningly fragile and feminine. A flush of pink more intense than the rouge she was painted in.
            In a matter of seconds, she felt like the 20 year old naive girl in love,that she once was. It was heartbreaking to see him after 6 years.. How handsome he still was.. Just a few lines near the eyes that made him even more desirable as he smiled. Only, he did not smile at her. He stared at a distance, awaiting someone. Like he waited for her every evening..

            "Don't be so selfish. Open your eyes and look around. One has to work to make life better."
            She had rolled her eyes at his lecture.
            " Don't start over again. Can you do it for me or not?" she asked
            " What you are asking out of me isn't love. IT is some childish notion of love. I cannot love you that
             way. The kind of romance in movies isn't for real!" he had said.
            " This relation is a waste of time. You cannot give me time, you cannot pamper me with gifts, you cannot do anything special! I m wasting my time!"
            "Then just walk out!" he had shouted in anger.
             She had walked out.

            He had tried to reason with her several times. He had plans to marry her. It was his way of commitment. To work and make her life comfortable after marriage. It all looked so ordinary to her. To marry and beget children and then continue the cycle. So mediocre. She was meant for greater things.
           She impulsively unrolled the window. As if on a cue, he turned to face her. He was taken aback to see her. She searched for some expression on his face but drew a blank. He approached her and her spirits lifted. It terrified her to acknowledge how much her body ached for his. She was shaking with the magnitude of feelings that had overcome her facade. Tears not heeding, goosebumps all over her arms, she extended her hand which he took hesitantly and gave a light shake. It was awkward and when she realised, she threw open the doors and he sat beside her, undecided. The driver cleared his throat to make his presence felt and to draw attention to the moving traffic.
          "Wait a few minutes." she ordered driver and he resigned.

         "How are you Alisha?" he asked.
         Alisha.. Alisha.. that deep voice. She wanted to melt into his arms and fuse in the heat.. His voice reverberated on her ear drums..
        She wanted to scream out and tell him she was wrong. She was ridiculously wrong. 
       "Umm I m fine Ravi, and you?" she said instead.
       " I m doing good." He tapped his foot lightly.. Impatience and shock..
       " Did you find your perfect romantic guy?" he asked, unable to contain himself.
       Can I just hug you once? Make love to you like it was the end of my life? Can I just get consumed in the surfeit of lust? Can I just rest on your arms and stare at the ceiling? Can I just feel human again?
        "Yes, I found him" she lied.
        "Good for you! I m waiting for my wife here. I have to go or she will search for me."
        He moved out without any hint of further contact. He did not want her anymore.

        "Chale madam?" The irritated driver asked.
        "Bas 2 minute."
        She saw him waiting for sometime.. A woman appeared from the shopping center. He took some of the bags she had. She was a few inches shorter than him. Her long tresses were tightened with a clip and let loose on her back. Dressed in a simple salwar kameez, she cut a demure figure. They walked together. From inside the car, she saw him put his hands across her shoulders and his wife looking at him. Her eyes lighting up and a smile of satisfactions playing on her lips. It could all have been mine.

       For the first time in 5 years, she had been late. She knocked at the door. A potbellied man in his 50s opened the door and growled,
      "Itna late! Khudko kareena samajti hai kya?"
      Without waiting for her reply, he pulled her in, clawing at her breasts and she started with her work.
      She lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. She heard the flush in the bathroom and picked up her clothes. Her bruised body aching with every movement. She was spent. The man came grinning and for a moment she dreaded that he might want another go. He pulled out a wad of notes and threw at her. She was relieved when he walked out of the room.
      She dressed up and stood in front of the mirror. Sprayed the musk perfume that couldn't take away the acrid smell of rough sex. She brushed her shoulder length hair straight that sat as tangled as her life. She emphasized the lines of her eyes with the kohl which failed to hide the shame in them. She painted her lips crimson that tasted metallic of blood. She adjusted her clothes as she crumbled within. She looked at herself, so pretty, so digusting.

      She had treaded carelessly in the lanes of love. Rejected the man who could have given her a dignified life. Shunned the relations that pulled her back only to protect her. She opened all avenues for a romantic liasion. She dressed up in clothes that she thought grabbed eyeballs. She did not think they looked promiscous to men who stared at her chest. She was getting the attention that she deserved! For what? That didn't matter.
      Blinded by the dazzle of attention bestowed by a young man, she walked into her own downfall. He played with words so sweet as honey, dreams as high as sky and her feelings so fragile as glass. She went, of her own volition, beyond the limits that demarcated the two worlds. Of dignity and slavery. Of decency and vulgarity. Of class and cheapness. Reputation and disrespect. As word went around, she was swarmed with calls of men breathing into the receiver, asking her rate. Disowned by the family that she herself broke ties from, she was left to fend for herself. Thrown away from her PG accomodation, she was shown the door by all she knew. Until the door that opened to her present life..
      Pierced and burnt, her heart was wrecked. Blood gushed out until it no more hurt. Until she saw Ravi. The frozen tears now knew no boundaries..She could blame no one.. For it had all been her choice..



shruthi iyer said...

sorry...but I didn't like this...:(

Vivienne Z said...

Can't have fun, quirky or happy endings for every story, now ;) I liked it. I can't identify with any character you've portrayed, but then, I guess, neither can you. That's what makes writing fun - you don't have to Be a bch to write of a bch.

Meety said...

Interesting..... you always do justice to the characters you choose to portray in every story....I bow to thy art of creativity

maithili said...


maithili said...

Thank you so much Vivienne.. This lifted my spirit :D

maithili said...

Thank you so much Meety :) I m flattered !

Vivienne Z said...

I was thinking about this story last night, and it was only then that it hit me. There's a moral here :P

Appreciate what you have, when you have it.

I reckon this is a "the grass is greener on the other side" inspired story.

sulagna ™ said...

Maithili this was written very very beautifully..although the story in itself is so surreal, so painful, i really like the style ! good going girli

maithili said...

I always have that playing somewhere in my mind. I think most of my stories do reflect that :D

maithili said...

Thank you so much :D

Roshan Radhakrishnan said...

Yes. They do. :)
There is a sense of 'what if we had not taken this turn' to quite a few of your fictional posts, I feel.
Good one. I honestly felt this was more realistic...

maithili said...

You are right :) "What if" is what always makes a story :D
Thank you Roshan.. This was a small attempt at writing something darker :)