Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tender (Micro Fiction)

“Vinay is feeling horny!”

David was holding out the crisp ten rupee note to Rohini. She looked down in confusion at the untidy scribble on the paper money. Vinay and horny? How could that be? It was their driver honking away in the messy Dhaula Kuan traffic! Vinay was sitting on the left front. She did wonder why he was wearing a smirk but he was nowhere near the horn.

Riding a cab was a luxury she could ill afford. The client meeting at Khan Market had ended well and the Company directors were dropping their advertising executive home. A recent college graduate, Rohini was several years younger and slightly out of their worldly wise league. She sat in a self-conscious cloud of their musk cologne.

David’s aura of power overwhelmed her. He was very self-assured, blue chip in every way, travel as he did in a faint wisp of expensive cigar smoke. “Yes, right there, opposite the G Block market, you can stop here,” she leaned forward to direct the driver to her home. Alighting from the car to see her off, David addressed her, “Tomorrow? Over lunch! My place?” Her face flushed at his parting words and she got off the white Ambassador in a fluster. The giddy alloy of shame and excitement balled in her belly, evaporating a little at the smell of her Mom’s dinner wafting over the front gate. She was late and grateful her parent was not positioned at her usual look out post.

The night was spent agonizing over his invite, resolving eventually with this line of self-talk, “Would she be true to herself to pass up a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime potential to connect out of fear of something as fickle as social sanctions?” And it did not occur to her trusting parents to ask what the office was doing working on a Sunday. Rohini was soon enough dodging cycling children, scurrying maids and lounging security guards that lazy summer afternoon, on way to his upscale apartment.

His home felt cool and padded for sound. Several bowls of covered food lay on the dark wood table. David walked her from the front door and up the carpeted stairs to his living room where his suitcase lay open, ties and socks neatly ranked. She lowered herself onto the floor. “A business trip has come up. I will call you from the airport, all right? Here, you can give me a hand with the handkerchiefs," he resumed packing.

The doorbell rattled their easy silence. David rose with a furrowed brow to peer through the first floor curtains. He drew back as though stung. It was his boss and the lady wife. Drawing back quickly, he fumbled with embarrassment as he pushed Rohini out of his room towards the far end of his house in the direction of his laundry room, “I am sorry about this but just stay quiet for a while here, will you. It is the Sahnis and I can't have them catch you here. We would both be in real trouble?” The door clicked softly behind him. The woman sat there in hiding, feeling guilty and mortified and somehow unclean amidst the crisp linen.

Her agency head was nodding thoughtfully at his young employee the next morning, “I do not wish to service the Company anymore" her voice was resolute.

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