Veda looked over at the sighing woman beside her. Poor lady! She looked so tired! As a newly joined HR Executive, Veda was still learning the ropes of her work. True…she did have her work cut out for her. But still, it was a challenge in a profession where competition was cut-throat. And winning was no longer a choice but a necessity to her. Her entire family depended on her income. Rent, her siblings’ education fees, daily kharch, bills..... everything. Life had been one long struggle for her before she landed in this job. She smiled to herself as she thought of her work – her solace. She loved interacting with the bright minds of her department. Her smile froze as she thought of her boss and his lecherous hand stroking her thigh in the meeting today. Why did wheel of life always have a spoke?
KaaruNyaa’s attention was caught by the sudden change of expression of the lady sitting across her. One minute she was smiling and the next moment, her face had turned so wooden ! Being the head of the division, she was quick to notice any behavioral changes. Just today, she had interviewed three candidates - two ladies and a guy - for an upcoming, highly paid post in her division wherein she had to rely on her expertise, both technically and otherwise. One of the girls hailed from the same place as her. KaruNyaa's eyes became glazed as she was transported back in time to that small village where she had spent her youth before moving onwards for higher education and job. Sigh! She had known such peace then. Now, edging forty and still single, life was full of complications with the society being merciless to the unmarried. Why didn’t she marry? Was she too caught up with her career? If only she could answer the question, perhaps she would not have been in this position.
Trisha caught the far-away expression of the woman behind her in the spotless window pane. Somehow, it jarred her out of the reverie into which she had slipped by listening to the songs on her IPOD. She made a quick review of her surroundings and settled back into her seat. Out of their own volition, her thoughts veered towards Ambu. Ambu. Her dear Ambu. The man whom she loved......until he broke her heart by marrying someone else. Uncontrollable memories surged through her, those of Ambu proposing to her, chasing her till she consented, those moments spent together, finally coming to a standstill to the day of her birthday. That’s when he told her that she was fun to sleep with. But not marry! Tears welled in her eyes while she made a futile attempt to control them.
Sanobar turned her gaze to the view outside the window across the aisle to give the weeping lady some privacy. Though she hid her sensitivity under a veneer of brashness, it always embarrassed her to see grown-ups cry. It reminded me of her Mother who wept her heart out over her Father’s waywardness, his irresponsible behaviour, his moroseness over not securing a job which turned ugly during fits of drunken brawls. Her hand clenched at the memories of her Mother. Men ! Bah ! They always viewed women as their personal toy to use whenever needed, and discard when satiated. “Never shall I submit to a man! Never !”
Gargi focused on the clenched fists, sneaked a quick peek at the owner’s face and returned to her book which she clutched absent-mindedly. Her thoughts were centered on the weekend to come. Yet another guy. Yet another rehearsal followed by yet another rejection! She was fed up with this charade! She was too short or too tall, too fat or too thin, too fair or too dark, so on and so forth ! Such lame excuses! And even before the horoscopes tallied! Did guys feel insecure just because she had excelled in her MBA batch? Perhaps ! Or she wasn’t that type to appeal to their sense of sexiness! Round and round like a merry-go-round went her thoughts in trying to figure out that elusive reason. Wasn’t there a single guy who could accept her the way she was? Her book slipped from her fingers and fell down with a splat.
Kshama retrieved the book and gave it back to the girl across the aisle. The girl looked a bit sheepish while thanking her. Kshama smiled away the half-formed words of apology. Her five months of pregnancy certainly allowed her to bend, didn’t it? She settled back with a small sigh of discomfort. She never could get comfortable during the commute. No matter how much she tried, she ended up being tired by the end of the trip. She thought about the heated argument which she had with Amrit earlier this morning. Her nausea had been acting up lately leaving her in no condition to prepare breakfast – the very thought of food resulted in fresh pangs ! She has been toying with the idea of ‘bunking’ work when Amrit created a ruckus about working his ‘ass’ off and not even having a decent breakfast. She too had flared up and threatened to quit her job at which Amrit cruelly reminded her of all the loans in her name. House, car, stereo system…. what not! Another jolt of the cab sent fresh pangs of discomfort down her back which she rubbed absently while contemplating the future.
Antaraa was observing the pregnant lady with barely concealed cynicism. Why on the earth should one have children was something which she could simply not fathom! Being a career woman entailed her to be as hard as nails in taking decisions and not having children was one among them. Her lips curved into a satisfied smile as she thought of her position now – the sole woman head in the department with many men under her command. She enjoyed making the squirm under her authority! “That’s how they should be treated… in a manner similar to how the men treat women”. Submissiveness! Bah ! How she hated it ! That’s why she made sure that her husband of three years never interfered in her affairs – personal or otherwise. She had even forgotten how Sumit looked like. Somehow the image seemed a bit blurred around the edges. Her expression softened as she thought of her year-old Kriti, her light of her life. She wanted to be with her growing daughter. But.......With an irritated shake of her head, she directed her attention back to the spreadsheet on her laptop.
The cab rumbled on with its travelers on yet another day back from work, and disappeared into the inky blackness of the night.