Sunday, January 17, 2010

One fine morning...

Mother was surprised to see me up so early on a Sunday morning.

It was when I was a sub-editor with an English national daily. My day used to start at 10 am in the morning with a hot piping tea and three national dailies. Yes, it was expected of every journalist to make a comparison of how a piece of news is carried by the competitors. After reaching home around 1 am, I had the habit of watching movie, if interesting or read for a while before calling it a day.

I did the usual on Saturday and returned home in the wee hours of Sunday. I was restless rather tensed and couldn’t sleep. Mother was surprised to see me dressed up at the breakfast table.

“Are you going out,” she asked.
“Yes. I have an assignment.” I said. I was unusually quiet.
“Where?” she asked.
“To the central jail. I have to do a story on the inmates.” I said. I was in no mood to talk, wanted time for myself to calm down.

Father lifted his face from the newspaper, looked at me and resumed his reading.

Mother threw a fit. She expected a bit more from my father.
“How could your boss send a girl to the jail to meet a bunch of thugs? Isn’t there anyone else left in your office? Give me his number. I will talk to him.” She was fuming.

I asked her to calm down but deep within I wanted her to stop me from going. I can’t remember the last time I was this scared. I was going to spend the whole day with the inmates, definitely, not an exciting one to look forward to.

“Are you fine? Do you think you can do this assignment?” inquired papa before I left home.
“I think I can,” I replied.
I so badly wanted to say no. I wanted him to call my boss and cook up a story so that I can be saved.

As the huge gates opened, I was greeted by one of the bodyguards of the jailer.
“Sir is expecting you,” said he.

A dramatic monolog

After Andrea Del Sarto and My Last Duchess, if I enjoyed any dramatic monolog in a long time then it was by Sridevi, my co-passenger in train a month back. A casual chit chat ended up as an intense one-sided monolog. I kept listening amused by her intonation fired by emotions.

Sridevi was heavy built with a passable face, too matured for a 23-year old. Even her tall figure couldn’t hide the roundish contour. She had to give up a promising career to get married to somebody 8 years elder to her. Six months into marriage, she was caught up between conservative husband and orthodox in-laws. Her gregarious nature kept going back to a carefree life that was quelled by a life without love. As she spoke, I recalled a lecture on writing techniques by my professor in university. It’s called Stream of Consciousness with a slight difference - Sridevi was thinking loud.

I wondered and in fact, envied her for letting her emotions out with so much ease in front of strangers. She left her melancholic mood as if it was never there, and jumped on to a lighter topic. I listened. In between she kept calling her husband who was recovering from fever. She checked if he saw a doctor, took medicines and had food. She harped on her favorite topics, and unfinished discussions. I listened.

She looks out of the window and gets up without warning. “You know what, I will make this work. Time for me to go,” she said and left.

I was impressed by her optimism. With such an infectious nature, she can make anything happen her way. Wishing her all the luck in the world.

PS: She didn’t ask my name, which I really liked.