With a bag of vegetables in one hand, an umbrella in the other, lashing rains on my brain, not only did I think my life couldn't get more chaotic but I wondered as to why I am moving around with my cell phone stuck between my chin and neck, instead of putting it in the bag. I entered into the parking area which had a roof , released my phone to fall onto the bonnet surface of the car. Now keeping the umbrella hand between my neck and shoulder , I placed the bag at a lower angle such that the phone might slide to exactly enter the bag.
Yes, you guessed it right, all my geometry went wrong and the phone fell down into the puddle. Spontaneously, I kept the vegetable bag on the floor (which I didn't want to wet by placing on the floor) and the umbrella too fell off leaving a scar on my cheek when all my senses ran down to get the cell-phone. No one could help it…. It was dead.
No, it wasn't this mishap that was bothering me but it’s effect that generated – ‘I have made all the wrong choices in my life’ type, rain of thoughts. I had just reached the peak of self-evaluation process –‘Why do I exist?’, and was about to reach the conclusion of the same when I bumped into Athena in the lobby of my wing.
I’m someone who’d first look at a person’s attire before anything else; actually given a choice I’d only look at that but it was always the other way round with Athena. She always moved around with her own world of imagination and fantasy. Whatever she spoke, she spoke with irreplaceable amount of conviction.
Once Nitin’s cat had killed her Rabit… according to her, eaten it. When Nitin refused to let go off his cat ,she came up with the most creative stories, I've heard . The first story was - Once the cat sat through the entire ‘Bhoot’ movie and since then she’d started behaving weird. She convinced Nitin’s parents and everybody that a ghost resides in the cat. Everybody believed her apart from me, her mother and Nitin of course. It was two months later that the cat was sent away. Since then cats had a special place in her heart.
She had always liked only one coconut tree in our building, she had named it –‘Mango’…. Due to some construction issues, it was decided to cut down this tree…. She told everyone that the tree speaks and it had told her that if it is cut down someone from the ‘J’ wing would die and an ailing great grandmother of someone really died. Since that day people stood beneath the tree for hours asking questions but there were no answers. Many a times Athena was asked to help but she always said that the tree just spoke once. Most people appreciated her intelligence to protect the tree, while some even after 13 years, stand beneath the tree, asking questions and take it as a yes if a leaf /flower falls and vice versa. I can go on and on describing her character but for now…..
She was standing like a statue in the lobby, reading some paper. Having known Athena since 18 years I knew the page was either a page of some novel and she was trying to figure out the novel to which it belonged, in fact she must have also dreamt of uniting it with it's parent, I can bet my life on that OR it was a piece written by herself and she was thinking of ways to make it better.
Thinking about a dominant possibility, I stood in front of her for about 2 minutes until I was distracted by the unusual smell like that of a mixed fart of 3-5 species. I turned to my left and saw , ‘Emu aunty’ (she looked like an emu) .
Ignoring the smell and suspicion(if it was her or her dog)I said, “Hello…e…e.. aa… a.. aunty!” (I thanked my sensory organs for not saying EMU)
She said, “First it is Athena who is standing here in the same position since the time I've got Bummy (her dog) down for a walk and then it is you… and you two just refuse to get distracted?
I said, “I've just got distracted.’’
She said, “Ohh.. I guess you both were up to something very important , sorry for the sound disturbance”
I said, “There was a sound … huh? I wish if it was only that”.
She smiled and said, “My Bummy is very naughty’’
She got into the lift and pressed 5th floor button. All this while, Athena stood like a stubborn ice who suddenly began melting as the lift ceased to go up.
Athena put her paper down, in her right hand and said, “It was her”.
I said, “You heard all that?’’
“Then why didn’t you say anything?”
Athena took a pause and said, “Because she thinks it is her sacred duty to wash her toilet windows everyday only when I choose to answer the nature’s call”.
“Huh? What is it that you were reading?”
“It is a complaint letter to our society?’’
‘’Common Athena, a complaint letter isn't your style and she won’t change at all, in spite of that’’.
“I’m modifying my style a bit because I’m no more 5 years old and I’m too busy writing for HBZ, moreover someone who doesn't change after seeing all kinds of wastes and garbage on her car …obvio…”
“What? You threw all the waste out of your window?’’
‘’Ofcourse not, I only aim it at her car which fortunately stands right below my window”
“Hasn’t anyone seen you doing that? Doesn’t she know?’’
Opening the letter again Athena said, “I take precautions. However , when she was investigating the matter she’d questioned me the way she had questioned everyone else and I’d said that someone from above ….”
Disgusted at hearing that I said, “Do you realize, I stay above you?’’
“And there’s a terrace above you, anyone can get in there and throw waste just the way I did when I had to attack the larger circumference of her car”.
“Athena, one day I want to have a nice conversation with you and ask you, why are you the way you are? For now please tell me what were you doing with that complaint letter?”
“Evaluating, proof reading …. Not that I doubt the incurious nature of our building inhabitants who did not notice a serious issue of concern that this letter highlights and... they might not take it seriously … if you know what I mean….”
Hesitatingly Athena said, “My mom told me that she is convinced that I have gone mad to write this letter and thus become a subject of fun and stupidity in the annual general body meeting.”
Confused over all her words I simply said, “I think I should read the letter …. Can I?”
“Yes of course”
7B, Eastwood society.
The Managing Committee,
Subject: Would like to draw your attention at the life-threatening problems caused by the presence of a giant cat in our building.
I’d first like to advise everybody to kindly undergo a checkup of their sensory organs, because if it were functioning properly I would've not been the first one to write this letter. Anyway, I’d like to bring a grave issue of concern to your notice (that should be taken seriously by any sane person); the presence of a giant cat in our building has made my life very difficult since a couple of months. This giant cat considers : screaming at odd hours of the day( actually I wouldn't be exaggerating if I’d say 24*7) its principal occupation. It cries, laughs, screams, sings or whatever it is .. is extremely irritating , painful, depressing to hear a cat scream whole day. Even our watchmen are scared of it. It does not fear anyone... I don’t hate animals but I sincerely feel that if anyone likes animals, they should take them home and make sure that no inconvenience is caused to any human around. My headache has reached its peak while that giant cat continues to scream and while... I write this letter. I request you to kindly look into the matter and get the cat out of the building by whichever means as soon as possible;before anyone's ears become immune to her screams and cries. I hope; the same ghost hasn't come back into this giant cat and.... I hope we don’t bestow a situation that upon the talking tree that compels it to break its 13 year long silence.
P.S : I am not threatening anyone.
Appreciating Athena’s decisiveness and smiling from within at her modified intelligence I said, “This letter is indescribable”.
She said,“I so needed this kick to stick to my decision … thank you… Advi…”
There came a roaring noise, “Advityaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….a….a..”
“Ohh No… that must be my mom … she needed these vegetables for today’s lunch…Bye Athena .. I must go. Uff … forget the lift, by the time it comes down I’ll reach…”
Running towards the staircase I told Athena, “One smile makes a huge difference , hence your letter is going to make a real huge difference”.
“What… what are you talking?’’
“Nothing , indescribable is the word … go and drop the letter in the letter box”.
I ran upstairs and Athena ran towards the drop box.On my way back home on the staircase I thought, “Irrespective of the outcome, decisions which one believes strongly in , lead to, if not happiness , then satisfaction. Every happy person isn't satisfied but every satisfied person is happy”.
Again came the roar, “ ADVITYAAAAAAAAAAA……” This time it was louder and it came to a halt abruptly as I stood before her…
“I’m here and the vegetables are here.”
Picking up her bag and wearing her shoes she said, ‘’I’m late to office because of you…. Your phone was also switched off… cook yourself or order food and... pay yourself”.
The doorbell just rang… It must be ‘Pritamwala’ with my Pav bhaji parcel.
“Yes I am not liking the fact that I've spent Rs.100 from my own pocket but I’m satisfied because if I would've not decided on staying downstairs , I would've never written down this epic encounter .”
P.S: I now head to fix up my phone.