An Uncomfortable Interaction

Week 3: The Journey of a Lost Girl, Hustling her way through Life

Continued from last week.



“So why you fasting?” I ask Lady Chaplin casually.

“Err… Prerna, there is no specific reason.” I can tell, she is caught off-guard and I repent for making her uncomfortable.

“Arre, what’s the matter re, you already have a husband, what will a fast get you, another one?” Sandy pitches in, making me repent even more.

“NO. I don’t want ANY husband. Why don’t you stop talking about marriage to me?” She picks up her lunchbox, empties the contents in the trash nearby and rushes out of the cafeteria.

There are other groups having lunch nearby, who give us this look which can make any adult shiver, “What did you do this girl?”

“What did I do? I was just pulling her leg man! What can I do if she is so sensitive.” Sandy’s casual remark was enough to make all of us even more uncomfortable.

“Do you even have idea what she is going through?” questions Karthik.

“Big deal, it is just a divorce!” More than the news, it is Sandy’s insensitive smirk that makes me sick.

“Love marriages too end in divorce?” I ask, surprised at my own question.

Urmila and Rajan are sitting with their heads bowed down, circling the spoon in their respective empty lunch boxes. By the blank look on their faces, I wonder if they are already imagining not to get married ever.

I enter the lady’s restroom and find Lady Chaplin sobbing. I try to pacify her, but really I am clueless. What do you say to someone who is crying? What can soothe pain, that too an emotional one, as I am assuming she is in? Why am I assuming even, can’t I ask her? I know I am scared of asking. But scared of what? Hurting her even more?

In my thoughts, I freeze. I have a blank look on my face. I see myself in the mirror, I too am crying, but it can’t be seen outside. No one but me can hear it. I don’t know why I am so affected by Lady Chaplin’s cries. She is just a colleague, she is not even family, all right maybe lunch family, but I have hardly known her personally.

I decide to take a bold step. I hand her a set of tissues and rush to her desk to get her water bottle. Then I touch her shoulder and tell her, “Come, let’s get some air.”

“Air means O2.You too need O2, me too….” She utters this and it doesn’t make any sense.

“You too, O2, me too, get the rhyming Prerna?” She attempts to make me laugh.

I must say I am not very impressed, staying true to my bold step, I tell her, “Please don’t hide your sadness, let it be.”

Silence. We don’t talk, we just see employees passing by. We sit on a bench for around 30 minutes. I think about giving her some pep talk. While preparing, the thoughts in my head were in this order.

“This too shall pass… Nope, don’t say this, it’s too cliché.”

“Divorce is normal these days… No, what am I even saying? Who am I, census woman?”

“Yours was a love marriage right, what happened?” A big red alarm starts blaring in my head; I stop this line of thought immediately.

“Why did you cry? Umm… well, it’s her choice.” One of the Roadies’ episodes flashes in front of my eyes.

“You know what, marriages are crap anyway. Look at mine, I am cleaning shit… Oh, these words are too painful to even me, how can I say all this to her. Big pot-teeee!”

I decide to save my words for a better day. I wonder on the uncanny resemblance to the life of famous comedian based on whom I nicknamed her, Charlie Chaplin. I recall the instances when she is so ecstatic. But how is she able to do it!

Generating an immense level of joy out of excruciating pain in the inner core? It doesn’t make any sense. Or maybe it is a way of covering up?

Overacting to hide the pain…

This reminds me of the parlour didi who did my face make-up for my engagement ceremony. To cover up the tiny whiskers which I flatly refused to get threaded, she overloaded my upper lips with heavy foundation and face powder, which not only my skin, but my mother-in-law also refused to absorb.

I ended up looking like Queen Elizabeth’s face over a desi Indian bride’s body.

Are the funniest people always heart-broken on the inside? Are they trying to cheer themselves up by being funny?

Lady Chaplin interrupts my thoughts, “Hope I am not troubling you Prerna? I am sorry for what happened up there. I feel very guilty, holding you here.”




To be continued…next Wednesday.




Reader | Seeker | Thinker | Writer | Tsundoku | Stationery Fetishist | A Yogi for Life | I write about life 🌿, inside and around me.

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Shobhana Jha

Shobhana Jha

Reader | Seeker | Thinker | Writer | Tsundoku | Stationery Fetishist | A Yogi for Life | I write about life 🌿, inside and around me.

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