This is a first-person narrative from the point of view of Anahita Sahani – the protagonist of High School Never Ends – a book my sister, Kritika, and I are working on. The story published here is based on the same characters, the timeline matches the events in the book, and the narrative style is exactly the same. However, these stories are in addition to what’s in the book, ergo, exclusive. 😛
May 10, 2014
2 inches away from the car
I gave her a long, hard stare that went unnoticed because she was busy staring at her phone. I sat there wondering how someone could be so vengeful and stupid so early in the morning. Not that I was surprised at the stupidity, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting it from her. I had seen enough of that crap when I was in my teens, and at 25 I did not have the patience for this shit.
“But that’ll get her back, right?” she asked me. “The perfect revenge.”
You should write novels, I wanted to tell her. Instead, I said, “Do you really want to do that? You can never take it back, you know.” I couldn’t believe I was counselling someone who was seven years older than I was.
“I don’t care. I don’t think I ever want to talk to her again,” came the retort.
And that’s when I gave her the how-could-you-be-so-stupid stare. Obviously, she didn’t get it.
“Listen, I have to be at work,” I told her as I looked at my watch. “There’s an emergency meeting. If you think what you’re doing is right, please don’t let me stop you.”
I kind of wanted to see how it would turn out, actually. As a ‘friend’ I had warned her. It wasn’t going to be on me.
Speaking of friends, would you call someone who constantly sent you forwards on WhatsApp and cornered you in the elevator asking you for help with getting back at her real friends and solutions for her marital problems, a friend? I wasn’t married, I had no idea how to deal with her marital issues and yet, somehow I was the one she turned to when she had a problem.
But hey, when she hosted a kitty or went drinking with the other women in the building, I was ‘too young’ to be a part of that crowd. If she was really a friend she wouldn’t have bothered to ask me. I’d have loved her even if she just kidnapped me and I opened my eyes in a bar.
Wait. For that, she’d have to ask me stuff about myself, no? But Mrs Grewal had too many grown-up problems of her own that she was hell-bent on dealing with as if she were a teenager.
The current problem at hand was that two of her friends who had met through her were now suddenly getting along pretty well. They were even hanging out. She had no idea how happy it would make me if Tanisha, Sophia, and Bani could stay in the same room for more than twenty minutes without taking a jab at each other. And here the bitch was complaining that her friends were being friendly to each other. But I think what pissed her off more was not that they were hanging out, but that they did that without her.
Did marriage do that to people? Make them even more crazily possessive than they already were? Because it wasn’t just her friends she had an issue with. If she was to be believed, Mr Grewal was the worst possible man on earth because he didn’t *cough* make her breakfast in bed, or take her on that vacation, and he was always working.
“But Ana, it’s a Saturday. It’s only 8 AM!” she exclaimed. I went to work every Saturday. And most Sundays. But how would she know that? She wasn’t interested in me or the things that I did.
“I’m just on my way to the gym and you’re already leaving for work? You are just like my…” she started to say but stopped and raised her eyebrows.
I ignored that remark.
“The Channel is having their guy come in for a meeting. I have to rush, I’ll see you in the evening,” I said as I opened the door of my car, the one that I was standing right next to for the past several minutes, and got in. Gosh, Reena – my next door neighbour – and I were going to laugh about this later. That is if Oedipus wouldn’t interrupt the conversation every few seconds.
I waved goodbye to Pinky.
Yeah, that was her name. Her real name. We had one more ridiculous addition to the list of North Indian idiosyncrasies. More on this later. As I drove off I saw that she stood there with her hands on her hips as if she was waiting for me to blow her a kiss.
I looked at my watch. I had a good thirty minutes before I had to reach Film City and I could maybe stop for a coffee. But I wanted to spring up on Neel and ask him a few questions myself before Mr Jugnu Happa, the Deputy Head of Vega TV – the Channel that aired the show I worked for – would show up with his “comments” on our work. He had called an emergency meeting to discuss some issues with the show, so the entire team had to be present. *eye roll*
As I drove, I wondered why it bothered Pinky so much that her friends were becoming friends. Pinky and I were on a first name basis, but I liked to tease (read: annoy) her by calling her Mrs Grewal. Somehow being called that was her equivalent of ‘Aunty mat kaho naa.’
But that’s what it was about her. Such trivial things disturbed her so much to the point that she went on and on about them. Fortunately for me, my job barely allowed me to be in the house, let alone be available to talk to her about her issues. But she more than made up for that by sneaking up on me. Her husband’s late nights made it easier for her to catch up with me in the lift.
I didn’t know whether I should feel special that she waited up for me or creeped out that she not only waited up but watched from her window to see when my car entered the compound so she could catch me in the lift. It wasn’t as if she used only the 30 seconds or so in the lift to talk to me. She got off on my floor and stood by my door – that I deliberately wouldn’t open until she left – and chatted with me.
Neel, my second in command at work, would invariably call to let me know if there was anything I should know about before I came into work the following day. He used to send me a WhatsApp message but I told him it’d be better if he’d call instead. In fact, I insisted that he call me every day without fail.
So within ten minutes of reaching my house, my phone would ring. I’d look at the screen and flash it to Pinky who clearly saw “Bozo” flashing on it.
“I have to take this. It’s my boss,” I would tell her. Neel, Bozo that he was, had no idea that he was helping me get out of a conversation I didn’t want to be a part of. And Pinky would immediately hug me goodbye and run two floors up. It was her ‘exercise.’
But it looked like today wasn’t going to be an ordinary day. ‘Emergency’ meeting didn’t sound like it was going to rain roses or praises. I just wanted to get in earlier and talk it out with Neel, just to have our stories straight in case there was going to be some blame game going on. Obviously, a blunder had happened. I had no idea what it could be, but I was going to find out.
…To be continued.