(A Short Story spanning a day)
Adrija smiled as she woke up from the dream. She saw herself sipping her favourite cup of hot chocolate in an open-air restaurant she had never been before. The flooring underneath was cobbled. Four wicker chairs surrounded each table with white tablecloth and a vase of freshly plucked long-stemmed flowers.
Today is going to be a great day, thought Adrija as she walked to the wash-basin.
Ardija flipped open the cover of her smart-phone and checked for notifications of good morning messages on Whatsapp and Facebook. Unlike most popular girls at college, Adrija was admired by both boys and girls because of her easy manners and approachable demeanour. She was slightly plump and dark and had a long, flowing mane. She was forever buzzing with activity and filled with oodles of confidence.
No notifications? Adrija’s face fell.
“Not an issue,” she smiled and typed it into her group of college friends on Whatsapp: Good morning, beautiful people! She added in a few cute-looking smileys and hit Send. She sent a similar one to her group of school friends.
Adrija collected her bucket and walked to the bathroom. Six girls shared this bathroom and almost everyone left the house at the same time, so the mornings were pretty busy. There was already a queue in front of the bathroom, made by buckets. The blue one in front of the row belong to Sayani, the pink one to Aditi, the bigger, iron one to Rita. Adrija placed hers at the end of the line and returned. She met Sayani at the end of the corridor.
“Hi, you!” Sayani smiled briefly and walked past Adrija.
“What happened to her?” Adrija muttered to herself. Usually, Sayani was a chatterbox and Adrija would take great steps to avoid her if she was in a hurry.
Once in her room, Adrija checked her phone again. There was still no notification on Whatsapp. What happened to everyone?
She quickly opened Facebook and wrote a status: Good morning people, wakey wakey!! and tagged her bunch of college buddies.
Everyday her friends would be online at this time, furiously commenting and liking her status. They’d send her jokes and funny quotes on Whatsapp. Not today.
Adrija had bathed and was brushing her hair in front of the mirror. She wore a new dress today, a salwar-kameez that she had not worn to college before.
The phone-thing was biting her at the back of her mind. What the hell happened to all the people? Why was nobody replying to her texts and status? Had everyone suddenly gone off the phone and internet? Impossible!
Adrija decided to call her classmate, Sourav. The phone rang for a long time. No one picked up. “Must be getting ready for college! I should get the breakfast, too.”
With still no notification on her phone, Adrija slowly walked the college corridor. People were rushing past her, busy talking among themselves. No one looked at her. She saw a group of juniors in front of the physics lab, poring over their lab files. Almost all of them knew her from the Music club or Nature club or Science club.
She walked towards them and tapped a bespectacled girl by the name of Leni on the shoulder, “Writing lab reports, are we?”
Leni turned and smiled. “Yes, Adrija Di. Kinda busy. Catch you laters?”
“Yes, yes. Sure thing!” Adrija walked on, curious how none of the others turned to speak to her. Usually, they’d crowd around her and ask her something about the lab report. She had taken the same subject in a previous semester.
The professor drew a series of sine curves on the blackboard, to explain the effect of Frequency Modulation. Adrija was sitting beside Sourav. She poked him in the arm with her pen and whispered, “Why didn’t you pick up?”
Sourav gave her the ‘don’t disturb me now’ look and scribbled on, matching pace with the professor. Adrija placed her right hand on his copy and eyed him. He glared at her and muttered in a dark voice, between clenched teeth, “What?”
“Why didn’t you pick up the phone? I called. And sent a bunch of text on Whataspp and Facebook, too. I thought you had died.”
“I was busy.” He removed her hand from the copy and attempted to continue his drawing. Adrija quickly placed her hand on the copy again and muttered, “Busy? That’s it?”
The professor turned then. “Adrija, dear, what exactly are you two discussing? Care to share with us?”
“It’s nothing, sir, really!” Adrija gulped. Professor Ghosh was a stern man. He took no crap.
“Nothing, sir. Nothing, I promise.” She frothed in anger and wanted to burn Sourav at the stake, but managed to keep an apologetic smile on her face.
“Are you sure?” Professor Ghosh asked again. His eyes were non-blinking, like a fish.
“Yes, sir! I am sorry.”
“Good,” said the grave professor, “If anyone else has anything to discuss, please feel free to carry on outside the class. Now, moving on the what we were discussing…”
Adrija glared at Sourav as soon as the professor removed his eyes from her. But Sourav wasn’t looking at her. He was busy listening to Professor Ghosh. Adrija had never seen him so sincere.
…to be continued
Copyright © 2015 Arpita Pramanick
Note to the Reader: What do you think is different for Adrija today? Why are the people around her suddenly behaving strangely? Let me know in the comments below.
Note to the ‘Writer’ cum Reader: How is Not Today shaping up? Are you interested in what is happening in Adrija’s life? What’s the best thing about this story and what’s the weakest? Please share your advice with me!