Not Today (Part 2)
(A Short Story spanning a day)
It was lunch time. Adrija was sitting in the cafeteria. The two classes after Professor Ghosh’s were as boring as his and she didn’t get any time to speak to Sourav or any of the others about what was going on either. As soon as it was lunch time, Sourav rushed out of the classroom. “I have a meeting at the sports club. Catch you later, Bunny.”
“Don’t you Bunny me,” she wanted to say, but he was already out of earshot.
Just like Sourav, the rest of her classmates quickly crawled out of the classroom before she could confront them. Smita, the fashion queen of the class and a keen observer of what others wore, did not seem to notice that Adrija was wearing a different dress today, which was the oddest thing. Smita was quite known for her tart tongue.
Something was seriously wrong. Adrija could feel it in her bones.
At the cafeteria, Adrija ordered a chicken sandwich and a coke and munched on in a relatively solitary corner of the filled cafeteria. Her confidence was shaken. She dared not approach anyone anymore.
Her mind worked furiously as she chewed. She hadn’t said anything bad about someone and had been recorded saying that, had she? Not that she could remember. Adrija wasn’t the kind of person who spoke behind people’s back. Okay, a little, maybe, but generally she went along with people and they went along with her.
A smile returned to her face. “Do these people think it’s my birthday and want to surprise me later?” But her smile was short-lived. Her birthday was in February and it was only October. Also, all her friends knew when her birthday was. She checked her phone again. Not a single person had liked her good morning status! Not a single comment. No reply in her Whatsapp group. It was as if a she was placed within a microwave shield, the one she learnt about in the electromagnetic theory class. She sent out signals to the world, but they were not received because of the shield. She, Adrja Ray, was being treated like a nobody. She was sure she was going to cry. Something was definitely wrong with the Universe!
Adrija called her mother. She picked up after three rings.
“Hi Adrija! Wassup?”
“Nothing’s up, mum.”
“You never call at this time.”
“Well, I just did,” she shrugged, irritated.
“Okay, okay. Where are you? There’s much noise.”
“College. What are you doing?”
“Now, Adrija, tell me, seriously, what is wrong? You don’t call your mother at lunch and ask her what she’s doing. Not on usual days, you don’t.”
“I don’t?” For the first time Adrija realized that it was nearly two months she had last visited home. She couldn’t remember the last time she had a real conversation with her mother. The tears threatened again, but she was determined not to cry on the phone. “Well, nothing is usual about today!” she sighed.
“No? What’s unusual about today?”
Suddenly, she realized how stupid it would sound if she told her mother that no one was liking her Facebook status or replying to her messages.
“It’s nothing, mum! I gotta go, talk to you later. Love ya!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, yes, Ma. Lunch is over. I got classes! Bye!”
Adrija was back in her hostel room. She couldn’t deal with any more classes. She needed some alone time to make sense of what was going on in her life.
What if people continued to treat her like she was invisible for the rest of her life? She felt a lump form in her throat. She wasn’t used to oblivion; she wasn’t used to being alone. She felt a strong impulse to throw her phone at the wall. It took every ounce of her will-power to resist herself.
Adrija was at the salon, getting a facial. A mud pack was on her face and two slices of cucumber covered her eyes. The beautician was working at her nails, giving it a fresh coat of paint. She could feel the cool of the chemical on the nails as the brush lingered on them. It was hypnotic, she was almost falling asleep.
Adrija was sitting on the stairs outside the shopping complex, admiring her nail-art. Her nails now had little flowery patterns done in thin black lines above the pink base. Beautiful! Simply beautiful! She took a picture of the nails and shared it on Facebook via Instagram. Had she quite forgotten what a failure she was on Facebook lately? Good for her!
Lots of people were scattered on the stairs: some couples, a group of boys and girls no older than her. There were even middle-aged people who seemed to have come directly from office: they were in their formals; some even wore ties, albeit loosely wound around the neck.
To her surprise, Adrija liked sitting there, alone, watching the people. She was glad no one was asking her from where she had got her nails done or why she couldn’t get over pink. Not talking, not being loud wasn’t so bad, at least not half as bad as it was in the cafeteria.
Adrija didn’t hear him until the guy was already in front of her, asking, “Mind if I sit beside you?” He was wearing a white v-neck shirt and faded jeans. There was a small tattoo on the inner side of his wrist. It said Peace and had little birds around the word. She did not know him.
“Yes, though I don’t believe I am saying this, but I do mind. Please excuse me.” Wow. This was a first! Where was all this coming from?
Adrija found herself walking towards the ice cream parlour.
“I’ll have the chocolate,” she said, when the waiter looked at her.
…to be continued
Copyright © 2015 Arpita Pramanick
Here’s the result of the poll conducted on Day 6 of Writing 101.
Even though my short stories rank third in the poll, I decided to give it shot today because of the following reasons:
- Bettering myself at writing fiction is one of the fundamental reasons that motivated me to take W101
- After I wrote the first part of Not Today, I wanted to know more on what was going to happen with Adrija and I wanted to know it fast!
So, dear Reader, are you enjoying reading Not Today? If yes, then why? If not, why, as well? Does the narrative keep you interested, or do you feel like clicking away? Please let me know in the comments. I am looking forward to your feedback on this story.