Grrrrrrr!!!! Renu woke up with a start. It was 5.45 am, her usual time to wake up and yet something felt unusual today; something curdled up inside her today.
Last night she slept thinking a lot about Madhuji. Every morning Renu would witness Madhuji and the two men at the corner side bench. They were boisterous, crass and would openly comment on how she looked. Her guilt of being a mutant spectator, was making her restless. She was sure to confront those assholes today.
‘Lady in red! Wow aaj toh Neon, Aaj toh aap hot lag rahe ho!’ were just some of the subtle ‘compliments’ they gave Madhuji. Renu would try hard to keep her anger subdued until one day she walked up to Madhuji.
“How can you tolerate these comments Mam, you are an elder person!”, Renu confronted Madhuji. But before she realized her mistake, Madhuji walked away. Renu didn’t mean to comment on her age, but I guess her instincts took over today. Embarrassed and furious, she confronted the men as well.
“Don’t you have any shame, sitting here at a public place, commenting on a woman, and making jokes about it!”
One of the men, slightly older than the other signaled his friend to leave and on his way out, asked Renu to recollect the joke that offended her. To her own surprise, Renu could barely recollect the joke. Still enraged, and now embarrassed Renu walked back home, completely zoned out. Disappointed with how things played out, she wanted to give them a piece of her mind. But those men had shut her up.
For almost a week, Renu could barely wake up for her walk. But tired of being inside all day, she stepped this time for an evening stroll in the nearby market. She spotted Madhuji and subconsciously Renu followed her. Madhuji, unaware of her, strolled around the market, purchasing regular groceries, barely speaking to anyone. She then walked home, still oblivious about her follower. Renu was consumed with a vortex of emotions, that really emerged from her guilt. She paced much faster than she ever did before.
In a small dingy lane, Madhuji entered an old building that had a dark stairway. Climbing the stairs, Renu followed ensuring that she wasn’t obvious. Madhuji rang the bell on the house of the 4th floor, while Renu meekly climbed, to ensure Madhuji did not notice yet. Her heart sank, when the door opened. It was the man from the corner block who cracked the crass jokes with his ally, every morning. He was the accomplice, the annoying one whose unruly laughter would infuriate Renu to the core.
When he opened the door, he embraced Madhuji, and asked her if she bought his favorite snack from the shop. Madhuji smiled and entered the house. Renu was numb. Not because of the mystery that unfolded in these few minutes, in that dark stairway, but because she couldn’t meet eyes with Madhuji, who was now smiling back at her.
This was a short story attempt long time ago, but something that tugs me in a wierd way. Hit up the comments button, and let me know what you think about this. Cheers!