Also linking with Alphabe-Thursday: letter W
She had not had her breakfast. And so her first instinct was to ignore the slight reeling of her head. The moment passed and she did not think much into it. With three cases running simultaneously in her mind, she had room for nothing more in there. The next time the reeling lasted a little longer. She thought she might faint. She decide to grab a quick snack, just in case. So, she got up from her seat, grabbed a file to be dropped on a colleagues’ desk en route and marched towards the office canteen. The confident straight foot falls that had garnered their share of head-turner when she had been new in the place. Two years and a couple of months later, people had gotten used to her presence.
As she crossed by her manager’s seat, she heard her name being called out. “How come you’re walking around? It’s an earthquake for goodness sake”.
Ah! An earthquake. That explained her revolving head. She relaxed. She was not fainting.
Her team-members “isn’t she weird look” made her realize that relaxing was wrongly-timed,
But, she did not feel the panic. She did not feel the fear. And now that she was standing, her head did not swirl. Somehow she could not relate to the scare that had people clamoring for stairs.
But then she had never had a history of conforming.
The table-fan at her colleagues desk was definitely springing now. And so there was no point left to disagree. She knew she would be following the commotion.
The fire exit was teeming with crowd from eight floors.
No further than a couple of stairs, she stopped again. Her manager looked at her with those “no way, you are not planning to go back in there”?
Over the din, she shouted the name of her bestie, Sanjula, to the manager.
They both stopped “what about her”?
“ I have to go back .. she … her … “ Oh great … when she needed them the most, the words left her.
She looked at the crowd. Sanjula, where are you?
When she saw Sanjula’s team on the stairs, she went weak in her knees. She asked them all, but they said something that died down in the noises. She panicked. Sanjula was on family way. Advanced stages. Last trimester.
She looked ahead. Her manager who was urging her on. Encouraging her to move. She looked back. There were people all over.
But no Sanjula.
She went up to her manager and told her the facts. Narrated them. Like she did on the court’s affidavit. Factual position without emotions.
Oh silly girl, just call her up.
I am trying but the call is just not connecting.
Well, then keep trying and keep moving.
The oncoming rush swallowed her.
As they neared the ground floor, she felt guilty. Of leaving Sanjula behind. She looked back. The friend circle was walking down the stairs. She mouthed Sanjula’s name. They had not seen her either.
Desperately, she called again. Unreachable. The fear that she had not felt for herself gripped her now. She prayed as she dialed again. Nothing. No ring. No buzz. No Sanjula. She looked at her phone, it still showed dialing. And then after infinity 0:01 “ where are you” “ you tell” “ …. …. … open“ she said something but the voice cracked. She kept the call going.
Upper ground. She slowed. Moved away from the exit. Towards the cubicles. Away from the crowd. Her manager. Her friends.
Where are you?
Just reached outside.
Already in the ground?
See you there.
Sprited, she joined the crowd. Her manager and her friends. The courage that had left her for the moment made her feel weak. Or perhaps it was the lack of breakfast. And five flight of stairs.
When they made it to the open, her eyes searched and saw Sanjula smiling over something. Their eyes met and acknowledged each other. She relaxed and joined the nearest conversation.
“Has it passed”?
“Did you feel it”?
“God, look at all these buildings, we were better off in there”
“Do you plan to go back and work”
“Yaar, anyways, it is Saturday”
Frivolous banter. Anything to keep their minds off the temblor.
And then she found herself following these people back to the cubicles.
Nobody wanted to wait in sun for aftershocks.
Files, and statements and deadlines were calling out to them.
And just as she was typing out the last lines to some important letter, she heard the rumpus again. The table-fan was dancing again. And people were gathering near the fire exit.
She picked up both her handbag and phone. And was already calling Sanjula as she joined the hoo-ha.