‘Okay. Let’s just get this over with. I’ve got work to do’, she said in quite a carefree manner. The meeting was at 3 and she was there right in time. Maybe that’s how it was at hers. I got my questionnaire out and set the recorder. First there were the introductions – the early life, usual grounds. But she was reluctant and I didn’t dig deeper for I knew what I was doing. Then, I asked about how she managed to get settled Bano Araa? And she burst into laughter and I knew it was again a stupid question to begin with. But then to my surprise she became serious and started sharing phrases -Incomplete, yet with full stops. ‘I’m used to spend my spare time in this airy, brightened room of the top floor from where only I can stare at people and no one can gawk at me. Gazes – never really liked ’em. One time I spat on a client’s face due to this and…(she laughed again)…I got a gift of two extra shifts.’ Then, there was a pause and I kept receiving blank stares. She was doing the exact thing that she’d just mentioned she loathed, rubbernecking in the dark corner of the room.
I gathered my culpability and got to my next one. This time I asked her about getting vamoose and there she caught my sympathy. But this time she didn’t laugh, she just smiled at me and then, again started the staring. Time was running very fast and even though the room was airy and brightened she seemed a little suffocated.
“Two times…no three times have I tried to escape from this suffocation…”, still staring, “and I had to pay a fine of four nights.” This time she laughed again. How many promises, how many hopes, how much counseling fed by God-knows how many customers all brought her back to this airy, brightened room again- Deceits delusions, she later explained to the numb soul sitting beside her.
“Anything that brings a little comfort to those scary bellows inside you?”, and I knew I was getting another sarcastic answer again. But she tackled it beautifully and smiled in the air again. “The balcony outside gives me a view of the next two blocks. Every morning, I rush towards this balcony to see children going to school. The sight soothes me in ways I can’t explain. I wave at them but not a single one looks this way. Maybe they’re told not to by their mothers. Mothers.. .’ She remembered something and this time I saw a little ice break and it was comfortable for me to catch up.
“That’s it”, the clock struck seven and she knew it was time. “After all, time is money my friend’, she uttered as an eerie silence settled in the air while giving me her final goodbye.
“How desperately I want her to stay and listen to my every single screech, my every complaint, and to give me some phony hopes. But..”, she wondered. The dusk was near and the air in there was getting more and more chilly. The sun was setting, drowning her hopes in that crimson awe and the birds going home betraying her yet again this evening. And there she was in the trance where she always used to find herself in the duo of trial and penalty and come back as a runner-up every night. The knock on the door woke her up. It was time. She started wearing her sandals again. She had to get her makeup right. She loathed every single color now. The door knocked again. It was duty time.