All Fool’s Day!

Apr 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Short Stories

Exactly a dozen years ago, a girl met a boy on all fool’s day and they fell in love. The rest as they say is a dozen years of history.

It was the 16th day after the Ides of March. She had come to work about an hour early today. Yesterday Hunterwali’s memo had reminded her that she would have to “temporarily” vacate her cubicle to the editor’s blue-eyed boy, who was arriving from the UK, to work on a ”research”, around mid day. And needless to say, she had to get on top of the deadline by late morning.

But all morning all she did was stare at the cursor blinking on the blank page, her mind restless and clouded.

Last evening had not gone well. First the memo from Hunterwali at work. The office had a conference room which could be made available to this “blue-eyed-boy” but Hunterwali had declined. She was to give up her cubicle and share space with Ranjana that was final.

And then, later in the night, came the call from a voice from a not-so-distant-past.

He was the last person she had expected to hear from. The phone rang just when she was about to settle down among her cushions on the window seat with The Fountainhead.

“Hello Fly,” had said the voice.

Wait, ‘Fly’? There was only one person she knew who would call her ‘Fly’. It had to be him. He had named her “Fly” at the University’s Photography Club. That was where she, the undergraduate, had met him, a senior from the Mechanical Engineering department. Because in those days she chased one desire, freezing flying kites on celluloid, with her father’s Canon. And his favourite was freezing portraits, so she called him “Mask”.

“Yes?”

“Fly, it’s me. How have you been?”

“Have been well but could be better… why did you call? It’s late … I’ll need to …”

“Don’t hang up, please! Was thinking about you today. So I thought of calling you.”

Her eyes had started stinging from the tears that had welled up. But yesterday she didn’t cry. The flashbacks had come in jumps and cuts. Him & her at the photography exhibitions, attending Mamata Shankar’s ballet at Kalamnadir, the meal at Flury’s, watching Diabolique, the farewell, the first kiss and a pretty Smriti in his portraits. Cut!

“But I’m not sure I have anything left to talk about. How is Smriti?”

“I don’t know. I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to see you…. where is work? I could come along around lunch…”

“But I don’t want to see you!”

That was the end of the call. She had regretted disconnecting the line later. But who knows, she thought, maybe this was better. The call, in an odd sort of way, had given her hope, but she didn’t want to give in. No. She had lived with a lot of questions for the last three years. Now she was too tired to seek answers. He was now a bleak spot in her mind. Yet, somewhere she did regret disconnecting the call.

And all through this morning, that was the tussle that her mind tried her heart get over with.

“Am I supposed to wait and wait and wait? And are you supposed to keep staring at the couple of lines of whatever you have written?” A laugh followed the jibe.

The ‘blue-eyed-boy’ was punctual, Hunterwali had mentioned. But she was in no mood to take anything without a fight today. Not anymore.

“As a matter of fact, yes! You see, you are taking over my computer and my cubicle for god knows how many days, so I am trying to make sure I finish my work before being so charitable towards you!” And she returned to the press release she was writing for a steel plant inauguration.

“Do you bite too?” came another jibe.

“I just might if you continue to hover over this cubicle. I should finish by lunch, see you then!”

“You know you will be standing outside this cubicle if I want you to… ” it was a chuckle this time.

“Try!” And she continued keying in the last paragraph of the boring press release.

” Sure, let me … hang on, is that a purple box kite?” genuine surprise had replaced the snigger. “Where did you find that?”

“Look, I need to finish this, so why don’t you fly it yourself! I took that picture in Maidan, an old Britisher was trying to fly it last Sunday.”

“Go ahead, finish what you are up to, I was just joking! Can I look at your Kites gallery in the mean time?” He pointed at the soft board behind her. She hadn’t stopped chasing the kites and pinned their frozen frame up on this wall. They were an escape into the open sky, she flew with them and looked down on creation through their eyes.

“This must be from China Town during New Year? And Petkati, mombati, mukhpora, chadiyal …. You have an amazing eye for these flying objects, I must say.” It sounded like genuine praise.

But she was not up for praise either.

“I’m done. You can take over. And you will not touch my photographs!” And with that she picked up her bag. She wanted to romance the afternoon with her camera and the kites on the terrace today. Alone. She wanted to get over the call from last evening. She had to stop asking why he had left her for Smriti. She had no intention to understand why he wanted to return to her again. She didn’t want him back, not anymore.

“Err, you know, just in case I have a problem on this computer? Do you mind leaving your number?”. She came back to her cubicle, at her kites and then at the face that asked her the question, for the first time.

She saw no harm in a boy in his late twenties with big ‘That 70’s Show’ glasses, ruffled hair, a pair of white and gray Slazenger, a black t-shirt and a back pack with a British Airways baggage tag. He seemed to care a lot less about her, specially after her acerbic outburst.

“It’s up on the wall, just under the picture of the box kite.” She pointed out. “You will find Ranjana in the next cubicle pretty helpful.”

And then she left for the day.

But the phone rang again, just after she had reached the terrace, at four. Ma called her from the first floor balcony, “It’s a call from your office, are you going to take it?”

“In a minute,” she was already on her way down the stairs.

“Hi! Its me, the Hunterwali’s blue-eyed-boy who has taken over your life.” Another chortle.

By now she was somewhat back to herself, the sky had helped her release her angst.

Now she remembered, “So you have been going through my planner I left there by mistake?” she sighed.

She had marked 31st March with a fluorescent blue and had written “Hunterwali’s blue-eyed-boy takes over my life, must arrive early to finish Steel release”

“No, I was trying to look for your number.” He sounded resigned.

“I said it is up there on my board. This is my home number, I don’t take office calls on this.”

“Hang on, I tried the mobile number. But it is unfortunately switched off!” Did he sound a little flustered, but why should she care.

“So why did you call?” She was impatient, the neighbourhood boys would soon be out with their kites … she had left the camera on its tripod on the terrace.

“I had turned off your comp to go out for lunch, now it needs a password to log in … so!” Yes, he did sound inpatient and flustered.

“It is ‘fly1975’. That is f – l – y – 1 – 9 – 7 – 5 . Anything else?”

“The entry under 1st April says, ‘come to office at 8:00, before B.E.B arrives & get B.O. write-up done.’ …”

“So?”

“No, I was just wondering … I could do the morning shift and you can get your comp back by say 10. Does that work?”

‘Why is he trying to be nice to me?’ she wondered. “No, thank you! You please come at your own time, I will be there at 8:00 and you will have my cubicle all to yourself by 11:00 as usual!” She did not regret putting down the phone.

Next morning she entered her office after pacifying a grumbling Gadadhar, who also had to come early and unlock the office to let her in. She had remembered to get him some piping singara from her neighbourhood shop. Yesterday she had manage to work out a deal of getting him singara for the rest of the fortnight or for as long as she needed to arrive at 8:00.

At 8:10 a.m. Gadadhar appeared and stood there looking at the kites.

She looked up, “What is it?”

“That phirang just walked in..”

“And what business does the phirang have at this …”

“I just thought that poor you will be slogging for two hours all by yourself, so I came in to keep you company. I live in the neighbourhood.” He was already standing at the door.

Gadadhar slowly withdrew. She turned to face him. He had changed into a white t-shirt today, his hair was neatly combed and the dorky glasses had been replaced by a sleek pair of carbon frames. She quickly moved her gaze away. Why did she find him attractive all of a sudden? He was the one who had caused all the confusion in her life.

“So, all these kites, why kites?” He lowered his tall frame into the other empty chair. “Why do you only take pictures of kites?”

“I find them fascinating, I love the colours, their patterns…” She tried to turn her attention to the press release she was working on today. He was breathing down her neck already, she had to finish fast and vacate the chair to him.

“Have you tried flying one?” He was holding the picture of a diamond kite she had taken on Sankranti, in Bombay, between his fingers.

She turned around to face him, “Look, I really need a couple of hours to finish my work, then you will have the whole day to admire the kites and fly them.”

“I just asked you whether you have tried flying one of them. Have you?”

“No.”

“You must. It is a wonderful feeling. Holding the thread between your fingers, feeling the tug of the wind, controlling the winged being from the ground …. It is exhilarating!”

She was almost through with her release. She looked up from the keyboard again. He was still looking at the kites. Did that disappoint her? Perhaps. She pushed the unruly lock of hair from her face to where it belonged. And finally she was at the end of her work.

“Can we go and grab some breakfast from somewhere?” He smiled.

“I thought you lived nearby. Didn’t you have breakfast before you left?”

“Umm, nah! I was getting late. I had to get here. So shall we? Eat breakfast?”

That was it, “Let me understand this! I am have come to office at an ungodly hour because you are doing some research with our editor Ashmita, I have to vacate my cubicle and make space for you. I am getting shoved around and now I am supposed to chaperon you around and get you breakfast!”

“What about the kochuri-aloo dam at the next door cafe? I still remember the last time I had it, though not for breakfast… we’ll discuss about only kites, I promise.”

She looked straight into his eyes, they were bright, warm and smiling. She fought with all her might to say ‘no’, something had gotten her tongue it seemed. She looked at the kites again.

“I didn’t have breakfast either, was in too much of a hurry to reach on time. But Ma has packed some sandwiches, you could have some, she always packs more than I can have.”

“Gada,” he called out. Gadadhar seemed to have been somewhere very close by. He appeared in a moment and asked, “Shall I get the tea and kochuri-aloo dam?”

And she found herself smiling, the smile spread from her lips, to her eyes and reached her heart and then she heard herself laughing with a man who she knew nothing about. But for once she didn’t care anymore. They were either which way going to discuss kites, that’s about it, promise.

And it all happened on All Fool’s Day. Though they took another month to decide that they wanted to get married. And by the end of the following month they were happily married.

And the rest as they say became history in a dozen years.

Image: by Kathi_b from sxc.hu


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Soma Ghosh is a keen people watcher, a compulsive listener, a wonderer and a wanderer. These experiences one day will have a hard bound cover with her name etched on top! If you like this post, you can read more of Soma Ghosh's work on her Blog and you can also email her at somaghosh75@gmail.com

Soma Ghosh has written 3 articles on The MAG. View all articles by


6 comments
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  1. Lovely story… feel like learning to fly kites as I m missing out on something…

  2. Gorgeous. And autobiographical? The story has a soul. keep it up

  3. Lovely…..fell in love all over again!!

  4. Sharmiladi & Rashee : Thank you!

  5. Maybe you should think about writing screenplays. This piece is full of colorful visual images and the tension-attraction between Fly and BEB is so amusing that I feel as if I have just watched something of the caliber of “When Harry Met Sally.” Trust me, this would work as a “chick flick” among the best of that genre. I enjoyed it so much that I will now be forced to get back in touch with my male side! Not that I have a female side! No, really…

  6. good work….the reader tends to visualize the entire story while reading it….good work and hoping to read more of your stories……

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