Team Blog-o-holics’ first entry.
Walking on high heels can be a pain, thought Tara, as she stopped to adjust the straps of her wedges. She placed a hand on little Roohi’s shoulders for support as she struggled with them. Everything in place, they started walking, Tara almost dragging her 9 year old daughter. “Hurry up, Roohi, or we’ll be late for school.” Roohi, however, tried to walk at her slowest, hoping against hope that they’ll be so late that she could ultimately skip school. Who wants to go to school when you haven’t done the homework and were asked to get a note on your diary signed by your parents but didn’t, right? She hoped her class teacher would somehow ignore what she did on her friend’s back with colors yesterday. Her hopes were soon in vain as she saw the Convent building looming nearby.
Tara heaved a huge sigh of relief as she tightened the ribbons on Roohi’s two ponytails and packed her off at the school’s entrance. “Try not to be naughty today, Roohi!” she called after her daughter. She adjusted her large designer tote while watching Roohi disappear inside the building and then decided to walk the remaining distance to her office, which was nearby. She worked at Headlines Today and loved her job, especially since it offered her flexible hours and a fat cheque at the end of the month. It’d have been so easier if Shekhar also worked full time at some job, she thought. But 10 years ago she had taken the plunge knowing full well that Shekhar would be writing full-time. It meant irregular pay but she was glad he could stay at home and look after their daughter. You can’t trust the nannies these days. Look at all the news reports coming in where children were abused by their tutors & nannies.
As she walked immersed in her thoughts she started feeling a little uneasy. You know the feeling you get when someone watches you intently? She turned to look but nobody was around at this early hour. Except a morning walker wearing grey track pants and a black hoodie who was sitting on a stone bench, texting. Tara shrugged and dismissed the feeling. It must be the fight she had with Shekhar today. Or maybe the one she had had with the Autowallah. She must give credit to Shekhar though. Whenever they fought, he was always the first one to hug her and say sorry, his graphite eyes ever smiling through his thin golden specs. But the Autowallah! She felt her blood boil as she recalled their argument earlier. First of all he had the audacity to ask for 300 Rs. just to go a few km. And then when she had bargained, he had spit his paan right next to where she stood, as if the whole world was a giant spittoon! Poor chap will always remember the lecture he got this morning on manners, she thought. All this could’ve been avoided if only Shekhar had remembered to take the car to the mechanic for repairs. All these years and she still wasn’t used to living with a writer!
She felt the sensation again as if she was being watched. She increased her pace a little, her heels making a clack-clack sound on the cemented pavement. Her office was on the next block after the traffic signal. She could see the tall building with the hoardings but it would take 6-7 minutes to cover the distance on foot. Suddenly, she became aware of another sound matching her pace, not very distinct but certainly there. She stole a glance backwards and caught a glimpse of a tall, slim figure wearing a black hoodie. Was it the same man she saw earlier? Her heart leapt to her mouth and she could hear her blood pounding as sinister images formed in her head. She increased her pace as she noticed a chai-wallah opening his shop at a distance. Relief flooded her as she saw another person and decided to stop at the stall and ask for help if needed.
As she got near the shop, she felt the person behind her come closer every second, taking long strides. She felt as though she’d have a heart attack as the person overtook her, slightly grazing her shoulders, when she reached the shop. She stopped abruptly and heaved a sigh of relief. Really, wearing a hoodie isn’t a crime you know, she chastised herself on her childishness. The hoodie man must have been in a hurry.
She walked at a leisurely pace to her office and headed straight to the washroom to straighten her formal shirt and fix her lipstick. It wouldn’t do to appeared flushed in front of her colleagues. After she applied some gloss on her lips, she moved over to the window and opened it a little to get some fresh air in her system and calm her frazzled nerves.
Was that a flash of a black hoodie she saw around the corner?
Read the next installment to this story here.