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“Psst! Come here!” Ayesha turned around and found Mrs. Fernandes beckoning her.
She moved cautiously, for Mrs. Fernandes, with her sharp features, still-strong posture and commanding voice looked formidable.
Ayesha had settled into a routine of daily morning walks. Although she found the group of ladies far too boisterous and loud for her, she enjoyed the daily conversations. For some time, it made her forget everything that was hurtful and painful in her life.
It was the fourth day of her morning walk.
“What’s your name, dearie?” The senior lady asked, not unkindly.
“Ok. What do you call that thing that the girl is wearing?” Mrs.Fernandes pointed to a girl who was jogging at the other end of the park.
Ayesha looked at her and said. “It’s tank-top.”
“Do you think you can order one for me online?”
Ayesha looked at Mrs. Fernandes, feeling like Alice in Wonderland.
“You want me to order a tank-top for you?” Ayesha repeated in a dry tone, just to confirm that she hadn’t misunderstood the senior.
“Yes. I think it will look good on me. Now, don’t turn immediately, but to my right, you can see a group of guys sitting on a bench.” Mrs. Fernandes whispered.
Ayesha’s natural inclination was to look immediately, but a strong ‘Hmmmm!’ from the senior lady made her pause for a few seconds and then she carefully looked at the bench.
“Can you see the guy in the red shirt and khaaki three-fourths? Well, he keeps looking at me at every possible chance. I think he has the hots for me!” Mrs.Fernandes smiled with barely compressed glee and Ayesha fought the strong urge to slap her palm on her forehead. The bench that the senior lady had pointed to, was occupied by men who must be in their seventies or eighties. But sure enough, the old guy in the red-shirt was indeed looking at Mrs. Fernandes much more than required.
“Okay. I will bring my mobile tomorrow and you can choose the top that you want.” Ayesha said, unable to believe that she was actually going to order a tank-top for an eighty-year old lady.
“Now that’s a good girl! I plan to wear it and give that guy a stroke!” Mrs.Fernandes laughed at her own joke and made Ayesha smile.
What has my life come to? I am grieving, and I am going to play matchmaker to two 80-year oldies by ordering a tank-top, a blasted tank-top for the lady?? Ayesha thought in despair and refrained from shaking her head.
“Hey, it’s him, the handsome runner!” Mrs. Khan’s whisper brought a sudden mini-commotion in the group and Ayesha saw the ladies, except Mrs. Fernandes, sit up straight and run a hand through their hair.
“Am I looking okay?” Mrs. Mehta asked in concern.
“Yes, you are looking very pretty. If I sit like this, can you see the tire around my waist?” Mrs. Iyer said in alarm.
“No, you look fit and fine, don’t worry. Now act casual, ladies, and Mrs. Singh, behave yourself. No letting go of air from any end. The guy may doubt each and every one of us.” Mrs. Kulkarni whispered loudly and Ayesha looked at her mom in disbelief. The other ladies, including Mrs. Singh, giggled in unison but sobered up quickly.
Sure enough, the runner guy passed by them, saying ‘Good morning, ladies’ to which all the ladies replied with an exaggerated wave of their hands and wide smiles and loud cheers of ‘Good Morning!’.
“Girls will always be girls.” Mrs. Fernandes chuckled. She looked at Ayesha suddenly. “What about you? You didn’t find him attractive?”
“No, I didn’t pay much attention to him,” Ayesha said dully.
“Wow, I haven’t seen that sad a face since MS Dhoni got run out in the match of World Cup.” Mrs.Fernandes smiled and when Ayesha didn’t respond, she pressed her further. “What’s the matter, dearie? May be I can help.”
What’s the matter? What can I say? How do you tell someone that their very faith has been shaken up and that there is a constant pain in the heart that simply refuses to go away? Ayesha thought in despair.
Mrs. Fernandes laid a hand on her head and that simple and kind gesture brought tears in Ayesha’s eyes.
“I just broke off with my boyfriend of five years. He fell out of love.” Just saying these words made her want to curl up and cry again.
As she hurriedly wiped her eyes with her kerchief, she saw someone standing in front of her. It was the runner guy who was smiling at her and was holding a white rose in his hand. Apparently, he had come back seeing her dull face.
“Smile, it is a beautiful day.” He said to her pleasantly and in spite of herself, Ayesha took the rose and nodded gratefully towards the guy. Waving to her he ran off.
“It must be hard. It is never easy to say goodbye to the people we love.” Mrs.Fernandes said thoughtfully. She looked at the white rose in Ayesha’s hand and asked her. “What is your age?”
“I will be 24 in two months.”
Mrs. Fernandes chuckled. “When I was your age, I was already a widow, and my biggest concern was finding the next meal for my two kids.”
Ayesha sat musing over Mrs. Fernandes’ statement. She was lost in her thoughts when suddenly, she felt as if she was cornered. Sure enough, when she looked around, the group of ladies had surrounded her, looking at her in disbelief and anger.
“Of all the ladies here, he chose you to give this rose to?” This was from Mrs. Kulkarni who had her hands on her hips and was staring at Ayesha in mock anger.
This time, Ayesha did slap her palm to her forehead and handed over the rose to her mom who held it as if it were a precious gem. When the other ladies lunged forward to grab it from Mrs. Kulkarni, Ayesha decided that she had seen enough for the day, and got up from her seat. She was about to say bye to Mrs.Fernandes but she saw the senior cheering up the ladies, waving her fists and shouting at them to ‘Go, Get it!’.
What have I landed myself into?? Thoroughly amused, Ayesha walked away from the bench.
(More of the ladies’ shenanigans coming up in the next one!)
Image via Youtube
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