Working Late – A Short Story


Naomi got off the elevator. She had her laptop bag with her, stuffed to overflowing with papers that needed to be looked at once she got back home. It was already 9 pm, and she didn’t really relish what the rest of the evening had in store for her. She had been travelling, and while she’d closed some good deals, what work she’d left behind, seemed to have been put into a multiplier machine.

She sighed as she walked out of the office building, hoping for a cab. Cabs were quite hard to come by at that late hour. She waited for ten minutes with no luck.

She decided to walk down to the train station. On the way, she saw an ATM, and decided to withdraw some cash, as she was running low. The whole road was deserted. She thought longingly of hot dinner followed by her favourite movie and the prospect of the weekend.

But no, it was only Monday, and the week stretched ahead without any end in sight.

She stood her laptop case on the ground, between her legs, as she extracted her wallet from the utter chaos inside her handbag.

This was one of those ATMs that was on the road; no booth attached to it. As she inserted her ATM card into the slot, she sensed, rather than saw someone behind her. She pushed her eyeballs as far as they would go, to see the person. She saw a black hoodie and blue jeans. She quickly withdrew the money, pressed ‘No’ for a printed receipt, picked up her bag and walked away as quickly as she dared, without making eye contact.

Just as she was about a 100 metres away, she heard footsteps echoing across the pavement. She turned; it was the same man, from the ATM.

She had to make a dash for it. He had seen her withdrawing cash. To run, she needed to get out of her high-heels, which she did. She broke into a run.She could hear her heart pumping and bellowing in her ear drums.The man called out as she ran.

Furtive glances showed that he was running as well.  She had read and seen so many things like this and knew she had to think smart. She  mentally ran through a list of the things she had in her handbag that could come in handy.

The roads continued to disappoint. There was not a soul in sight. Where was everbody? And finally, hurray! there was a Starbucks, glowing warmly, in the distance.

She invested all her energies into that last sprint to safety. A glance backwards showed that the man had slowed down.

She decided to bolt into Starbucks, and call the cops if required. She was completely out of breath as she opened the door at Starbucks. Totally drained out and relieved.

In just two minutes, the man opened the door too..! She gasped in shock. What would he do?

As she stood frozen, her mouth preparing to scream for help, he said, “Miss, you left your ATM card behind.”

Rendezvous


My mom is staying with us for the holidays.

She is visibly excited. It is 5.50 p.m. and she is all set to go down to the park in the condo to meet her friends.

In the short time she has been with us, my mom has made friends, six friends to be precise.

However, this is a rendezvous with a difference. These seven women who meet every evening, do not speak the same language. Five of them are from different parts of India and the other two friends are from Japan and Korea.

A few of them speak English, but otherwise they use a mix of their own language, and English,  to communicate or just use gestures and sign language. They spend a good hour and a half together every evening, talking about their sons, daughters and grandchildren. They also talk about their spouses, many of whom are no more. 

Sometimes they have their evening tea or coffee by the pool, with each of them bringing something to eat. 

My mother takes me one evening to introduce me to her friends.

I say, “Namaste”! 

All of them radiate love and happiness. The Japanese lady bows gracefully. I am truly amazed, she gestures with her hand that she has a daughter like me. I understand perfectly. All of them smile and nod in acknowledgement.

All these women, probably in their seventies or eighties, deriving so much joy from making new friends at this stage in their lives, their eagerness to accept and share their thoughts and feelings, through the universal  language of love!

Truly, friendship has no barriers.