The Waiting Lady

Posted: May 27, 2012 in Short Stories

It was a bright winter morning in Delhi, it was December, with the birds twittering in the trees, it was a perfect morning, free of fog and Sun was to hit the sky after three cloudy and fog hit days.

She turned at the corner, swept a lock of her face. She was strikingly beautiful, someone interesting, with a pointed face and sparkling eyes. She was dressed in a yellow Salwar Kameez, and a light pink pullover, she crossed the road holding onto her Dupatta which kept being blown around by the wind.

She walked into the restaurant and sat at the corner table, with a slight look of anticipation and excitement. The newspaper guy on the corner pavement turned back to his stand. There was a guy with a camera in his hand who too seemed to not take away his eyes from the lady. He was in late twenties, a tall handsome man, with a ‘well to do’ look about himself, clad in blue jeans, and a leather jacket with long hair, overall he was handsome.

The newspaper guyy cleared his throat, the ‘ahem’ of clearing a throat to get attention. The guy with the camera turned with a sheepish expression.

Uh…, Times’

The newspaper guy gave him the paper and his change.

‘Every day the same thing’

‘Excuse me..’

‘Well Every morning she comes and sits at the same table in the same corner of the restaurant. Then after a couple of hours wait she goes back’

‘Every day?’

‘Yaa, every day’

‘For how long?’

‘About a month’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know.’

The guy with a camera was a reporter who could sniff out an important story, a story close to life, a story that could be his chance to fame. He walked into the restaurant and tried to strike up a conversation with the lady who just looked away disinterested, somehow his boyish charms were of no use on her, maybe she was meant for someone else, waiting for someone else. He immediately clicked a picture.

The next morning the paper guy was most surprised to find the photo of the restaurant lady in the newspaper and that too on the first page. There was a column by a person who wrote about the mystery lady who for more than a month had been sitting at the same table in the same restaurant just waiting, waiting for a month, the same solitary routine each day. The author left the ending open.
The article said ‘… What is she waiting for? a lover who jilted her? Who would do such a thing in such a great city? A lady with a painful wait, a wait that grows heavy each day… Who’s she waiting for ?’

The next day the newspaper guy was unloading his newspapers from the autorickshaw when a news van drove up to the restaurant, the one with a satellite antennae on top of it. A news crew unloaded their equipment in a hurry. Around half an hour later, the same lady appeared, Salwar Kameez and dupatta again, somehow she looked perfect in it.  She turned the corner to find an entire camera crew waiting to pounce on her, with a reporter trying to stick his mike into her face.

“Ma’am what’s your name?”
“Where are you from”
“Is it true that you come to the same restaurant each day, and wait for someone for a couple of hours”
“How does it feel? to wait for so long”

She gave him a stare that had him out of the way instantly and then walked back to the table. And all the cameras made sure to capture the pain and distress on her face, the mysterious blue eyed lady with a painful, long wait.

That evening the news channel did an exclusive on the lady by the corner table. They spoke about the pain, the suffering that was seen in those beautiful eyes. About how she walked to the restaurant from her house about 100 meters, each day. About how she hardly spoke to anyone. About how pretty she looked. And there were psychiatrists, explaining how this wait can turn lethal for her in future, how she must learn to move on… and much more.

The girl’s name was Meghana and she was 23 years old. She had just completed her masters in science from Delhi University. There was an interview with her college principal who had wonderful things to say about her, which was odd because he had joined about two months back, six months after she left college. She was a topper in school and college, a trained dancer, and a good debater. There was another interview with a friend, Meenal, her childhood friend who hinted about some deep dark thing which may have caused this. She did not mention what but she was a friend and friends never tell.

The next day the newspaper guy added a refrigerator to his stand, full of cold drinks and ice tea, and also added a coffee machine. These were a gift from a manufacturer and fitted in snugly with the chips stand he already had. Within a week, the area was teeming with news vans with reporters from multiple channels. The ‘Parent’ news channel added to it’s previous coverage with interviews from friends and relatives. Meghana’s parents were most polite to the reporters but refused to open their doors though the neighbours complied most beautifully, and explained everything from her childhood to adolescence, how good a person she is, how her dog died a couple of years ago, how some eve teasers created havoc for her during her graduation, and how the family keeps to themselves these days.

By the next day the local corporator had promised to get justice for her, though he hardly got any airtime thanks to the human welfare minister. The expert on woman psychology got a new hairdo and a coat of make up just before she spoke about how the trauma of separation or the trauma of not getting a job or the trauma of not being admitted to a foreign university could have caused this reaction. The NGO behanjis were in the news too, but more than her, they were concentrating on women equality and hateful menfolk.

That night people began a candle light vigil from her house which continued till India Gate. News channels renamed her to ‘The Lady who united India’. Students from the music academy just across the restaurant joined in with music performances. The wall outside her building was adorned with signatures from a zillion people. On line bloggers were writing poems for her long wait and will power, and she was trending on twitter.

The news people were getting worried, the lady had caused a spike in ratings but the lack of soundbytes was hurting. There were already articles in newspapers about the media circus. That evening they managed to track down a maternal uncle who hinted that she had a wicked streak as a kid; about how she took pleasure in harming little creatures. Being a ‘sociopath’ was on the cards for the girl.

However to her luck, the next morning a kid from a village in Andhra mistakenly fell into a pit. The news crews vanished from outside the restaurant. The newspaper guy had just added a sandwich toaster to his stall when this happened. He cursed the little kid on his TV. The kid had probably ensured for a comfortable life for himself and his family for the rest of their life. The newspaper guy wondered if he could find some ditch or bore-well where he could get his son trapped without hurting him. Pity his son was so fat.

Next morning, the lady walked past the gate adorned with now fading posters, past the musicians who did not seem as sympathetic as earlier. She was dressed in a red salwar kameez today and was looking as pretty as always. The newspaper guy looked at the lady who had almost paid for his retirement then turned to his shop figuring out how to return all the unsold stock.

The lady went in and sat at the corner table and looked out of the window fidgeting with her fingers. She sat there for over half an hour. sometimes reading the newspaper lying on the table, sometimes looking out, then finally a waiter came to her table gingerly balancing a half filled cup of vile looking coffee and looked at her.
‘The usual’  she replied with a smile.

He turned back, appearing only after almost an hour. She was busy with magazines on the coffee table.

He stared back at her and most nonchalantly put down her cappuccino, and went away. The girl sipped her coffee, deep flavoured and warm.

This was Delhi and service usually take some time, sometimes a couple of hours 🙂

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