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“Honey, did you get Lisa ready. I am getting late for work”

“Riya, she is almost ready. I was supposed to leave five minutes ago. But I am still here. I know you need my help and our daughter is my responsibility as well. But you need to let me know in advance when you need my help”.

He is such a moron thought Riya. “Sam, we discussed last night that you were going to get her ready and I would drop her to daycare. I also have work you know. Your work doesn’t take precedence in this family. Why do you always think your work is more important than mine.”

Sam was tired of having this argument. The only memory he had of last night was of them bickering over their kitchen’s stuffed sink. “Ok, She is ready. I am leaving”. He placed his toddler in her crib and kissed her forehead before exiting the door. Fresh air filled his lungs and disipated his anger towards Riya. He had falled in love with her ever since he laid eyes on the brown beauty. He had never thought she would agree to go on a date with him but suprisingly she had. He was a little prejudiced against Asians and had thought of them as introverts. So, he had suppressed any hope of asking Riya out when their friends first introduced them in “The Posh” a pub near his apartment. When she started drinking and dancing, he could see her free spirit. Alcohol had made it easier to ask her out. Now they were parents to a beautiful, charismatic baby girl Lisa named after Sam’s grandmother. He was proud of Riya for braving her pregnancy and child birth. She had never tortured him like the stories he had heard from their friends. His love for wifey dear had grown the day he became a father. She had given him the best gift of his life. But just after a month home with the new baby, that love had started evaporating. Riya had totally changed. She felt like a different person. Always irritated, tired and frustrated. He tried to help her but she just pushed him away.
*****
Sam was at his desk in office when his colleague Ann stopped by his office. He liked Ann. She was nice and pretty. Lately, he had started wondering about how it would feel to kiss another woman. Most of his days were  either spent with Lisa or ended up in a fight with Riya. Ann had often hinted about going for a drink after work but he had always excused himself. Today, he was tempted to have a nice time with her. His phone chimed. “Buy diapers on your way home. Thanks!” he saw the text from Riya. Next minute she was calling him. He gave a meek smile to Ann gesturing he had to take the call. As soon as Ann left, he picked up the phone. “You forgot to renew our lease Sam” Riya said furiously. He tried controlling his temper knowing it was his mistake. “I will take care of it Riya. I have work to do. I am hanging up”.
Riya had pushed his buttons again. He hated it when she got mad at him. His ego spat up and he went to Ann’s desk thinking if he was sinking, he would dive instead. “Is everything okay. You look stressed” said Ann. “It’s nothing” he replied. “Are you free for drinks today?”

 Daily Prompt: Tempted : Although this story is more about frustration, it is frustration that makes Sam give into the temptation of starting another relationship. Hope it makes sense from the write up. If not, suggestions are welcome. I am trying to get better at writing fiction :-).

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It was 6.00am & she was already heading for the gym. She grabbed her iPhone, keys & closed the door behind her. She turned ON her ipod  while pressing the down button for the elevator. It was one of her favorite song that came up as she entered the elevator. She pushed the button for  lobby & was watching the countdown on the LCD. 15, 14, 13…..8, 7…2, L & the elevator door opened. At the same time, she received a call & was surprised looking at the name on the caller id. Instead of picking up the phone, she started thinking of all the reasons why her mother was calling her at this time. None of her family members knew that she woke up so early to go to gym. They did not like their girls being skinny. They wanted them to be plump & chubby. But, Ayushi was very health conscious. She had seen the effect of no exercise & oily food in her family. Lots of examples. So, after coming to Chicago she had started going to the free gym in her school & now in her apartment while working. She stepped between the elevator doors just when they started closing & the doors hit her. She felt a jerk, a little pain in her shoulders & a bit of anger all at the same time. She picked up the phone standing in the lobby area.

She greeted her mother with her sleepy voice. Her mother was apologetic for calling so early in the morning but said that she couldn’t resist the good news. Her “Hello Ayushi beta” had given away the enthusiasm. Ayushi started wondering what  news could be so exciting to her mom. The next thought cleared her doubt and mother spoke her (Ayushi’s) thoughts aloud “We have found the perfect guy for you beta”. Ayushi was speechless for a few minutes. While she was digesting this information, her mother conveyed the whole story.

Mother said “He is your father’s friend’s son. His name is Karan & he is doing his PHD in Purdue university”.  They had met Karan’s parents at a wedding of another friend’s daughter. This was her father’s close friend from college who had shifted to Bangalore for work. They were now back to Mumbai & their son was 1year older than Ayushi. They were happy to hear about Ayushi’s graduation & her working in Chicago. Karan was to finish his PHD soon and  after a few old times catch up meetings they all thought that it would be a good idea if their children would tie the knot.

So, Ayushi’s mother was to discuss this idea with her & Karan’s mother with him. They were also open to Ayushi & Karan meeting each other in USA since they were in neighboring states. “Ayu…are you listening to me beta? I will hang up now if you want to sleep. Just wanted to convey this wonderful news to you. I am very excited Ayu.” mother said. Ayushi was filled with mixed feelings & couldn’t deny her mother’s request to meet the guy. She said she would think about it & they both hung up.

Her favorite song started again as soon as she was off the phone & she felt a bit relaxed. She entered the gym and went to the treadmill. She started with slow walking exercise at her usual start speed & tried to listen to the next song. Her mothers words were clouding her thoughts. Her mind started repeating words like Karan, PHD, Purdue University, Ayushi weds Karan and she screamed “Stop it”. The American guy who was entering the gym half inside & half outside stood motionless looking at her. She stopped the treadmill & got on the floor unaware of the guy at the door. She shook her head from side to side a few times, switched on the television & came back to the treadmill. After being sure that this girl was not a lunatic, the american guy entered the gym. Ayushi upon seeing him close the gym door realized that she had frightened the poor guy. She apologized, increased her walking speed and tried concentrating on the lyrics of the songs.

After an hour of walking, running and cycling exercises she came back to her apartment that she shared with Aabha, her roommate. Aabha was pouring tea in a mug when Ayushi entered. Aabha was Ayushi’s closest friend in America. She sat on the dinning table while Aabha was making a sandwich for breakfast. She waited patiently for Aabha to join her & tried to organize her thoughts for the story telling that was about to take place. Once they were both seated, Ayushi  started narrating everything that had happened in the morning to Aabha. Aabha was smiling from the moment she heard the word perfect guy & Ayushi knew that a hell lot of teasing was about to start.

After hearing the whole story, Aabha was quite for sometime. Ayushi was feeling anxious at what her friend was thinking. Then surprisingly, Aabha who was a protestant of arrange marriages &  a feminist by nature said “We are to get married one day or another. Why not give a chance to this guy that your parents like so much. He might be perfect for you as they say.” Ayushi realized that this day was going to be full of shock & surprises. But she had to agree with Aabha. After all, how can you judge someone without knowing them.

Ayushi went for a bath while Aabha finished her breakfast & read the newspaper.  As soon as she was out, Aabha inquired if her mother would be sending Karan’s picture and was disappointed since Ayushi hadn’t asked for it. Even Ayushi was curious now to see his photograph. But how to get it? She did not want to ask her mother. Then, brilliant Aabha suggested using Google search to find him. She said “I am sure we can get his facebook profile at the least and that should have his picture.” They switched on Ayushi’s laptop and eagerly waited for windows to start. For the first time they were feeling that her 64bit system with 4gb of memory was slow. Ayushi opened her preferred browser & it loaded the Google search page which was the home page. They first typed “Karan Sanghavi, USA” and it returned a lot of pages containing twitter pages, facebook pages, businesses, tv show synopsis etc. They clicked on the facebook link but there was no picture and no access for most of the profiles. Then they tried the twitter link but even that was a disappointment. Again, Aabha suggested putting the word purdue university along with his name for the search. That did it! And they found his page with his credentials, reasearch interests at the university & a photograph. Ayushi’s first reaction was “I don’t like him. He has a french beard”. Aabha thought he had decent features & her roommate would actually look good with him. She also started teasing Ayushi with the perfect guy.

The dinner

An overwhelming smell of Onions & Garlic hit him as soon as he entered the house. A thought of entering a wrong apartment occurred to him but he soon realized that his wife was already home & cooking. He left his bag on the couch in the living room and walked towards the kitchen. There he saw Anita standing in the kitchen with her long curly hairs tied in a braid, wearing a Saree, mastering the art of vegetable cutting with left hand supporting the onion being cut by the rapid moving knife in her right hand. He asked her if he could take a look at his sweet & loving wife. She stopped cutting & looked at him with eyes closed. He saw that tears had filled her eyes & she was pressing them to remove the water. He wiped her eyes & hugged her. For a moment, they forgot where they were standing. The whistle of the pressure cooker reminded Anita of the upcoming dinner guest. Yes, her father was coming for dinner alone today since her mother had gone to her aunt’s place where all her sisters were going to cook & dine together. Usually, when visiting them, mother would make father’s plate & serve him. She recalled her mother saying that he liked Okra. So she had decided to prepare samosa for appetizer; Okra vegetable, potato vegetable, lentil soup, chappati & rice for main course & Gulab Jamun for dessert. She gave Akash the ginger tea she had prepared for him & got back to her chopping. Next in line were tomatoes, chillies, okra & potatoes.

Akash took a sip of tea & feeling refreshed already, removed another chopping board & knife from the cupboard & started cutting the potatoes with Anita. He knew how tensed she was regarding this dinner & wanted to make things easier for her. After a while both were competing against each other on who cuts most veggies. To him she was the cutest person to compete with. In the end, he won in-spite of she getting the head start and him drinking his tea all along. She pushed him out of the kitchen to concentrate on the cooking.

Exactly after an hour, Anita came into the living room & crashed besides Akash. Thankful that the food was cooked well before her father’s arrival & that she could rest now. She had already made appetizer & dessert the previous day. Akash was watching “Friends” on TV. It was his favorite TV show. He saw Anita fall asleep on his shoulder & tried not to move. It felt silly to him that she was tensed about her father visiting. He had found her old man to be a calm & knowledgeable person. He liked to be in his company discussing the recent cricket matches, stock market & technology.

With a soft voice & a kiss on the forehead, Akash woke up Anita after half an hour. She looked refreshed after the nap & he did not want to let go of her. She went into the bedroom to get ready for the dinner. She wore a white golden border Saree, braided her hair and also put a small red dot on her forehead. She looked simple but elegant. Akash also got dressed in white kurta pajama.

The door bell rang at sharp 7pm. Anita opened the door with Akash standing behind her to welcome his father-in-law. Anita’s dad was very happy to see both of them. He entered the house feeling a bit weird being alone and handed Anita the box of sweets that his wife had asked him to take. He entered the living room after removing his shoes & sat on the couch. Akash sat with him while Anita fetched a glass of water for him. They all chatted for a while & then Anita left them to reheat some of the food. Upon entering the kitchen, she again started feeling tensed & anxious. She concentrated on the task at hand & tried to shut the nervous thoughts out of her mind. After all, it was her father who loved her immensely.

She set the table for three & asked Akash & her father to join. Akash asked for the honor of serving his father-in-law & was granted the permission without any protests from Anita. Her father was astonished & delighted. Okra vegetable bought a wider smile on his face. Anita was already feeling ridiculous for being so worrisome.

An Evening Walk

This is another short scene that I have described here.

It was 5.40pm when her manager left the office. Shubha was done for the day at 5pm itself but she never left before her manager. After all, it had just been a few months since she joined this office. She liked working here, especially because work was close to home & that she was finally with her husband Amit. They had stayed apart for more than half a year after their marriage. Only two months after  their wedding, both of them working in an  International IT firm in India, had got an on site in two different countries. Torn between career, family & future, they painstakingly decided to grab the opportunity. They decided that Shubha would try to get a job in the city were Amit was posted. To their luck, Amit ran into an old friend who worked in Alpharetta just a few miles away from Atlanta & whose company had a job opening in IT. Shubha applied & got the job. She moved to Alpharetta from Ipswich, UK. Life seemed better already.

Usually, she used to take a bus home. However, today she decided to walk owning to the apple cobbler she had had for dessert in the afternoon. A harsh chilly wind was blowing, but her full sleeve pullover saved her. She passed the parking area & was walking towards the bus stop which was on the left. Thoughts of a warm home, clove & ginger tea and the leftover Dhoklas from yesterday started clogging her mind. She shook her head & reminded herself of the calories she had accumulated that afternoon. So, instead of turning left, she turned right & crossed the street, walking toward the opposite side of the bus stop. She kept on walking without looking backwards, afraid it might change her mind. To distract herself, she started looking at the ground. She was walking on the grass since there was no walkway for pedestrians half the way. Many  semi dried leaves were spread over the grass. She had never seen such beautiful shades of a leaf. She had  an urge to pick one up but felt silly of getting that thought. She was already a married women & it wouldn’t be appropriate to act like a kid. She walked on.

Soon, she came on a bridge that overlooked a freeway. When Amit had told her about the freeways, she  had wondered why did they not call it the highway like they call it in India. She still referred to them as highways in front of Amit. She looked down at the freeway, at all the cars traveling at a speed of 80-100 miles per hour. It reminded her of the computer game she used to play with her brother. For a moment, the world she was standing in looked like a computer/video game. A lot of fast cars on neat roads surrounded by greenery & no human around. She smiled at the thought & kept on walking. Often when she was deep in thought, she had a feeling that she was looking at the world from the glass window of the television. That was when she found herself laughing at her own self.

She reached a point on the road where the walkway started. She was happy to finally walk on a neat ground. Also, she could see the community before her apartments. Even though there was a lot of distance from the actual houses, she tried to look inside. She was at a higher level & if tried hard, could see the balconies of the residents. One of the balconies had patio chairs with cushions, another had plants all over. And then her vision was blinded by the shining Sun. She couldn’t  see on her left where the houses were. So she kept looking at  the line of cars on the right. After a while, she took a left turn, walked for few mins, passed the main door & reached her building. She climbed upstairs and unlocked the door, thinking about the hot tea & that Amit would be home soon.

Laundry Day

Since this is my first attempt at writing, I have started with explaining a mundane task of doing laundry.

She opened her eyes unable to sleep more due to the gloomy brightness in her room. She looked at the clock & it was already noon. She tried to fall asleep by covering her eyes with her soft shawl but couldn’t sleep anymore. Finally, she woke up, prayed to god & got out of bed. After freshening up, she returned to her bedroom to switch on her laptop. Yes, being connected is the most important thing for IT people. She suddenly realized that her room was not as bright as it is on a normal day. Usually, sunlight penetrates her room at 7am in the morning, making it difficult for her to sleep past 8am. She lifted up a blind & took notice of the pouring rain. She almost screamed “Gosh! its raining…and I have to do laundry, I need to do laundry”. As all IT people do, she returned to her laptop for help. She opened her favorite web browser & went to the weather website. She looked at the hourly weather report which told her that it would just be drizzling from 2.00pm to 3.00pm & would stop raining from 3.15pm to 3.45pm. She decided that this was the time she would go and put clothes for laundry. Being relieved by this decision, she went into the kitchen to make tea & a sandwich for breakfast. Once ready, she returned to her laptop with tea cup in on hand & plate of sandwich in another & put on the “Notting Hill” dvd that she had ordered from netflix. Julia Roberts was her favorite Hollywood actress. It was difficult to stay in the real word when movie world seemed so fantastic. It was at 2.15pm when her eyes looked at the clock & she ran to her closet to gather the clothes for laundry. Once the bag was full, she got out of her room, collected the detergent from the bathroom, grabbed her home keys & rushed outside. It was drizzling, so she tried to walk as fast as she could. Laundry bag was a bit heavy & longer than her height. She tried to concentrate on her surroundings instead of the heaviness of the bag. She breathed in the freshness of the air & felt the water droplets on her face. It made her happy to be in rain after a long time. The water droplets on the car, the trees, the puddles on the road all reminded her of her home country. The weather was perfect & same as it was back home in the rainy season. She took the second left from her apartment & tried avoid the water puddles on the ground. The funny thing was, it seemed like a river rather than a puddle. How can you avoid that? Yes, it was a vain attempt & she did end up wetting her sneakers. She passed through the passageway of another building to get to the laundry room which was in the clubhouse of her apartments. It also contained a Gym, a pool table, a computer room & a tv room for kids. The outside of the clubhouse was lined up with flowers & shrubs. There were pink, white & yellow flowers. The pink color of the flowers looked more radiant because of the rain droplets on them. She passed the small waterfall outside the clubhouse & finally tapped her card to get in. When she got into the laundry room, all the washing machines were empty. It seemed nobody wanted to come out in the rain.