What he was, was the man of her dreams, dreams from her childhood, dreams that had gotten detailed over the last few years. He did not ride a white horse nor did he drive around in a car without a top or doors. What he did was, take the same bus she did every morning. What he also did was look sharper than his age meant for him to be. She never could figure out what made him so, was it the way he kept his hair, cut neat and short, or was it the way he walked or was it those sharp formal clothes he wore with shiny black shoes? Yes, it had to be the attire. It was unlike what most men around his age wore. She tried real hard to gauge his age based on his facial hair, but he never let any grow out. He kept it clean and smooth.
All she wanted was to talk to him, even say ‘hello’ possibly. But he looked so preoccupied all the time. She never even got the chance to pass a smile at him. She had definitely caught him looking at her once or twice. Not in a creepy lusty manner, but like in a way that something caught his fancy suddenly and he wanted to be sure what it was and not just turn away with some speculated view of whatever it could be.
She went crazy in her mind the first time she caught him glance at her. She was already at the bus stand. He always came from the other side of the road and she could never figure out where exactly he lived. That day he seemed distracted, calm yet distracted. He probably thought that he got here late and had missed his bus. That is when his eyes caught her standing there in bright blue against the graying clouds above and walked towards her to find out if he had indeed missed the bus. She saw that his calmness had amplified since and she felt good to have been a part of the process.
Ananya never had any lack of male attention. She was the prettiest girl most places she went. There were always plenty of people who made her aware of this as if she wasn’t already aware of it. She was not just the pretty girl, but she was also the most sought after for a decent conversation by her friends or acquaintances. She was good at her job, was well on the way to being at the top of her game. She was a quick learner and made sure she followed through. She always had something on her mind. Always! And that kept her on her toes. She never once lost her train of thought.
It was mostly a job requirement. She worked as a freshly recruited nurse.
Even without her knowledge there were always an unusually large number of people in whose lives she found herself involved. She lived alone in the city and companionship was never important until a lack of it was made aware to her. She took extra care of her patients who were lonely too. She found a level of camaraderie in doing so. Like, she is doing her bit for all the lonely people everywhere in the world.
And in this very world, was the man of her dreams, always alone, but never seemed lonely. He never seemed to be in any kind of worry. As she sat at her table counting the number of syringes and needles in the inventory, she was called to emergency room to attend a fresh set of patients that were brought in from a car accident. The dedicated nurse that she is, she sprang into action and hurried to the emergency room to find a fat middle aged man in a suit soaked in his blood. His skull probably cracked in multiple spots or worse, shattered. His arms twisted beyond humanly possible and taking the third of his last four breaths. Had this man been alive and well right now, she pictured him standing around holding his phone and obnoxiously yelling at everyone for everyone else’s fault.
The doctor points Ananya to the next table with a gesture that tells her that it isn’t as bad as the one with the fat man who will be moved to the morgue in a few minutes.
As Ananya draws the curtain open, she finds the man of her dreams lying there with a bruised elbow and a minor head injury. She pulls the curtain close and checks for any fractures on his arm and knows for sure that his strong forearms have kept it intact. It’s just scratches. His forehead too has just a few scratches. She tells him that he is going to be ok. He replies by saying, “I know.” Ananya is surprised by both hearing his voice for the first time and the confidence with which he replies. She then asks him about the accident. He does not reply. She then asks him if he knew the man in the suit. He looks at her, pauses, gazes into her eyes and says, “Not much.” This time a chill tries to creep up her spine when she heard him talk. She keeps her composure and says to him that he is not going to make it. “He seems badly injured. Were you both in the same car?“ He nods with a blank expression. She has finished patching up his wounds. She puts his hand on his wrist and tries to comfort him with her eyes. But she is not sure if he wants to be comforted or not. She just feels that he could be hurting. He does not react. Ananya picks up her tray and tells him that she will be around if he needed anything and gets up.
He grabs her wrist tightly and tells her, “I was hoping that you would say that it was meant to be. Can you say it for me now? I thought all you doctors and nurses have been taught that as a script. Please?” Ananya sits down, puts her hands on his and says, “I guess it was meant for it to be like this. We should consider this as god’s will.” He sits up, puts the palm of his hands on her face, goes close to her face and tells her, “No baby, it was our will” and kisses her. Her eyes go wide for a second before she closes her eyes and kisses him back passionately, pulling his hair and thrusting her tongue in to his mouth, biting his lips. She climbs onto the side of the bed, pushes his head onto the pillow, she removes her head dress, slaps his face with her open hair and that is when he breaks the kiss and says, “You fucking bitch, you’re excitement will get us caught. Go find that fat fucker’s phone from this belongings. I have taken everything else to empty his bank account.”
Ananya climbs down from the bed. Pulls her skirt down and clears the folds off her blouse, grabs her tray to walk away but stops to look back at the man of her dreams, puts her finger into her mouth, turns it around to moisten it. Slowly removes her finger from her mouth and puts it on his bandage.
“This is for killing that bastard of a step dad of mine.”
The Monkey Trap.
In a manner of pure genius, Robert M Pirsig uses the South Indian monkey trap in his ‘ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE’ to elucidate the idea of value rigidity. “The trap consists of a hollowed out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole. The hole is big enough so that the monkey’s hand can go in, but too small for his fist with rice in it to come out. The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped – by nothing more than his own value rigidity. He can’t revalue the rice. He cannot see the freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it.” Using the basest sense from the resulting condition of the monkey, I present to you a series of short stories about traps sprung open due to human desires and the endeavors undertaken to fulfill them.
These stories are real, inspired, purely fictitious or a concoction of all of these possibilities.