When you know it, you just know it. She told herself as she waved away the questions with a smile.
The joke was on her, really. She was always a good actor. Strict parents always raise sneaky children, and she was a top draw. She knew when to smile, when to act all ruffled. She was smart-street and otherwise. She wasn’t your textbook-straight-A student, but she always got what she wanted, and unlike many a confused soul, she always knew what she wanted.
“You call this food? Bitch. I’d rather eat my own shit.” Strong arms, sweeping motion, crackling crockery.
She didn’t believe in love. Oh no, that was for the silver screen. With popcorn in hand and a bunch of giggling buds beside her to stare at impossibly beautiful people doing impossibly ridiculous things. She realised quite early in life that love was as real as the Gods she prayed to- it’s good to know that it might exist, somewhere somehow, but you weren’t meant to think about it too much.
“And what took you so long anyway, office hours end by five right?” Blood red eyes, suspicion, hatred.
Breaking up with her boyfriend wasn’t difficult- they never lasted more than six months ever. The same old cafeteria, the same extra creamy cappuccino. Took her ten minutes to explain her story. No ‘it-is-not-your-fault-it-is-me-bullshit’. Her decision had been made, and she was just being courteous; a simple text message could have sufficed. She never took relationships seriously anyway. If she was arm candy, they were bill-paying machines. Pragmatic was almost her middle name.
“Why does he call you this late, and what were you thinking, giving your number to any dog you fancy?” Clenched teeth, jealousy, deafening rage.
Dad and uncle took care of most of the proceedings, though her opinions were always cared for. The first match was okay, and the second- okay-ish. She wasn’t very particular about looks. But a financially-stable job was a must. The third one was more than perfect. A five figure monthly salary to pay off any mortgage, respectable parents, and immaculate manners. Lovely hair and a strong jawline were added bonuses. The engagement ceremony was short but colourful. Perks of being a single child. They hung out together often afterwards, six months to the wedding couldn’t call for sullen silence right? He was a state-level badminton player during college. Hit the gym every odd day. Scorsese and Fincher. Pattinson and Arundhati Roy. Marley and the Beatles. She couldn’t stop smiling for a long time.
“You will do what I say! Only what I say! And why doesn’t your goddamn phone stop ringing?” Flattened palm, fear, bleeding lips.
The decision to refuse the promotion was logical. She felt the need to relax for a while. What was in it anyway? Yes, she felt she needed the post before. But that was before a diamond adorned her left hand. Now everything had changed. She didn’t want to spend her 9 o’clock dinners at work. She needed a comfy chair, where she could grow fat in. Creamy coffee and almonds. Rain washed glasses and a hug from behind- she was looking forward to being cared for. She typed out the letter- thanking her boss for the generous offer, but politely refusing it. While handing over the hard copy she explained that being married was almost a full-time job, and she was lucky that her fiancée was forward thinking and had no qualms in letting her work. But she wouldn’t take him for granted, and then she quoted Monroe. She had seen it on one of those bridal magazines and thought it was funny. She smiled and walked out of the office gracefully.
“Stop wailing! Who is he? You Whore!” Spinning bedroom, a loud thud, and blackness.
Photography By: Zubair Alam