Sarah is a normal 25 year old girl with an average life..but is she?
|Ever since Sarah could remember, her favorite pass-time had been peeling. She first chanced upon this cheap thrill in kindergarten when her seat partner Ravi, a scrawny boy with curly hair and a perpetually runny nose took a generous amount of fevicol and put it all over his palms. Sarah suddenly lost interest in the paper mache leaf she was so meticulously pasting bits of paper to, and instead shifted all her focus to the scrawny little boy next to her, on whose palms the fevicol had now dried and he had begun peeling it off all the while gleaming with such profound inexplicable joy that Sarah found herself unable to peel her eyes off him. Alas, she couldn't ask him what exactly it was that he was doing owing to her timorous nature. But her curiosity got the better of her, as later that evening her mother found the little girl sitting under the table of her room, slowly meticulously peeling off the fevicol and trying everything in her power not to smile; as if she already knew how it would be her undoing. And all this while, her mother stood quietly at the doorway, smiling at her daughter's innocent frolics. If only her mother had understood something deeper lay in Sarah's eyes than just plain amusement, or even curiosity.
If only. She thought, as she frantically started peeling her skin, bit by bit, dead cell by dead cell, slowly and meticulously from the corners of her nails using a filer. On the surface it seemed innocent. But if one just looked a little closer, one could have seen a little bead of perspiration forming on the corner of her forehead and how her jaw was pressed a little too hard and how her breathing was shallow and quick matching the rythm of the filer which had peeled off enough of her skin to reveal the tender pink tissue underneath. Some more filing, and blood would gush out. But Sarah kept at it, intently staring at her finger; staring, filing, watching, and still watching closer...
"Again with the damn filer!"
A loud booming voice startled her, making her jerk in confusion and broke her fervent, meticulous meditation. She looked up guiltily only to find a large pair of dull brown bespectacled eyes narrowed down on her in disapproval. The owner of the eyes was as large as them; large enough to make a big office seem small and tall enough to touch the ceiling with her hands. If not the ceiling then atleast the old fan dangling from the ceiling.No wonder she was often called the elephant in the room. The elephant went by the name of Mrs. Anari Murthy; and the designation of Senior Manager. And if her behemoth stature wasn't enough to intimidate people around her; her booming voice did the trick. No wonder poor Sarah dropped her filer and felt like her tongue had been tied down in a hundred small knots. "What do you even file? How many nails do you have! At that stupid thing whenever I see you. This will go in your annual appraisal!"
Sarah is still tongue tied and timidly nods her head. A mistake, in hindsight since such a hasty acceptance of her forbearance sets off another round of censure.
"Are you even interested in where your career is going young lady! Where do you see yourself in five years!"
"The dump?" A confused, hoarse voice joins in on the background. Swayam, Celt Co's own dream boy has stopped in front of Sarah's desk with one hand holding the phone to his ear and the other running nervously through his thick black hair. His voice, laced with the hint of too many cigarettes is enough to even make the elephant in the room stop grunting, as she looks at him transfixed and sweetly asks,"What happened?"
Swayam again runs his hand nervously through his thick mane and responds with a sigh. "It's Garima. I can't seem to find her. I haven't even talked to her since last night."
Sarah looks at his deep brown eyes, so deep that they almost seem black, ready to engulf her if she looks even a second longer; so she turns her gaze to her finger in the lap, freshly pink after her diligent work on them.
"Oh. She must be out shopping! Always keeps taking sick leaves. As if I wouldn't know about her pretty little lies. And now that you have proposed-well." Even though Sarah's eyes were on her lap she could gauge the little pang of jealousy in her boss's voice.
"How do you know-about the proposal?"
"Why? She kept showing off that big rock all over the office yesterday? Such a-"
"Have you seen her today? Anytime after 7 pm yesterday" Swayam cuts her off quickly, too impatient to hear her monologue. "Sarah?"
Sarah jerks upwards again, second time in the day. And mumbles a quick, nervous no; too quick, too nervous.
"Sarah give me that damn report." Murthy switches her gaze from dream boy back to the center of her admonition. Sarah nods and looks hesitantly at her drawer. "I swear you work at a turtle's-"
"If you remember-" Swayam looks at Murthy again, his voice now laced with pleading and agitation along with a whole packet of cigarettes.
"I am telling you she went shopping-these young girls-"
"Her purse was found in the dump. With no money stolen." Swayam cuts her once again, thoroughly irritated; his eyes smoldering black, almost like molten iron.
The elephant is taken aback. She puts her hand on Swayam's back and runs her hand down a little too slow, much to Sarah's chagrin. She seethes but doesn't say anything, waiting for her boss to leave.
"Poor boy-come, come to my cabin- have some coffee." Murthy leads him and just as she is out of Sarah's line of sight, Sarah hears her booming sound again. "Get the file Sarah!"
Sarah lets out a deep sigh and checking all corners around her, unlocks her drawer to take out the file. She takes out the file in a hurry and shuts the drawer as quickly as she opened it. She pauses, and opens it again, but only halfway and peers inside before making sure again that no one is looking. And there inside, lies a hand; pink after being freshly peeled, with a diamond ring gleaming on the third finger.