ROUND AND ROUND

I

The sun sought shelter under her skin

as she crossed the distance from office to cafeteria.

It’s not 12 yet the blazing heat struck ruthlessly,

stifling the air

rushing the feet to seek shelter quickly.

Except for the idle chatter and

threatening yells at ravenous felines,

the canteen was half empty.

A group huddles in a circle mesmerized

by sleek gadgets

masquerading as phones on certain hours

and game consoles in some.

Reading is only for the serious and focused.

The rest were chased away into the comforts of the cool

walls and hum of the machine.

The meows turned in to a yelp

and a foot darted out from the periphery of her glance.

Her stern warning, “Leave the cat alone!” was

met with a meek smile and perplexity in the eyes.

“Dullards are everywhere!” she muttered under her breath.

II

Conversations between them flowed like

champagne into elegant flute glasses

despite the distance and work schedule.

Talks of holidays, scheming colleagues, love life

family and dreams were routinely

then the eerie silence descended.

He’s venturing into his new life.

It hasn’t started but he’s on his way, he once said,

training 25-8, getting up at the crack of dawn and journeying

home at twilight, to become a world-class server.

She keeps it alive with occasional e-mails and text messages

channelling positive energy and good vibes through

the cold curtain of silence only to be met with

less alacrity than usual,

less warm than before

and stillness most of the time.

His new life is his and his alone.

III

His episodic histrionics rolled and ebbed

like the waves rushing to shore.

It’d begin with little narcissistic tales

of his recent acquisitions segueing into his unparalleled

achievements, moving to attacks on the system

and how it’d be better with his plans at the driver’s seat

and, finally, zeroing in on the bugbear of all his bugbears.

They were opposites:

vertically challenged vs. Goliath

chocolate vs. milk

East vs. West

secure vs. insecure

responsible vs. negligent

team player vs. lone rebel without a cause

diplomatic vs. tactless

doer vs. slacker

thinker vs. whiner

He derided her presence in the academe

where he, like the useless monarchs of the halls of history, should reign.

She was the usurper who stole his crown, his right to the throne.

What crown? What throne?

The people are suffering but that glaring fact is glossed over.

Efficiency is not pivotal; his megalomaniac desire is.

He has units in education he bellowed in her face.

It should be him, not her!

Didn’t he have the utmost right all over the rest? He was, after all, the fairest of them all.

He eschewed protocol, proudly proclaiming

“They’re a waste of time” and, as if to confirm its correctness, growled

“My father and brother never used them to!”

Him not her!

IV

Scorched by the sun, cast aside and antagonized

She moves forward, jumping the hurdles

sidestepping the puddles and parrying the blows.

She’s at that cycle of her life again when she has

deal with the knaves, smooth talkers and what not.

She knows what to do; she will not bow down her head, naturally.

She is, after all, the daughter of her parents but

she’s in no hurry to don her armour and swing her staff.

She’ll have her Starbucks drink first – the cold vanilla latte with jelly bits.

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