27 February

The office is quiet today. Or perhaps it is me. Everything around seems to be moving in slow motion, through a haze of heat. The cubicle next to mine rings hollow. Comma has gone to Bhopal to meet her Prospective In-laws. I thought soon she will be gone for always. I feel miserable at the thought.

Neempatta looks at me. She seems to have materialized by magic near my cubicle. I had not heard her arriving.

Neempatta: “Don’t worry, Appi. The sun will shine again.”

I look up at her, flustered.

Neempatta laughs: “Are you missing your noisy mate? Well, when she’s married and gone, we’ll make sure that we employ someone as noisy in her place.”

I wonder if Neempatta is clairvoyant. How does she always know what one is thinking even before one has thought it out completely in one’s own mind?

High BP: “Do you want to put a private detective behind Etcetra?”

Me: “NO. Of course not.”

I don’t know how High BP haswheedled all my anxieties about Etcetra out of me over the phone. So-On too had called earlier, but as usual he had been so full of his Sam stories, that he hadn’t noticed how quiet I had been.

High BP: “Apparently a lot of parents put private detectives behind their girls. That is what my man was telling me.”

Me: “Must be. But thanks. I don’t want anyone trailing Etcetra. And what do you mean ‘your man’?”

High BP: “My personal private detective, you know. He tells me a lot of families put them behind prospective brides or bridegrooms. Can you imagine the trouble I would have saved myself if I had had Pallo checked out before the marriage?”

Me: “Eww. The thought of checking out your life partner is so slimy. Why get married at all, if you cannot trust the other person?”

High BP: “My thoughts, exactly. But that was a few months ago. Now I’m not so sure I agree. People don’t always deserve the trust you give them, do they?”

Me: “Ah, you have become cynical.”

High BP: “It’s called growing up, I think.”

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