Dancing In An Empty Space

Nikita opened her wallet. Nothing. Only the bills she had paid remained there. This was the third time she was checking it in hope that she would find something. At least ten rupees! It was already dark and walking home from office was not an option today. She slipped back in time inside her mind to remember if she had placed a few coins in her drawer at work. “Oh yes, something should be there…”, she thought and ran upstairs to her office on the third floor. She rushed through the ID check to reach her desk finally and opened it to see blank or useless papers lying in an disorderly fashion. Hope made her search through that too but it was met with despair. She walked down the stairs slowly this time. Taking each step as if her weight had increased with sadness.

“Nikita”, a voice called her name. She turned around, “Shirin! What a pleasant surprise! I think I will need you to drop me home today.”

“I will leave in another hour, Nikki.”

“Oh. Okay”

“Here you go,” she gave her a chocolate. “It’s my birthday.”

Nikita smiled loudly, grin you would say, but it was loudly fake. She had something serious running through her mind. She wished Shirin and turned around to leave. Absentmindedly she unwrapped and started chomping the chocolate bar. Her hand reached into her pocket without any motive, only to suddenly meet a hundred rupee note. Crushed and cornered as if it never existed; her heart skipped a beat.

This was better than falling in love a hundred times with a single man in a single moment. She shrieked in the corridor, “Yay!” that definitely must have caught the lone watch keeper’s attention.

This felt like a hundred million lottery.

She rushed out of the building to hail a taxi that would get her home for a sound sleep. The last few days had constantly seen this cash crunch. Friday night would go lean and quiet this time.

She barely attended parties yet Saturday nights would be sweet for her. She would go visit places around the city, meet people, make friends, have dinner and listen to them. She was a dreamer and a realist both.

*TRING TRING* *TRING TRING*

‘What’s ringing so loud?’ she thought, half asleep with one eye barely open. She turned to see her phone but it was just lying dead there. As if it was imitating her, only flashing the time 0715 hrs with one eye open.

*TRING TRING* *TRING TRING*

‘God! I swear…’ she tried hard to be angry in her sleep but failed.

*TRING TRING* *TRING TRING*

And she finally got up. Wore her slippers and went on a hunt. It didn’t take her open eyes long to figure out it was the door.

“Coming!” she shouted.

“Nitikaaa”, a voice called and her spirit rose to the seventh cloud. She was already on springs jumping around the room. Her younger brother had called her by that name for as long as she could remember. She used to hate him calling her that but today, it was a familiar sound in an alien world. Like a an object of bright red colour in a sepia world.

There he stood – a young lad now, still the baby brother for her. He had been working a thousand miles away in another city and it had been a year since they’d met.

“Rishabh”, she heard herself call out his name.

“Yeah Di,” sounded more like an announcement than a reply as he paced into the room and crinkled his nose in contempt, “and they say guys live like rats!”

“Oh please, I wasn’t feeling well.”

“When do you?” he mocked her jokingly.

“Rishabh”, a more fake-serious tone.

“Yeah! Yeah! whatever. I got you this.” He stretched out his arm handing her a bag.

“This seems heavy. You got bricks for me?”

Rishabh only looked back at her with a smile and spoke, “Yes, to break your head. Go ahead. Open it and see.”

“I will break yours instead. You know you have been manhandled, little birdie, since the time you didn’t even know the meaning of being manhandled!” she opened it as she threatened.

“God!” he shifted his stance into a ninja’s “you wanna die?”

It was a laptop. “Goodness! Why?” albeit she was grinning on the inside, her face reflected anger and shock.

“Because I know you needed this more for work.”

There were tears in both of their eyes, tears both couldn’t see but feel. Tears that brothers and sisters shed in happiness but wouldn’t show in order to evade the shame of being teased for a lifetime.

This was the best Saturday she had ever had. She made tea for him and they quietly sipped it, talking about life.

No they aren’t in their sixties. Still kids. Will always be.

#RaviKumar

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