An Awkward Silence
by Pragya Agarwal
(Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India)
It was indifferent as I usually don’t have a descent amount to make a phone call. No sooner did I reach my ever noisy house than I pocketed myself with twenty rupees, adjusted the helmet and dashed away at a furious speed to the general merchant store. With trembling fingers and an unstable heart rate, I gently pressed the keys on my ‘Nokia-x202’.
It was 6:00 p.m. by then and I decided to leave. A storm of emotions enraging in my cerebellum, made my subconscious poke me with all the ill-omens that I might face on reaching her home. I was determined to hand that small white paper that consisted of a five line excuse in a complicated way to say just one small ‘casual’ word ‘sorry’, to her at the main gate itself.
Again it was not as I did think. She uttered my name with a loud voice as she peeped to see me hiding behind those big iron bars.
What followed that was just awkwardness as I suffered from a brain wash that very moment when I realized I’ve stepped inside and also that all my rehearsal went in vain.
I was remembered of my subconscious when I found her home all messed up of those chunks of plaster, the irritating noise of the drilling machines, the musty atmosphere, patches of paint and the calls of random names.
I adjusted myself in a small space on her large bed and the ‘silent conversation’ began.
She started, “So did you come in this area for some work or to attend a coaching?” My reply was very short and so it was for the rest of that interview type of an unnecessary dispose. I answered, “No”. She frowned, “So have you come to meet me?” My subconscious woke up and said, “I’m not that type of meeting anyone, especially elders. I’m in a company of reckless people who don’t possess a mindset of meeting or even just knowing teachers personally.” I managed to utter, “No”. After a long pause she looked at me. I was forced by her to say something ‘because she had been thinking that I came there to meet her. My reply was very offending. I urged, “What should I say?” with a smile. She managed a smirk and sighed, “Hmm…. That’s also an important matter; what should you say?” But I could sense she didn’t want to have me sit there wasting her time and although I realized this I was helpless because of my reticent nature. Among all this that happened, that paper was still in my
hand and she did see it but didn’t discuss.
Crosses, smiles and that awkward silence prevailed between us and were generally broken by her. The last of those being broken when she inquired the time out of the tedium. I replied, “ten minutes to seven.” “So I presume you must leave now as it’s too late. I’m not asking you to go from my house but yes next time you come just inform me”, alleged she. My subconscious again, “Why does she ruminate I’ve come to meet her? And after all that gawkiness she is inviting me again?” I uttered, “Ok”. I decided to leave. I spoke finally, “I’m going.” She ornamented her words saying, “I’ll see if you come after your board exams. I’ve invited other students also.” My subconscious interjected me and poked, “Other students! Not at all!” “Just give me a call when you come”, cheerfully she said. “So that you could serve me your hospitality which in my views is a mere conventionalism”. I uttered, “Ok”.
Silence prevailed. I stood at her main entrance, reluctant to leave and she beside me still looking at that white mysterious evidence of all that awkward silence. She then asked, “Do you have my cell phone number?” I said, “No”. She asked me to write it down when I smiled stupidly and said, “I don’t have a pen”. She remarked, “Very good! How did you write in your coaching?” I frowned to myself, “Why is she so forgettable?”
What was astonishing was that she didn’t ask me to save her number on my cell phone which rang two times before when I was in her room. I asked her to speak it and I would learn. She said, “Oh!” With pride I said, “Yes!” I recited her number. She accompanied me to my worn out two-wheeler and then did I hand her that mere sort of a ‘sorry letter’ to which on taking it from me she smiled and said, “Thank you”. My subconscious spoke, “It’s neither a farewell card nor is it a poem!”
I pressed the green button. With my heart rate elevated I brought the speaker close to my ears when I listened to that monotonous sound which signified her number is engaged on another call. My subconscious poked me out of good this time, “Did she get it? Did she decode the words into my number?” I dialed the number again.
No sooner did the first bell ring than I disconnected the call. A chilled breeze wrapped me and took all that away leaving behind those ‘awkward silences’. ***