Un-lonely Anita Went Skiing
by Annapurna Sharma
(Nellore, AP, India)
Anita parked her car and made her way to the entrance of Bonita Meadows – skiing trails, flashed her pass, waved at the security, but didn’t bother to stop and exchange pleasantries as she was short of time. Donning bright red skiing gear, she reached the trails, looked at the snow, ‘Boy! Awesome! Ooooh! I love skiing!’
It was just the beginning of the season, the first snow, the trails cleared of branches and debris was smooth, amorphous, blanched. The snow thickness wasn’t deeper and skate skiing was the better option, her coach had told. Cross country skiing had been her fascination as it wasn’t just a sporting competition or done for mere entertainment, it was a good exercise for the taut muscles in a cold country like Canada. She was an obsessional skier, as for her it was a get away from compacted indoors. Holed up in a cubicle for long hours at the office with artificial air and light, it made her stuffy. Skiing just didn’t burn cals but served as a release of pent up energy, an energy that made her a recluse, a hermit.
‘Hmm! Lovely weather!’
She sucked the cool, fizzy breeze that made a hissing sound, trying in vain to puncture her headscarf that fluttered and crept like a vine onto an invisible trellis. She giggled. The sun played hide and seek with the wooly clouds, enlightening her face once in a while. She literally enjoyed. After a thorough warm-up she entered the trails. Shifting her weight from one ski to another she started with Gear 1 – a diagonal V, a short glide. Anita enjoyed gliding forward and to the sides, as skate skiing trails had wider and better groomed trails, allowing sufficient room for speed skaters. It was a sunny and pleasant morning, with little ski traffic. She picked up speed gradually, murmuring a silent ‘thanks’ to the legendary Norwegian, Bjorn Daehlie for such a splendid sport.
The hill slope was ahead; she accelerated and used double poles with each leg. This Gear 3 – V2 technique taxed her muscles but she succeeded in making uphill. She glided leisurely on the top taking in the besnowed landscape. There were many other slopes around, but she often preferred this particular one, steeper and higher.
Two years back -
Anita stepped out of the cab and walked into the railway station. The dusky warm summer breeze played sport with her springy hair. The booming loudspeaker overhead and the hustle of passengers added on to the sultry summer evening. She wiped beads of perspiration. After a long time, she thought. She was visiting Jaipur for a friend’s wedding. After college, they didn’t have the time to meet; the wedding would be a reunion of their batchmates. She was looking forward to it.
The train arrived and Anita boarded. She was sure it was him. Tall, athletic with curly hair, his pink pimpled cheeks, it was him, she was sure. He was turned sideways, boosting his baggage onto the upper berth. He turned towards her.
His jaw dropped in amazement. “Hey! Anita!”
She smiled, no words came out.
“Great! It’s been eons since we met. Which berth?”
She fumbled with her ticket, “Forty three.”
“Good! Mine is above yours.”
Late into the night, they spoke of college days – bunking classes, hanging out at the canteen, the little tea parties, the movies and everything that came to their mind.
At Jaipur, more of their classmates joined in and they had a blast at the wedding. Back home from the wedding, Anita went back to work. She checked her phone constantly; it had been three days since she returned. No call, no message. He was a showstopper at college, often surrounded by girls and boys alike. There were rumors circulating, “Satish and Sanjana were seen together,” or “Dippy was chatting all night with Satish on
the phone.” He had friends, girl-friends, many they whispered. Anita had never been one of them, but she nurtured a secret crush on him. She liked the way he talked, he walked, he dressed… it was not just her, many of the girls felt that way, a weakness.
‘It’s infatuation yaar, the bookworms would say.”
He was different now. He never even looked at her while at college, at Anju’s wedding he never left her alone even for a while. Anju teased her, “What going on?”
She shrugged off. She hated checking her phone so often. He said he would call, but didn’t. It was torturous, been alone, after basking in the warmth of his gaze at the wedding. A sinking feeling, was she one of them, like all his previous girl friends at college. Why was she complaining? Why was she expecting so much from him? He was polite and pleasant towards her. Yet she couldn’t stop her fingers checking her phone every five minutes. It was unbearable.
She couldn’t sleep. The phone on the bedside table vibrated. She grabbed it, the phone almost missing a fall to the floor. Flashing on the screen was his message. Her heart missed a beat. She pinched herself. Was he joking?
The phone rang. It was him. In the dark silent night, she could hear his heart thudding. He proposed, she accepted, rest was history. They became a couple soon.
After nine months -
“What the hell is going on between Satish and that bitch?” Anita burst, her patience wearing out with each word.
Karthik tried his best to calm her down, but his quintessential humor didn’t seem to help, as he said, “Flirting, healthy of course, the one that happens once in a while. Nothing serious, you shouldn’t be so possessive.” He smiled and lifted his shoulders indicating a dismissal of her accusations.
“Healthy flirting! What do you mean?” her eyes red like burning embers of coal.
“Come let’s go to the pub tonight. I’ll buy you, your favorite drink… maybe Cappuccino at Café Day.”
Karthik’s dry smile irritated her. She felt a thousand worms creeping on her body.
“Oh! So you are suggesting that even I could do the same… like him. Thanks for the invite, but I am not interested. For your info, extramarital indulgences aren’t legitimized as yet and there is no word called healthy flirting.”
Anita stomped her feet as she got up from her seat and walked out of the room. A helpless Karthik heaved a sigh; he had warned Satish of the repercussions of lovey-dovey flirtings which were short-lived and a burden on relationships.
Suddenly Anita stopped at the door and turned back. Her looks pinning Karthik’s gaze, she asked, “Did he sleep with her? Did he ever share this with you, his best friend?”
Karthik could hear the grinding of her teeth as she left, not waiting for him to reply. He noticed her stressing the last words - best friend. Was she asking or telling him? She knew, how far Satish – Priya had gone.
Anita spotted them at a park, rubbing shoulders and murmuring under a thicket. She didn’t give a chance for Satish to explain. She just walked out of the rotten bond.
She didn’t want the severing of a nine month relationship to make her alone and depressed. She made her way to Canada, ascending the professional ladder. Anita learnt skiing and made it to championships, which made her stronger and sharp-eyed.
Now, skiing became an elixir of her life. She made up her mind to come back as often as possible, she headed downhill using the Gear 5 – V skating. Without using the poles and coming down at high speeds was the most exhilarating experience. She shouted jubilantly as she zoomed downwards.
She hoped for an early and heavy snow that season, desperately waiting for classic skiing on deeper snow trails. ***