After what seemed like an eternity, Kritika finally got up and walked out of her desolate cubicle. She sat on the fifth floor and at that hour of the night, she was scared that if the elevator stops midway, there would be no way out for her. Alex had been waiting for her, as he always did, for that cup of tea at 3 in the night, across the road, on the grey and red pavement. She never really cared about what the trend her generation followed. She liked tea and if the rest of the world was gung-ho about having coffee at “coffee shops”, she remained loyal to her cup of tea and that individuality of her’s appealed to Alex. When all his guy friends used to ogle at girls in skimpy outfits, he was in awe of the girls driving big cars, those hot-shot managers and social servers. It gave him a feeling that such girls are so damn sure of themselves, that they cannot be controlled by the regular norms of the society. There was something about these girls that needed a guy to rise above these norms to command their respect.
Kritika was no different, she rebelled against her parents wishes and came to Hyderabad, a city vastly different from her parent’s Chennai. It was a taboo in her society for girls to work and that too after 8 in the night. It was a criminal offense to family pride but she had stopped caring about such things a long while ago. Working in an IT company was not her interest in life but surely gave her the financial independence and lifestyle she wanted to live in. It gave her the time and peace of mind to figure out what to do with the rest of her existence. One thing was sure to her, her family would never take her back. Everytime she reminded herself of that fact, it sounded more like a relief to her than anything else. Alex was surprisingly patient when it came to Kritika, more than he was with Kavya too. It did make Kavya furious but he knew how to calm her down and she understood the nature of the friendship between him and Kritika. Kritika is a girl who never had time for anyone or anything apart herself and Kavya knew that this was the only reason Alex would not dump her. Kritika was not content with what she ever had, nor will she ever be and this desperate struggle to get more than what she has, has made her despise herself and life all together. It was better knowing what you want and not getting it than not even knowing what you want and which case you would not know whether you have it or not.
She crossed the road and was waving her left hand at him. There still were many people at this hour, it was what they called the peak season. The recession that started last year was in full swing and people there know fully that it will continue till mid 2009 and that there was one more year to bear with this extra pressure and job fear.
“I think you need to work on your punctuality “, he said, not looking too happy.
“I make wait you because you are willing to” she replied.
She looked around herself and saw about twenty guys who were smoking and the smoke rising above their heads. Against the steel buildings and dark sky, the smoke had a hazy look and the whole taboo against smoking seemed silly to her at that moment. She started weighing the pros & cons of smoking. Except for the age-old lung cancer issue, she did not find anything against it. She felt that she can rise up the corporate ladder quickly if she smokes with those who matter! Career. Now, there was nothing that could stop her from plunging into it.
“Hey Alex. Get me a cigarette of the best quality” she told him. He was a little confused, whether he should let a friend do something he felt was wrong but he was furious at her for making her wait. He crossed the road, bought exactly one cigarette of the most expensive brand and gave it to her. He felt guilty while doing so but his ego overrode the guilt and watched her as she was trying her first cigarette.
With all the poise of an independent girl she started smoking. It was bitter and was stinking. Two puffs in and she was coughing, rubbing her lips against each other and not being able to take it anymore, she threw away the cigarette. She turned to Alex and saw him laughing his heart out.
“You should have told me it sucks big time, stinks so badly and also leaves this bad taste in mouth. I hate you Alex.” she yelled.
Trying his best to control his laughter “Serves you right!” he snapped.
She did not intend to say “I hate you” to him and yet he did seem as if cared a damn. She was confused.
All characters are purely fictional. Any resemblance to the living or dead is totally unintentional.