You made my day
“Join everyone at downstairs near the cafeteria for the fire drill.” Mr. Lionell once again announced through the public address system.
The routine fire drill happened once in a year to update knowledge about precautions if a fire accident happened in your work place.
When one of the volunteers from the organization called once again every one in the mega phone, every one switched off the monitor of their computers and started to climb down fast using the emergency exit.
Though the stairs were broad, they have to climb down more number of steps. They are not allowed to run but walk briskly and cover the distance from their chairs to the place within 10 seconds.
First time, it took more than 15 seconds, and the team leader who conducted the fire drill asked them to go to their place and start once again.
After fifteen minutes, the fire drill started once again. This time they were able to complete it within seven seconds.
While everyone gathered together in front of the fire-drill leader, Sheila moved to the back row. With her shoulders supported against the wall, she stood with her eyes closed.
Those seconds helped her to relax for a while and drain away the sleepiness that sat heavily on her eyes.
“Mam,” someone shook her out of sleep.
“Sorry.” Sheila apologized with a grin. “Just could not keep my eyes open for a while.” Sheila murmured to her colleague.
Someone lit the dry twigs and leaves gathered in the middle with fire. The flames of fire raised high in the air and spread the heat in the surrounding.
Though Sheila stood away from the fire, the afternoon breeze carried the heat waves toward her.
“So hot” Sheila took the pallu of her saree and shielded her face from the warm waves of heat.
The volunteer from their team ran and took the fire extinguisher and broke open the seal. He pressed the handle and let the foam of carbon-di-oxide escape through the nozzle of the extinguisher.
Within seconds, he was able to put out the fire. The team cheered him by clapping loudly.
“Who will help me to put out the fire that makes my heart feel burnt and scorched?” Sheila’s thoughts occupied her mind for a while.
Sheila felt weak on her knees and wanted to sit down somewhere. She felt a strong urge to go to the restroom. But she could not move away from the crowd, as there was fifteen more minutes for the demo to conclude.
Controlling her uneasiness, she moved to the damp wall. The bare upper shoulder felt the chillness of the wall that sent a shiver down here spine.
Every Friday made her depressed at heart. From the time she wakes up from her bed, she dreads the moving seconds that slowly dragged the day to night.
Just to think about going to bed on those particular nights brought within her mild tremors that increased her heart beats and she perspired more.
In the middle of night when everyone was deep asleep, her inner mind could hear the stealthy foot steps that reached her side. Too tired to wake up from sleep, she shut her eyes tightly.
Desperately, she did not want to be disturbed and waken up from the bed. The usual household chores, long eight hours at work and the stressful travel in the bus along with the crowd made her physically, mentally tired.
She did not even want a caressing touch. Sheila always felt it would be better if she is allowed to sleep alone without any disturbance. But he never cared about it. He just wanted to relieve his sexual lust and then snore deeply.
He never cared about her physical inconvenience or else find out if she is ready to be with him.
“Don’t you spare five minutes.” His remark sounded as if it is like the routine job of signing in the attendance register in the morning and evening.
“Why don’t you cooperate with me? You lie down like a log without any emotions or feelings. How can you be like that to me?” His questions scorched her ears. Sheila did not reply but waited for the moments to go away.
Though it is her moral responsibility to go along with her husband’s requirements, unfortunately, she had started to feel tired at heart.
Sharing intimate moments were no longer exciting and every week it proved to be a routine, heart-breaking exercise that suck more of her energy and made her feel low.
When he caressed her ears passionately with his lips, her nostrils could smell the unbearable stink of liquor and beedis.
The heat of his body told her that he took his bath two days ago and she felt dirty and untidy.
Suddenly, his entire behavior changed that showed traits of a romantic lover within him. Every time he started it with some elaborate procedures. Placing her tired legs on his lap, he would massage slowly starting from the toe fingers.
One by one he took her toe fingers and stretched them to relieve the stress.
Sheila has to shamelessly admit his hands had the magical power that massaged her toe fingers, ankles, forelegs and thighs. With the unbeatable performance of a romantic lover, he slowly fine tuned her body to listen to him.
Though at heart she did not want to cooperate with him, her body shamelessly accepted his interference and enjoyed every touch as a heavenly bliss.
He made her nerves feel the pleasures of flesh and wish for some more. After minutes of reluctance, she slowly gave in to him and satisfied him. Her unwillingness to cooperate dissolved into the dark, cold night air.
After he moved away from her, she could not sleep immediately. The unbearable pain at her heart made her cry silently and damp the pillow with her salty tears.
In the morning, he carried on as if nothing happened. But Sheila could not get over the physical and mental tiredness.
Morning hours got her busy in cleaning the cooking vessels, cooking breakfast and lunch and helping her daughter to get ready for the school.
But once she boarded her bus to work, she lacked the energy to be cheerful and struggled hard to get away with the laziness that slowly enveloped her tired eyes and brain.
Sheila walked from the office to the bus stop like a zombie. Her legs knew the way and she followed the crowd that crossed the road at the pedestrian cross.
The bus came crowded. Before Sheila could decide to board the bus, someone pushed her ahead and she was forced to get into the bus. The crowd pushed her to the middle of the bus and she luckily got a place to stand comfortably.
After twenty minutes, Sheila found a place to sit near the window. The evening breeze caressed her face with chill and she breathed in the fresh air hungrily. The fresh air filled her lungs and improved her heart beats. She felt energized and happy.
The evening breeze from the seashore carried to her the energy and happiness that she lost years ago.
Just a few feet away from Sheila, looking at the side mirror, Ram stared at the growing traffic in front of his vehicle. With his hands on the steering wheel, he patiently waited for the traffic signal to change from red to green.
Right from the time he started from home for work, his mind was not at peace and he did not know how he would bridge the gap that grew day by day between him and his wife.
The early days of his married life was smooth and everything went on well. But for the past six months, something came between them and it always ended in heated arguments.
Unable to control his anger, Ram kicked the door to open and walked aimlessly. If he was at work, things changed within hours. He knew very well when he is behind the wheels he needs to be calm and should not be tensed.
If his attention gets distracted just for a few seconds that can cost the precious life of so many passengers who traveled in the bus.
Every day he came across so many people in his life. People who belonged to all walks of life traveled in the bus. He could easily assess the moods of his passengers.
Observing them for a while always helped him to relax his mind and be relieved. But on that day, he could not control his wavering mind.
He felt so emotional and was on the edge of breaking out. His pent up feelings reached a peak on that day and his legs pressed the accelerator more often, and the bus rushed forward with speed. He applied brakes suddenly now and then and could hear the curse of the passengers from behind. Yet, he was not ready to listen.
“Hi, what happened to day? Why are you driving so fast?” His colleague stood behind him and kept on asking him.
“Nothing” Ram replied in one word and stared at the road before him.
“Why doesn’t god take me away from this world? I just don’t want to live here.” Ram murmured to himself.
“It is fine if you decide to die. But don’t do that now.” His colleague replied to his murmur.
Ram looked at him irritated. “Cool, cool. Spare my life my dear friend.” With a smile, his colleague moved to his seat.
Ram pressed the accelerator more and the bus overlooking every other vehicle on the road, zoomed past the traffic.
When he came to a turning that connected the other road, Ram applied the brake with a force. This sent a jerk throughout the bus and some people who were standing in the bus slipped their hold and fell on the floor of the bus.
Sheila who was on her own thoughts did not realize the commotion that shook the bus. Before she could prevent her head from hitting against the backside of the front seat, her forehead dashed against it. Within seconds she fell unconscious on the seat.
“Stop the bus” Everyone started to shout together. The whole crowd in the bus rushed to Sheila. They wanted to see what happened to her.
“Is she hit badly?”
“Check if she got any head injury”
“Can someone bring here some water?” People shouted from every end. Luckily, Sheila’s colleague Rita also traveled in the same bus. She rushed toward Sheila. With the help of some women, Rita made her sit properly on the seat.
She sprinkled some water on her face and helped her to regain consciousness.
“You, stupid, what is the need to rush?” The traffic police constable at the road screamed at Ram. It took some time for him to realize what happened.
The rising emotions within him were drained in those moments of shock and abuse from everywhere. It reminded once again the verbal abuse that he faced everyday at home.
Ram wanted to scream and tell them that it was not his fault. He was not crazy to drive so fast and risk his own life. His common sense asked him to keep his mouth shut and be a silent spectator for whatever that happened around him.
Without knowing how to handle the situation, he looked at his colleague. His glance told his friend what he meant.
He apologized to everyone on his behalf and asked Ram to drive the bus to the nearest hospital and drop Sheila there.
Without a reply, Ram started the bus. At heart he felt nervous and guilty. He could see the pain in the eyes of Sheila. His heart turned toward her and he felt sorry for her.
By the time Sheila reached the hospital, she got a huge bulge on her forehead, and the right portion of her face became greenish blue due to the sudden impact of hitting on the front seat.
The doctor asked her to stay in the hospital as he thought it important for her to be under observation.
Sheila’s husband came to the hospital. He did not show any reaction on his face. After getting her something to eat, he left the hospital around 10 pm.
The nurse gave her a sedative injection which helped her to have a sound sleep not disturbed by wild dreams.
It took another ten days for her to return to normal. The bulge on her forehead went away in the next morning itself.
Luckily she did not have any fracture on her skull. The doctor told her the greenish blue on the right side of the face will go away slowly. It can take days or even weeks to disappear.
Sheila returned to the office after ten days. The world looked new and bright. Some people who always traveled with her smiled at her and enquired about her health.
“Hello, how are you?” Sheila exchanged all the greetings with a smile and told them she is perfectly normal. So far, she traveled alone in the bus without anyone to talk to her. But the sudden incident changed the entire scenario.
Sheila was happy to know she has so many well wishers who wished her good health and happiness.
When Ram got into the bus, he saw her sitting in her usual place in the front seat. Ram could not help smiling at her.
“Sorry. How are you”? He enquired her in a low tone.
“Good. I am back to normal.”
“Once again sorry for whatever happened.” Ram apologized to her once again.
“No issues. You carry on.” Sheila replied him with a smile and started to read the book.
Days went on. With silent exchange of smiles, a bond of friendship developed between them.
It was once again a Friday evening. Sheila had to stay back in the office till 8:00 pm as she had to finish the urgent requirement of a new project.
When she left the office it was around 8:15 pm. There were a very few people standing in the bus stop. She has never been so late from the office, and the darkness scared her.
Luckily, the bus arrived within five minutes. Luckily, she got a seat near the window.
After two bus stops, Ram climbed into the bus. He saw Sheila sitting in the front. He moved to the front and occupied the seat that was across from her seat.
“Hello, so late.” Ram asked her with a concern in his tone.
“Yes, something important to be done at the office. I could not avoid staying back late.” Sheila replied him.
“How long you are working here?” Ram asked her.
“For the past one year I am working here.”
“Oh. How many kids do you have?” Sheila looked at him for a while. She did not want the conversation to be personal. Yet, she did not want to reply him rudely.
“Lucky. We don’t have kids.” Ram replied and turned to the front. He did not ask her any more questions.
Talking about kids always turned into a sensitive issue for him. At heart he felt as a man who was defeated and normal happiness was always away from him.
“Is it off today?” Sheila asked him.
“Yes, I am returning home. I had some personal work at our head office.” Though he did not want to continue the conversation with her, he was forced to reply to her question.
“Are you a member in the union?” This question shocked him as he did not expect such a question from her.
“Yes. Why do you want to know?” Ram asked her.
“Nothing, just like that I wanted to know.” Sheila remarked.
“Hi, Ram.” Ram’s colleague who was driving the bus called him from the front.
“Excuse me.” Ram got up from his place and moved over to his colleague.
Till they reached the place, Ram was having a busy conversation with his colleague. Without any parting words, Sheila got down at her place.
“When it comes to Math, you are a non-performer.” Ram looked at his father.
“Why you always get low marks in Math? If it is going to be like this, one day you will be on the roads only.” His frequent words came true one day. The day he joined as a driver in the transport corporation.
Even though it was a government job, his father never stopped criticizing him. While his other brothers were all employed in prestigious positions, Ram could only grab a driver position.
“You are a non-performer.” The same words came out of his wife, Divya also.
The day she realized he is different from other members in the family, she started to feel insecure. She felt out of place during a family gathering and ignored to move casually with the other family members.
Ram could somehow manage things while they lived along with his parents. Living along with the parents gave him the moral support and he successfully managed all types of issues within the four walls
Initially, Ram did not take it seriously. But gradually it developed within her and whenever she had mood fluctuations words turned into verbal abuse.
Though Ram wanted to take her to a doctor and get treated in the beginning itself, she refused to accompany him and did whatever she thought as correct.
“You are a non-performer. Don’t you know how to be in bed with me?” Divya would question him often.
“Ug, I don’t want to be in saree when I sleep.”
“I feel so dirty to do this with my clothes on.” Divya will come out with all types of complaints when they were together. When he realized none of his answers could shut her mouth, he stopped responding to her verbal outburst.
“You never know how to satisfy me. You just do things as it is a routine thing like signing in the attendance register.” Divya’s words did not evoke any response from him. Ram learnt to shut his mouth tight whenever she started to abuse verbally.
“Hmm, I am not lucky. I can’t enjoy life as I wish.” Divya kept on murmuring.
Ram ignored her words, turned around and went to sleep. If he is not going to have proper sleep at night, he will not be able to drive safely with concentration.
When he reached home, Divya was not at home. She was busy gossiping with her neighbors. Though she knew, he was back at home, she did not mind to get up and come inside. She went on with the discussion seriously.
Ram went into the kitchen to check if there was something to eat. Work at the head office occupied his time and so he was forced to skip his lunch and have some snacks. Ram took a plate and served some rice and curry and came to the front room.
After switching on the television, he started to eat his food. Till he finished eating, Divya did not turn inside.
Ram could hear her laughing loudly and making nasty comments to others. Her absurd remarks had an immediate effect on him and he could not avoid letting out a deep sigh. Ten minutes after he finished eating his food Divya came in.
“Oh, you have come. I didn’t see you walking in.” Without expecting his reply she went inside the kitchen and started to make an omelette for her.
“Can’t you wait? What is the need to hurry to have food so soon?” Divya started the conversation.
“I felt hungry. So had my food” Ram replied her casually.
After having her food, Divya cleaned the kitchen and finished washing the vessels. As she used to do during the early days of their married life, she came and sat near him. She took the remote from him and changed the TV channels.
“I am going to be in trouble” Ram murmured himself.
“What are you murmuring?” Divya demanded.
“Nothing, you seem to be in high spirits” Ram replied her.
“Do you know what happened today?” Divya started to narrate what happened on that particular afternoon and how she helped others to come out of that difficulty.
She told him about the gossips that went around and also about the latest gossip about film stars and others in the film industry.
Though Divya knew Ram never liked to hear such gossips, she kept on blabbering for another thirty minutes. Ram listened to her without making any comments. This irritated Divya.
“Why are you not replying?” Divya demanded.
“Nothing, I am feeling tired. I want to sleep.” Ram replied.
“You will have ears for everyone, but not for me.” Divya complained.
“I didn’t tell you anything. Please, will you let me sleep” Ram’s request made her silent for a while.
“Good, go to sleep” Divya switched off the television. She went to lock the door and switched on the night lamp.
After switching off the main light, she did not go to sleep in her usual place. To Ram’s surprise, she rested her head on his shoulder. Ram understood what she implied, and he also knew what he must do.
The next morning dawned with a pleasant surprise to Ram. Divya, who always sleep late and get up from bed after he left for work, was busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen.
As one more surprise Divya had taken her bath and was pleasant to look at. Strings of jasmine decorated her hair and her face glowed with the tint of fresh turmeric. Ram could not believe his eyes.
“What is happening with her?” The sudden change brought him a smile.
“If she is like this forever, I will be lucky” When Ram came back to the front room after his bath, he was quite shocked to see his uniform neatly ironed and kept on the table.
“It is unbelievable” He murmured to himself.
“Don’t forget to have your breakfast. I have packed your lunch also” Divya spoke loudly from the kitchen.
“I could not believe my eyes” Ram told her back.
“It is not any thing new that is happening today. Have your breakfast and leave for work. We can discuss it in the evening.” Divya replied him.
“If this is going to happen forever, I will be happy” Ram smiled at her.
“It will be like that forever. Now get ready to go for work” Divya did not sound rude. The sudden positive change in her made him smile happily. For a flickering moment, Sheila came to his thoughts.
“Did she bring the positive change in my life? I must thank her first.” Ram felt relieved and happy after a very long time.
Most of his friends were happy to see him beaming with smile.
“What is the special news? You look very happy.” Every one teased him.
“Nothing to share” He did not want to share this happiness with anyone except Sheila.
After leaving her kids at her mother’s place in a nearby town, Sheila was returning back to Chennai. It was different to travel alone without her kids. Her kids filled the gap that her husband failed to fill and they always take care to make her feel relaxed and not worried.
In spite of her husband’s indifferent attitude, Sheila moved forward with the emotional support of her kids.
Sheila started to wonder how her time would be at home without her kids. Staying alone with him and facing his ill-mannered activities throughout the day would definitely make her feel nervous and unhappy.
He may demand to be together often as the kids were not at home and they were alone. She had to struggle to find an excuse to be left alone or not to be disturbed often.
Numerous thoughts occupied her mind and made her heart feel low. With depressed heart, Sheila reached home around 7 pm. Without talking anything to her husband, she ate her food and went to bed early.
The next four days went on without any stress. The days went on with her routine work at home and office. Sheila slept well on all these four days, yet, she missed her kids. The routine, stress free days helped to stabilize and wish for the best to happen.
“You have changed a lot” Sheila looked at her husband. She did not reply to his comment.
“What is happening with you?” He enquired.
“Nothing” She replied in a lower tone.
“Don’t think I can’t understand your feelings. I know you hate me from your heart” His answer shocked her.
“No, it is not like that” She defended.
“No need to deny. I know” Sheila stood dumb searching for words.
“If you really don’t like anything with me, tell me. I will try to change myself”
Sheila could not believe her eyes. What happened to him? Is he talking the truth or trying to convince her to get things done in his own way.
“I know you will not believe me. But give me an opportunity to prove myself.”
Sheila could not control her tears. At last god has listened to her prayers. She thanked once again wishing that change to be permanent.
“What do you want me to do?” Ram looked at the Manager.
“It is not good for you. Don’t take part with all the activities of the union.” He told him again.
Though the Manager was his classmate till he completed his schooling, they both differed in many ways.
“I am not talking to you as a Manager now. I advise you as your school friend Richard. Please” Once again he tried to convince and get him out of the election.
“No need to convince me again and again. I have already decided. This year I will participate in the election and try for a position in the union.” Ram replied him in a stubborn tone.
“Hmm, why don’t you keep yourself away from all these things” Richard asked him in a pleading tone.
“The reason is I want to help people around me” Ram replied.
“You can do it in so many ways. Please, don’t get into this. It can spoil your family life also. Already you are in trouble, why to have these also.” Richard answered.
“Will you please stop this nonsense? Who told you I have problems at home?” Ram could not control his anger.
“Ok, I will not go personal. But listen to me.” Richard requested him.
“No one can stop me. I will be in the elections.” Ram left the place immediately.