23 year old Swapna was strolling at the man-made walk area of her corporate office campus. She was the lone support for the day in the midnight shift. There was one more hour to go for her 3.00 a.m. log out and then an hour of journey on unknown lone roads, way back home. The roads she never knew directions of – inspite of having travelled them for months now.
The walk-area was a circular route connecting all the other innumerable glass-buildings inside the campus. Innumerable – was purely her notion, she often felt lost and dazed inside simplest of the glass buildings; this campus was comparatively huge!
‘join us for chai?’ called out Arim , a regular graveyarder from another team on the floor, out of courtesy.
‘aaj nahi, thanks’ – this brand new glamorous world had taught this to her rather faster, of what a ‘chai’ meant in the midnight!
She stood near the compound that faced the main roads and stared at the building that stood in-progess right in front of her, across the road. The world waited for the construction to get over, this was going to be a brand new shopping mall tentatively called the glitz mall – a place to hang out during breaks and time-offs – just a road cross away. To her, it was just a road cross to and from - yet another dim, vague world.
With point-blank mind, she continued walking, looking at the stars. That world felt much familiar than the world she was physically in – she was amused - still looking up the sky.
Just when she was sky-gazing with a slight cheer on her face, a 28’ish year old woman bumped into her. Swapna instantly felt some warmth with the woman’s presence.
‘heyaaaaa’ – cried out the woman, in a tone too loud and confident for a midnight. Swapna noticed a beautiful tattoo in her left arm, a design she could not identify, nevertheless it was an impressive one.
‘hellooo’ – Swapna in a humble tone.
‘I see you often with your teamies, you walking alone today?’
‘low staffing. I am the only one till 3?’
‘ah..i see..i know..holiday week’ – there was energy in every word the lady spoke.
‘by the way, whats your name’ – the lady continued.
‘oww…I too am Swapna!’ – both were startled. The 23-year old was rather, happy. She seldom felt so, ever since she had entered this world that never failed to suffocate her.
‘Well, I had always felt like telling you this, never got the right chance, now it is’ – the 28 year old woman was bubbling like a kid.
The 23-year old was surprised. What would a stranger have to tell her at this point of time?! Nevertheless, she agreed – someone to pass some time with. Moreover, she admired every aspect of the woman, for some unknown reasons
‘well this world might seem little weird and totally glitzy n glammy, but it aint that bad either’ – blabbered the woman.
‘the glass buildings?! ..the sky-rising stuff...the make-ups..and the glam? Everything that ain’t seem natural, rather..real?’
‘aaah..i get it’ – the 23 year old was rather uncomfortable with the candid talks of the stranger. But she was more blown out by the woman’s charisma, she let her continue.
‘I know you don’t feel a belonging here…many feel so.’ – the woman’s voice had depth now.
Swapna could hardly believe, the woman was speaking out Swapna’s mind! She looked into the woman’s eyes.
‘then why does it exist!’ – Swapna blurted out like a child. If this woman was a deity or a statue, she would have knelt down, yelled and poured out to her hearts content.
‘well..i don’t have an answer! But thank it does – to fill some of your needs atleast!’– replied the woman with a curt smile. That was Swapna’s truth indeed!
‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.. this is someone else’s life that I’m living! Where is my world? Where are they?’ – cried Swapna again, not knowing herself as to who were ‘they’, not even realizing what was she blabbering.
The woman cool-headedly took the girl’s cries. She seemed to know what was running in her mind.
‘You know. Sometimes you just need to do what feels just the right thing to do. You may not like it always’ – asserted the woman. She sounded rather strong, although light, in her words.
Swapna’s half-matured mind failed to comprehend the woman’s words. Nevertheless, she hung on, just because the woman’s presence felt warm – the warmth that somehow made her feel good. She looked much more happier than Swapna was! The woman's tattoo seemed to attract her more!
‘as if I have a choice’ – Swapna softened down
‘Responsibilities are not burdens. Your time will come’ - the woman smiled again.
‘its just a part of your journey, a process. Not the end at all! You do need to tread rough roads to reach a beautiful end. An all-smooth journey brings no fun, no adventure, you see’ – the woman spoke in a pop-philosophical way, raising her brows. She seemed to mean what she was talking, all the more quite shrewd in her tone.
The 23-year old felt pleased. The woman’s words were doing some change into her brain – was it her words, or was it the way she had expressed them – she did not know. All she felt was – an admiration – a lighter feeling – on hearing the woman’s words.
'why am i Never able to figure a way out?'
'why am i Never able to figure a way out?'
‘Dude! Find your way within, and then see the world outside you..you will find them..you wil find your home’ – the woman assured, as she pressed Swapna’s shoulder. The words mystified Swapna, although they seemed apt at that moment! Swapna blinked.
‘Find your way within’ – the woman repeated with a shrewd tone, this time poking the girl on her arm.
‘Find your way within’ – the woman’s voice seemed to echo, her poke felt endless.
‘Find your way within’ – the woman seemed stuck with her mantra, that now confused Swapna..her arm started to hurt..
‘Dude! Its 2: 50 am already! you need to go home!’ – it was Arim again, poking Swapna for the last 5 minutes trying to wake her up.
Swapna breathed a deep breath out. ‘Thanks, buddy’ – she thanked, pressing her forehead. It was time to leave.
A trail of tasks in the day – running around for her brother’s admissions, a list of bill payments, a long travel to her work, a half-broken sleep, some desires unaccomplished – had taken a toll on her – throughout the day she longed for someone who could take away all the burden off her, make her feel free.
‘Thanks for the wake-up call…I wanna go home!’ - half-sleepy, half-awake, repeating the woman’s words. Arim was already gone!
Before she set out towards the glass building’s basement, she took out her phone and clicked a picture of her name-board that read ‘Swapna K. Thomas’. She packed her bag, boarded her cab, and started yet another journey on the roads she could still not identify with.
‘you will find them.’ - the words still mystified her as much as the unknown roads did! who are those 'they'
‘Find your way within..’ – the woman’s words kept ringing in her mind…who was that woman, by the way? – she wondered, but the thought of her still amused Swapna. the woman was all that she was not at that moment, yet so admirable, sso familiar!
…and here comes the DA bridge – you said take the 3rd left from under the DA bridge, 2nd right from the Minar’s grocery store, 5th building from the Golden Villa under construction – and here’s the Club!! How many times have you been here – lady? All the way from a 35 kms drive!
‘just once, Matty’ – Swapna looked with an attituted at her beau. The couple was heading for a party, just a month before their wedding.
‘..and you were like Bingo at it! Someone said you are pathetic at glass buildings and routes! Who the eff said that..’– Mat made fun of Swapna’s own words, as he winked.
‘I don’t know – honestly’ – the 28 year old Architect kidded.
She grinned as she browsed through an old album in her phone, that of the name-board that bore the name of the girl she was, 5 years ago - Swapna K. Thomas -
Mat held her hand, and gazed at the enchanting tattoo on Swapna's left arm.