Kavya , you’re really nice :)

Six thirty in the morning . The digitized strains of Yaariyaan were resounding in her ears . As Amit Chauhan’s voice said hello to her joined earlobes , she woke up , rubbing her eyes . The blue green irises she inherited from her mother darted around her shared accomodation , looking for any signs of familiarity . The hostel mates she had for company were company only in namesake , making sure she felt as hostile as possible . She woke up fully now , and went to the kitchen to make herself a cupaa joe .

As she waited for the ancient heater to heat the diluted milk concoction with the instant coffee mixture , she wonder how she’s be dressing today . Would it be the green salwar kameez with the little chikan endings that she found incredibly nice , or the levis jeans she had purchased a few months ago , after delibrating if a pair of branded tight leggings was worth an entire two and a half grand of Mahatma Gandhi printed paper . “I wonder how the jeans would look with the white tee “ , she thought to herself . “Ah well , white and blue with a bit of chunky metal never went wrong on any occasion “ , she reasoned .

The coffee now heated to a steaming crescendo , she took it out and poured it out into a mug , without sugar . “Shakkar khaogee to moti ho jaaogi beti “ , her mother used to say . A half smile creeped up her perfect lips , almost jokingly . As if the weight influenced her nature of work . Ha! , analyzing stock patterns for Russian businessmen . Those Russian Mafioso were all about the money , straight down to business , no pleasentaries even . But recently , the opportunities on the grey region of the moralistic black and white spectrum weren’t interesting enough . So a little side venture had begun .

She’d feel neglected , as though she was used up like a rag doll, her flower penetrated for selfish purposes and left aside to dry out in the cold North winds. That wasn’t true in the technical sense though . She’d been getting letters of appreciation , soap boxes , chocolate hampers , spa coupons and mac makeup kits by the box loads ….the works . But the satisfaction of a six foot blonde Nordic man thousands of miles away from her didn’t do much to satisfy her appetite . She wanted something a lot more …..personal .

Since the day she could solve question papers , her conservative parents had made sure she aced every test she ever wrote .  And she was happy doing so , thinking their satisfaction was all that mattered anyways in life . “Kavya , why did you get only 87 in this pareeksha beti? what happened ? why are you losing concentration again ? Do you want me to give you more almonds in the morning ? “ . And there was the abuse , the constant , continued abuse , right until she ran off to college , away from home . Dad was someone she idolized , no doubt , but his savage beatings used to scare her no end . One bad test result , or him getting to know one guy liked her , and she was as useful as cancer cells in her fragile brain . I don’t know , maybe seeing others appreciate her was her way of seeing this from a rose colored lens . Maybe there was a better world after all , where she wasn’t judged at every turning of her life , and her achievements were…validated . Maybe the world was a better place after all , even though this was the optimist in her talking . Daddy was always a source of terror for her , and running away from home to someplace far away seemed like the answer .

She called up Arindam , calling in sick that day , even though she was in the pink of health . Arindam agreed without a second thought , Kavya was one of her most valuable assets , and giving her what she wanted once in a while wouldn’t hurt the company , and certainly not the productivity . She could do in an hour what would take most employees a good three .

There was anger in her , all stemming in from the fact that no one at office , home , the hostel or her friends appreciated her enough . “ I mean , wasn’t that was I was told from the beginning … good grades is the key to happiness . Get a minimum of ninety in every exam you ever write , and you’re automatically on the way to popularity . Everyone will say how cool you really are and there’s that . “ . But sadly , past her prime , Kavya realized this . Grades are what they are , letterings marked on a piece of laminated paper , not the key to happiness , or for that matter , success .

Already seven fifteen , Kavya was almost done deciding what she would be wearing . The jeans it was . After twenty minutes of messing around with the hair curler and concluding she was getting nowhere , she simply decided to leave it that way . Open , free , with a strand of those jet black tresses falling carelessly over her frameless glasses . A white tee with a bit of flowery print on it , some jewellery over her neck later , she was done . She was done , ready to find appreciation .

Kavya hailed an auto , the blistering morning cold of Delhi already getting on her nerves . “Hauz Khas chalogey bhayya ? “ . The driver nodded mutely , staring at her 32 D’s all the while . Twenty minutes of Delhi roads later , there she was , the orphanage .She’d brought along all the chocolates she’d got from the Russians , and some more . And toys for everyone . And she’d told Rambhai at the chat bhandar near her place to arrange hot chaat for all the kids .

There was another person , a certain  Varun Reddy , someone she met on the metro . She didn’t even know his last name , just that he told he’d be there that Sunday to help her out . And they’d met all because he liked she book she was reading on the metro .He gave a wide smile , not saying anything . He expressed gratitude for what she was doing , or maybe he was just checking her out , or maybe he was glad too that the kids had something to look forward to look to on that gloomy Sunday . Maybe his flared nostrills were indicating sexual interest , or maybe it was just that some pollen had gotten into his nose . His cheeks were flushed red . Maybe that was because he was happy to see her , or maybe the December cold was taking its toll on his Aryan skin . His breathing was shallow . Maybe that was because of his heart beating at an elevated rate , or maybe it was just his heart pumping in extra liquid to counter the excess chill that India’s capital was known for .Kavya didn’t care . Kavya didn’t care if Varun’s behaviour indicated if it was sexual interest or not . All she knew was Varun acknowledged her , he was happy to see her And she liked Varun too , though the inbuilt fear that came with the physical scars prevented her from teliing him so , maybe she would ….someday . Maybe she’d drop a hint today , maybe she’d give him that beautiful smile of hers . Maybe not , she didn’t know . . She was happy that she was finally doing something that mattered to her , something meaningful .

Twenty feet away , seven pani puris and a toblerone later , eight year old Raj was happy . He’d even got a power ranger model that he could play with , maybe even hold a display with all his other friends at the place where he called home . He wanted to tell thank you to the didi who had done this for him . Raj wanted to tell the words , but he couldn’t . The God people placed their trust in had been unkind to him . He didn’t care much for that fact .He didn’t care that he had no parents like the other kids whose parents used to buy their kid son papdi or a balloon from the vendor who used to shrill out really loudly on Hauz Khas road .  Atleast didi was nice to him . And that is what his tiny mind was able to understand and process . He didn’t know how to tell Kavya how happy he was . And then his mind understood a way to tell that he appreciated what didi did for home . He ran as fast as his stick like legs would propel him forwards , and gave Kavya didi a big , tight hug . A salty tear rolled down Kavya’s spectacle covered eyes .


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