“Hey there!”, read the text.
The chime from the overused phone was loud in the dark room lit only by the light coming from a beer bottle. That’s how she liked it. She had gotten the bottle from one of her friends, not because she did not drink, but because she wanted it to be made of things she never owned. She had filled the bottle with the long LED strip that she had stolen from the church Christmas tree, not because she couldn’t afford one, but because she wanted it to be filled with something that she had taken by force and against permission. She plugged the sapphire bottle full of little bulbs into the socket by the side of her bed, and watched it glow and fade out, repeating itself in a continuous pattern, like someone so high from an intoxicant trying to stay awake against the kick, trying to force their eyes open, only to find it closing ever so slowly, their will against the will of the high. The pattern kept changing, sometimes like a flow, slowly going back and forth, sometimes like a madman, dancing wildly, without any particular rhythm, and sometimes like a cockroach faced with a torchlight, just staying there, not moving, not knowing, not caring. But no matter what it did, it didn’t light up her room. The light kept coming, it kept leaving too, ever present but never enough, lighting up the room in a sudden spirit, only to make way for complete darkness. She stared at it with a curious wonderment as to how something as simple as as a bedlamp could tell her so much about life; that how a trash bottle and a few stolen bulbs told her that no matter how forcefully she tried to keep something that wasn’t hers, it wouldn’t shine a light good enough if it did not belong to her.
She had called one of her best friends as soon as she had thought about it. It was early in the morning and the call was not answered. The familiar dialler tone from a recent movie played twice before she decided to give up. She knew that the thought was silly. She had found herself thinking against it, the familiar voice in her head chastising her for even considering such a thought. But to her fear and surprise, she heard yet another voice, stronger than the familiar one in some strange way, advocating the thought, gently, purposefully, as if it was guiding her towards the direction of the thought, one arm on her arm, the other on her shoulder, like a pedestrian helping a blind person cross the road.
She had texted a few of her colleagues and even an old friend from school while she was at work, later that day. Most didn’t respond and the ones that did promised that they’d get back soon. She knew that ‘soon’ was the worst time to get back to someone, because when it comes to trying to reach a lost cause, nothing is soon enough; and ‘soon’ is the closest loss, the moment before the realisation that you failed, giving you just enough time to realise your loss but not enough to do anything about it.
He had called her that day. It was evening already and she was having her favorite cup of coffee. “Coffee makes everything better”, she thought! And here was, calling her just when she needed him to. “Maybe there’s magic in coffee”, she told him. Though he didn’t understand, she made no effort to explain. He explained his day, told her that he loved her and that he’d call her after dinner that night, before going to bed. She smiled, nodded and hummed at all the right places and returned to her cup of magic once he disconnected the call.
“You need to watch that figure”, her boss who was like an elder sister to her, said, winking. “You drink too much coffee, dear! Could you not at least cut down on the sugar?” She winked in reply saying, ” now, don’t deprive me of the ounce of sweetness in my hefty day, boss-lady!” She had, however, decided to take the night’s coffee black and without sugar by the time she had finished that sentence.
She loved coming home to the precision of her comfort in the evening. She always knew where things were and how to get to them even if she were blindfolded. Unpacking on the desk with one hand, she bit a chunk of the diet rusk from her other hand aggressively. The bag flew to the bed, followed by her top and pants, and finally her own body. She pressed her face against the pillow, which was warm from the afternoon sun. The fan was whirring monotonous circles. Though it was not doing much to give any sort of wind, the sound was relaxing; like the snore of a familiar person. “I wouldn’t even know what to tell them”, she thought with a smile scrolling through her contact list. She opened Facebook and Instagram to check for notifications, scrolled a while further on WhatsApp and finally clicked the lock button and lay on her back, arms, legs and hair spread, with the phone still in her right hand.
She woke up some time around ten in the night and had that coffee, black and without sugar, just like she had planned. She twisted the tomato knife in her hand, looking at it with immense love and gratitude. She pressed it to her wrist and waited for a last minute revelation. The universe stayed silent, shrugging as if there was nothing to reveal. Her eyes welled up while she smiled and nodded her head in acknowledgement.
“Hey there!”, read the text, at around twelve. It was midnight.
“Sorry, was a bit busy today! Boss is dumping everything on me. As if I’m the only one in this office, urggghhh! “
” I’ll catch you soon, bro! You sleep for now. My night had just begun. Lawta things to do before I turn myself in for bed”
” Good night! Laaaw you! “
The light from the beer bottle turned bedlamp kept fading in and out. And if one looked closely enough, one could see a curled up figure on the bed, one of the arms hanging loose by the side of the bed, dripping little bulbs of red onto the floor.
There were five texts, all unanswered.
There were one thousand and sixty eight Facebook friends and a pending friend request.
There were five hundred and thirty nine Instagram followers and five notifications for posts from earlier.
There were texts from at least seven WhatsApp groups, left to read.