Page 99 - November 2020
P. 99

November 2020           99

                                                         THE CHILL

               The  office  room  was  bare  and  bland.  A  portrait  of  a  matriarch  hung  on  its
               nondescript wall stared uncomfortably at Ayesha. In spite of her Indian robes she
               had an uncanny similarity to some erstwhile Victorian queen Ayesha had met in her
               SS  books.  Suddenly  her  cough  shattered  the  freeze  of  the  office  as  she  felt  the
               lump of an irregular ice cube swelling in her throat. It reverberated along the foggy
               corridor making the PA girl raise her head and arch her brow with a sigh. Only then

               she realized that her cough and the family’s hushed talks were the only sounds that
               were heard in that campus. The air was vapid without a bird’s chirp or the wind’s
               lap.    No  one  dared  to  break  that  imperial  silence  until  the  door  to  the  Managing
               Trustee’s room opened

               He was almost obscure in the grey light that filled the chamber. Accommodation
               shaped a suited figure in Ayesha’s eyes and in a flash she saw that his heart was
               not  empty  but  filled  with  an  avalanche  of  stale  snow.  “Allah”,  she  froze  in  the
               tentacles of icicle.

               Even  while  seated  in  the  college  auditorium  for  the  orientation  program  she’s
               desperately  trying  to  warm-up  by  rubbing  hands.The  unrest  in  the  crowd  was
               palpable.  No  one  dared  to  interact  with  one  another.  It’s  as  if  they  had  already

               auscultated MT’s deep set likes and dislikes.  As the disciplined faculty members
               quietly  assembled  on  the  dais  resembling  a  troop  MT  commandeered  with  his

               She could barely give attention to his speech that meandered through the history
               of  this  great  institute  started  by  the  white  ‘Mother  Queen’  in  the  portrait  to  its
               impeccable  present  stature  to  how  any  attempts  to  sully  the  same  will  not  be
               tolerated at any cost.  All through she struggled to keep her warmth thus missing
               crucial dictums on strict ban on mingling with the opposite sex and use of any sort
               of gadgetry in the form of mobiles and laptops.

               So  she  was  obviously  surprised  when  the  MT’s  well-mannered  and  pretty  wife
               came and confiscated her mobile and laptop. The wife even separated the closely
               set cots and when they quizzed her with silence she said, “Body contact between
               roommates is against the institute’s moral code of conduct….” The minute she said
               that  a  warm  breath  of  repugnance  and  apology  emanated  from  her  and  touched
               Ayesha, and she instantly saw that the wife was taller than the MT and she didn’t
               love him at all and she still harboured some recesses in her heart not clogged by

               snow avalanches. ‘Yah Allah!’ Ayesha raised her frozen palms through the fog.
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