‘Would you care to listen?’ Her large expressive eyes pleaded with me.
‘But I don’t have that much time,’ I responded impatiently ignoring her sad looks.
‘Oh! Well then let’s get on with it.’ She looked away, her earnest gaze shifted slightly to look beyond me at the chipped dirty walls of her room. Then slowly, as if in a trance, she removed her clothes.
I had never felt as selfish in my life as I did at that moment.
Afterwards, while I sat on her bed and smoked the last cigarette of the day, she made herself busy trying to tidy up up her run- down room. Not that she could do much about it. I noticed distractedly.
Located in one of the most notorious and neglected areas of the city, the one bedroom asbestos sheet house was somehow kept together, as if by sheer will- power.
‘How long have you lived here?’ I asked looking at her slim back.
‘Huh? Oh! Well…since I came to the city,’ she replied, folding her clothes kept in a bundle in a corner.
‘You don’t belong to Chandigarh?’ I don’t know what prompted me to converse with her. A part of me just wanted to leave.
‘No. I was brought here five years ago,’ she whispered.
‘Wow! That’s a long time.’ Mentally, I quickly tried guessing her current age. She looked about nineteen. And if so, she must have not been more than thirteen or fourteen.
‘Yes,’ she said, giving me one her enigmatic smiles that attracted me to her the first time.
‘Hmm. Do you still want to tell me your story?’
‘If you have the time to listen to it? Lilly told me you are a writer. Maybe you will like my story and write about it,’ she answered in a hopeful voice.
‘So how would that help you?’
‘It will. I will feel happy. Besides, it may help some other girl…you know…,’ she left the words hanging mid -way.
‘Hmm.’ I nodded not really wanting her to elaborate and not at all sure whether I should stay to listen to her story. Yet I was curious about her.
For one, she looked unlike the others I was used to. In fact she kept herself so simple that I had totally failed to notice her until she had herself hesitantly approached me. It was only then that I actually took note of her. And even though she was dressed simply in a white tee over a faded printed skirt and and wore no make - up she looked attractive. Very attractive. In fact, if I had seen her somewhere else I would have mistaken her for one of those uptown giggly college girls I crossed every day while on my way to work.
'So you will stay?' She asked, meeting me in the eye.
Her eagerly hopeful voice somehow stopped me from leaving.
'I have about a couple of hours before I have to report for work. I guess I can go directly to office from here. But don’t take too long. Okay?’ I inquired seriously.
'Really?? Oh…thank you so much!' Her eyes lit up. It pleased me to see her happy but instead of sharing her smile I maintained my aloof stance and replied,
'Hey! I said I will listen. Nothing more to it.'
'Yes. I know. That's enough,' she said giving me the same enigmatic smile I was growing used to.