“It depends”, she says, to nothing and no one in particular. That seems to be an acceptable answer to the illustrious company drinking its coffee on that smoky patio. She stares out at the sea, unmindful of the discussion that ploughs forward, as her thoughts wind back to memories from a distant land.
It was not a forgettable trip. Well, not quite, for she doesn’t remember the details of the trip now. She knows they had gone to some beach, after a visit to some IT organization as part of an industrial training. Such “filler” visits were common back then, earning the class some credit points, subsidies and a day off from college.
She is losing track of the discussion now. Someone is directing a question at her. “Well, one has to see how it plays out,” she responds. That should suffice for now.
The beach was hot, April-hot. Lunch sharing was happening, like it used to in school. Only this wasn’t school. They couldn’t giggle in peace, all these big boys making fun and imitating them. It was intimidating, abnormal and unnatural.
Someone giggles. Another says, “Aapko kya lagta hai?” She snaps back to reality again with an appropriate response. “Aise hi random bolte hai yaar log. Kabhi kabhi samajh mein ni aata hai ki client kaun aur consultant kaun.”
“Enna romba petera?” was the first question one boy asked her at lunch. She didn’t understand. “What is peter”, she asked in return, only to be ridiculed further. Apparently, ‘peter’ referred to anyone who spoke a lot of English. ‘Uff, I hate them’, she murmured to herself while retreating further into her girls’ gang.
The tea is getting cold, the wind a little chilly today. Conversation has turned to the cricket match fiasco. Inane, coffee table conversation. At tea time, near the balustrade.
The girls’ gang looked unhappy what with she claiming that the boys had been at their unruly best. Not that she was the best judge of how the average boy behaved, but her opinion seemed to count there. That is when he came up to her, the guy who hadn’t ridiculed her, her voice or her language. The guy, she secretly liked. “Can I have some water?” he asked.
“How come you make and get food from home? You aren’t married right?”, someone asks her. “No, I am not”, she says. The distant sea rumbles a little, a storm seems to be brewing.