Wednesday 1 April 2009

FlashFiction 2009 FeaturedWriter Maitreyi Karnoor

Expensive Automobile

An ugly fellow he was. Wore a nonchalant, vacant expression. I only saw his torso. The rest of him was covered by the 'expensive automobile' he was driving. It was off-white, with a pearly sheen and a metallic green embellishing. Looked like an SUV, but I couldn't tell. Could never tell much about cars anyway… apart from say 'Otto engines' by the sound they made. 

But these days they make diesel engines so smooth and noiseless, they purr like a cat being stroked. I'm not sure if this one purred. My senses were trained on his looks. He had a short neck and a noticeable stoop as he bent over the steering wheel. Was rather rude of me to have ignored Hari next to me. We were discussing the terms of the job he’d offered me. It is a long way before punctuation will be obsolete, but Hari had promised to overlook my intolerance with detail. Then I looked at the funny man, and Hari disappeared. His face was long, with a broad forehead, tapering towards the chin. But it had the most unusual, corrugated, wave-like rise and fall of the edges. So like a designer’s version of a V—a designer with an expensive education from a fashionable school, provided by indulgent parents. As expensive as the car he was driving.  

He had a weird shirt on, looked quite like a blouse. The sleeves definitely were cut like a Goan woman’s blouse—broad at the end, going down at the armpits. It was a dull red, but looked brighter in the harsh noon Sun. It wasn’t so sunny the last time I’d been on that street. Was close to sun-down actually. I remember I had on my school uniform and was riding my bicycle. I was headed to the Ganapati temple at the end of the lane.

I’d gone home expecting awwa to be there as usual, but was told otherwise. She’d been fasting the Sankashti all day and had gone to the temple before breaking the fast. I was flabbergasted! This was the first time in her thirty years she’d done anything close to such a show of religion. Things were seriously out of place. This culture shock was more than I could take. I’d cycled like mad to fetch her before she did more damage. I hadn’t noticed the tears streaming down my face as I’d rushed into the unfamiliar confines of the temple. “The bride had consented, the gallant came late,” from the poem I’d recited from memory at school, ringing in my ears. 

Today, I only noticed the vacant expression on his face. He actually saw through me. He saw through me as he rammed his expensive automobile into me! He looked away into the rear view mirror while he put the car in reverse—but only for a brief second, before he rammed it into me a second time.
I died before I could say, “expensive automobile”.

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