Saturday 20 February 2016

Prose 500 2016 Longlist Gitanjali Maria

Breaking Off

She stared hard at the monitor. There were half-done bar charts and coloured tables on the Power Point presentation that lay open on her screen. She blinked her eyes many times and shook her head to get back the concentration and the out-of-the-box ideas needed to get her through this PPT. Her boss needed it for the lunch meeting with a U.S. based client prospect. But her brain seemed to have given up working on this stuff and was instead fixated on the envelope inside her red embroidered cloth bag.

Hey, Ramya! What’s up? What happened? You look so blank
It was Adi, her colleague who sat at the next seat. He peered into her screen and saw the half-done PPT and exclaimed, “I thought it was to be done in an hour’s time! Do you need some help?
Please, if you have time”, she said.

And together they managed to send off the PPT by noon. But somewhere her brain seemed jammed today. There was not the fountainhead of ideas, the spontaneity of jokes and the enthusiasm of the challenge. It all seemed to be the boring, mundane tasks. Not that it was the first time she was feeling so, but she had been able to fight it off every time. Then again with the opportunity very close and at her very doorstep, she was not sure whether she wanted to invite it in or just slam the door and live like she was doing now?

What is your opinion, Ma”, she had asked her mother.
I understand it’s what you want to do. But…will it fetch you the same salary as of now? And what about marriage prospects? Now a days, girls also need to have a good salary to get qualified grooms.

Her mother’s acceptance of understanding was always followed by ifs and buts. She often wondered whether she should just remove the ‘ifs and buts’ from her mother’s statement and simply make use of the first part.
At lunch, she asked her friend and confidant, Mayanka.
What do you think I should do?
Hmmm…evaluate all the options that you have, using every criteria. Assign them weights and score them. Pick out the one that has the highest score. Do give high scores to financial impact and status in society but you should follow your heart too.”

Quite perplexing, she thought.
But she learnt one thing; that some decisions need to be taken by her and by her alone. Nobody would tell her what decision that is to be but only give random opinion since she alone would have to face the consequences.
That evening, on the way back home, she took out the envelope from her red bag and dropped it in the post box. It was addressed to ‘Teach for India’, accepting her selection for volunteering at a school in Orissa.

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