Miss H stopped to ponder.
A casual onlooker might ask why she had to stop to ponder. But since a casual onlooker has no idea of Miss H’s mental faculties, we will disregard this question. Miss H could do only one thing at a time, at times she even managed to do it well. This was not one of those times.
She was thinking about important matters, and she was not doing a very good job at it. About the thinking, that is.
A casual onlooker (c-o henceforth) might observe the words ‘important’ and ‘job’ and infer that she was thinking about doing something important in her work. We will bestow a sympathetic smile at the casual onlooker’s naiveté, and proceed to look at why Miss H stopped to ponder and what thought she was pandering to. Miss H had had a lot of unsettling stuff the day before. What she had read caused a flood of emotions. (What she had eaten had caused a flood of motions, but we will spare ourselves the agony of describing this) Thoughts had been raining down in Miss H’s head, and since her habitual lethargy had so far prevented her from doing anything about this, they formed puddles in her brain (the c-o would remark – that’s where the phrase “she’s got water in her brain!” originated) and streamed down her face. These were not tears of sorrow.
And contrary to what Hindi films portray, they were not tears of joy either.
They were simply a reaction to her staring intently at her screen for a long time, which is what she had been doing before she stopped to think.
The cause for her rumination was this. She had been thinking about what the author would get her for her birthday.
Fear not, dear reader, we shall leave aside the fact that this author already had plans for her, take a deep breath and plunge into the flood waters. Of emotion, in case the deep breath had you thinking otherwise. Like a log of wood that bobs up no matter how heavy the floods, the thought that kept surfacing in her head was – What will it be? A more considerate author would have put her out of her misery by presenting her with her gift, but even genuinely nice guys occasionally have a sadistic streak in them, so we shall defer the moment of reckoning and sail along what she thought. Miss H was a sound thinker, and like all sound thinkers she believed in laying the foundation before building the top stories. She knew she had to first get to the bottom of things. If only she knew where it was.
Like a streak of lightning, a rare thought of wisdom flashed across her tired brain, emblazoning the words ‘Ask ‘ in big fonts. Miss H had asked for it, and now she had to ask herself some questions. ‘Will he evade giving a gift this time too like the pending rakhi gift?’
The first question pulled up the others. The questions were weighty, and the tenuous thread of sanity was stretched to almost breaking point getting them out of her brain’s nether lands.
‘What if he says that his putting in the effort to write this is a gift in itself? I cannot debate that… ’
‘What if he gets something and says it is a combined gift for rakhi and my birthday?’
Dark clouds of doubt gathered and cast deep shadows on her flood waters. ‘What is he going to do?’
Miss H had reached the bottom of her stack of doubts, but she could pop up no answers.
But for all her confusion, Miss H was also a practical lady. She thought about her flood of emotions. ‘Dam it!’ she felt. If our c-o were around, he would have seen her march resolutely to the washroom, splash some water on her face, and march resolutely back with a glint in her eye, not visible to the c-o because of the glint of her spectacles, refreshed at having taking action. Seeing her return to her seat and read the author’s jibes, and let out a few audible gasps at the liberties taken (Hunh! – he may hear), the c-o would assume that she is trying to blow away the clouds of doubt, and would assume that she is tidying up the landscape in her head after the floods. We will bid the c-o a stern goodbye, and rue the fact that he could never ever learn about Miss H’s mental makeup.
Knowing Miss H far better, we will prepare ourselves for her usual brusqueness at dealing with non-work related issues. And gracefully exit the stream of events. ‘Enough of time pass,’ she thought. ‘I’ll pester him tomorrow. I’ll get back to work now!’
And she stared at her screen again….