Waiting To Exhale

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Fictional stories
Tags: , ,

 
FICTION

Janet walked down 5th Avenue, NY, jostling with the crowd of office-goers, the regular pedestrians and tourists. Life around her seemed like a fast-paced Brownian movement of people. People were rushing around in their infinite quest for bettering their lives, people leading their everyday life, people just hanging out watching the crowd and the awe-struck tourists glancing heavenward at the tall sky-scrapers.

 Everybody’s lives running parallel never converging, like endless stretches of train tracks.
Her high-heeled shoes clicking on the sidewalk was drowned out by the everyday noises. The screeching alarms of the fire truck mingling with the ambulance wails. The yellow cabs were hurtling down the one-way avenues trying to reach their destinations faster than the ambulances. Well-dressed business people and nattily dressed, in-vogue girls danced around daintily avoiding being stepped on, in the crowd. Homeless people sat around reclining on the sidewalk benches looking dis-passionately at the milling crowd. Life for them was anything but a fast track.  

 Janet found herself in the little Greek café overlooking the busy street next to the Rockefellers building. The business meeting had gone on for ever, long enough to get her mind wandering all over the globe. She had idly glanced around watching her co-workers and the CFO discussing at great lengths the slides she had put together for her presentation. The projections, graphs and statistics zoomed in and out of her vision along with her drifting mind. She was almost nauseated towards the end of the meeting. She wanted to run as fast as she could and breathe. She dreaded the onset of the panic attacks she was lately having.  

  
Stretching her legs under the table of the outdoor café, she breathed in big gulps of air and tried to relax her stiff muscles. A couple of sips of her favorite mocha and a peaceful sensation drifted over her. She looked around her and noticed several young couples leisurely walking around holding hands and whispering sweet nothings to each other. There was a time she had also gone through those very same motions, with stars in her eyes and a spring in her step. Those were the days she had thrown her head back and laughed with joyous abandon.

 Mark was everything in the world for her. He was a smart, sensitive and an attentive man. They were so much in love. Life then was a roller-coaster for them. She used to look forward to meeting up with him after work in the evenings, at the corner of 5th and 50th street. They took the subway home together. He was always waiting at the street corner with a bear hug and a warm kiss which brought on a radiant smile on her face, no matter how lousy the day at work was.  

That was 4 years back and time didn’t really heal anything for her since then. On the fateful day of September 11th, like every other worker on the TwinTowers he had gone to work early, hoping to take off early so they could go to dinner that night. She had heard the sirens of the fire-trucks, had watched the news reports with the flames and smoke bursting out of the twin towers. It had looked surreal then. Along with the buildings she knew her world had collapsed on her.

Janet had tried everything from talking to shrinks, to yoga, and a month long vacation. A part of her seemed to have become permanently encased in sorrow. She had tried unsuccessfully to date other men and get her life back on track. She was only 32 but felt as if she was older, with all the burden of her grief. Every time she came close to someone, she found herself building walls around her in a defensive mode. She couldn’t stop herself, from running away from her pain. She thought if she ignored it long enough, it would go away eventually.    

 Janet couldn’t do it anymore. Her migraines had worsened and she tried spending long hours at work shutting herself in, but realized she was becoming a classic basket-case. The towering sky-scrapers loomed above her in a frightening silence. She wanted to run away from it all, somewhere, where she could feel the pain, share her sorrows and reach out. As she sipped her coffee, an idea blossomed and she caught herself smiling. Immensely relieved and ecstatic she hurriedly gulped her coffee and rushed back to her office. She muttered to herself over and over again as to why she did not think of it earlier. Suddenly her life seemed to have a purpose. She felt that this was exactly what she needed to do, to shake herself out of the little bubble she had created for herself.
She registered online at the Bill and Melinda Foundation as a volunteer for the ongoing Global Volunteer Network and hurriedly e-mailed her boss that she was going on a vacation for a couple of months. She found herself cleaning her desk and packing with a nervous anticipation, akin to going on a first date. The volunteer job called for her arrival at Chennai, India a week earlier to prepare for the orientation and training. The work revolved around rebuilding and rehabilitating the Tsunami disaster victims.

Janet didn’t care if she had a job when she came back after her vacation. She didn’t know if all of this would help her get her life in the groove again, she just felt that this was the best thing to do for now. She felt alive just thinking about the task that lay ahead of her. All the love she had locked out of her soul seemed to be brimming. She wanted to share it all. There were people who needed her. She walked out into the sun humming a tune.

“I’ll see you in a while, New York,” she thought aloud, hailing a taxicab …

 
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Comments
  1. Serenely Rapt says:

    This was a lovely story Suja… so glad I subscribe to your blog else I might have missed this. :D

    Great going…

    Dagny

  2. Rajavel says:

    Nice. But looked like some what reverse engineered and sudden. Yet the drama of Ny streets was nicely created

  3. Dagny happy to see you here and for the encouragement too.. Wrote this years back :)

  4. Raja thank you and aptly said. It is a bit sudden, thought I will cut it short instead of dragging it along.