“May I have a cup of tea?” he asked sans any reluctance.
“Sure,” Maira answered, flashing a surprised look, as she proceeded towards the kitchen.
He sat alone in the living room, while she brewed tea, a strange feeling engulfing her.
“Hello,” he’d greeted, as she opened the door to him. “I am Mr. Mehta’s friend, from flat 210. I came nearby and decided to quickly visit them, but they’ve gone out. I tried to call but he’s unreachable.”
Mrs. Mehta was Maira’s good friend.
“Oh Yes! They are out shopping and might be back in 30 minutes.”
“Oh!” he exclaimed, a small disappointment flashing across his face, instantly replaced by a doubtful expectation.
“If you don’t mind, can I please wait here? I have really come from far and it’s been a long time since I’ve met him.”
“Oh yes, please come in.” She was alone in the house, with her husband visiting his parents.
“Nice house,” he commented, looking around, as he sat on the plush sofa set.
“Thank you,” she smiled, placing a glass of water on the table.
“May I know where your husband is working?”
“He’s an engineer. He owns a consultancy business.”
“Oh!” my co-brother is also an engineer,” he supplied, smilingly.
She smiled back. It was then, he requested for tea.
A while later, she placed a cup of tea, along with a plate of creamy biscuits.
“Thank you,” he smiled. “Now that everyone is doing engineering, this field is fast losing value. Engineering graduates migrate abroad only to end up with low paid, contractual jobs, without security, often getting fired without notice.” he said munching over a biscuit, followed by a sip of tea.
“Delicious tea. Thanks again.” She forced a smile.
“My co-brother left his job to open his consultancy,” he continued, “but is now regretting his decision. What about your husband? Is he faring well?”
Although slightly irritated, she marvelled at his cheek, while mulling over a reply. In the end, she decided to tolerate him for the sake of her friends, the Mehta’s.
“Oh yes, by god’s grace he’s doing well,” she replied, trying to shut him up.
“Looking at the situation, I’ve told my son to avoid engineering and try for the medical field instead,” he continued blasely.
By now, as she found herself checking a mild anger at his derogatory remarks and was about to retort something, his phone rang.
“It’s Mr. Mehta,” he told her smilingly, as he picked up the call.
“Hello Zubin, how are you? Long-time indeed.”
‘Zubin? isn’t it Ashish?’ she wondered.
“Yes, I am waiting for you at your neighbour’s place. Flat no. 211. What! You don’t stay here anymore? When did you move? Four years ago?” He now looked at her with a slight apprehension. “I’ll get going then. We’ll meet sometime, yeah? Ok. Bye.”
“I am really sorry for the mistake,” he stammered at her, embarrassed, making sure his exit was quick, while she stood glaring at him, all along.
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