It was one of those days of monotony that Maureen had to spend. Sitting outside the office cabin of her boss, answering the ever- ringing phones, charting out schedules for his day, making arrangements for client meetings and lunch calls and such other things a secretary is paid to do. It was the eve of her first year of wedding anniversary and also the day when she is about to get paid for the month long mixed bag of work she had executed so perfectly.
But her boss was quite rigid and insensitive. He never got to recognize the quality with which she executed her work. Long past eight, she returned home with her wallet full of fresh cash and a huge box of assorted gifts for her husband, whom she had been yearning to see. She had already missed the lunch date for that day, they had planned the previous day, because of her ever-complaining boss. As she walked into the hall, she saw the telly set blaring with stomach stirring screeches and the couch littered with dried cereal and a bouquet of roses which were almost dry lying on the carpeted floor.
As she rushed into their bedroom to look what had become of him, she saw him slumped on the two poster bed, buried into his pillow in loud snores and sound sleep. As she gently sat beside him, huge drops of tears wet her cheeks and there was a rush of sad emotions and fear in her heart. Things hadn’t been the same with them for the past two months. It had been 3 years since Maureen had fell in love with the guy with his olive green pair of eyes that had made her melt into the pool of dreams.
At George Town, where Maureen had done her high school, it was the last of nights she was going to spend there at home. Her mum and dad had been very proud that she had earned a scholarship for an under-graduation course in business and finance in one of the esteemed universities in New York. Maureen had always been a promising student and a cheerful teenager when seen among her class mates. She had always earnt good grades and good name at school.
That night, she couldn’t sleep out of sheer excitement about the tomorrow which had been holding endless joy and hopes of experience. She was floating into a world of dreams with her eyes wide open. She longed for the dawn to break and to board the plane that will take her to the land of opportunities, the land of hopes and the land where she is going to receive her future merits to establish herself as a “somebody” in this competitive world.
Very soon the dawn broke, Maureen flew to her land that was a dream in the yester. Days…months passed when Maureen grew used to the crowded city and its indifferent residents who hardly glanced at anybody, but in their own string of thoughts about the past and the morrow. Her classes and academics were as fine as they were when she was in school but Maureen had made very less friends at college and at her four shared apartment.
“The land of opportunities”, Maureen whispered to herself. At her tiny whisper, he stirred a little only to roll to the other side and slumber. She wiped her tears; shed the formal attire she was squeezed into and into the most comfortable pajamas. She lay down beside him to get to the world of dreams, this time with her eyes shut! Maureen could put her to sleep in vain. Thoughts about the past kept flooding into her mind and tears kept reddening her eyes and wetting the white pillow.
Just to avoid being surrounded by the pangs of the past, Maureen ascended the stairs to the blaring telly in the spacious hall and the couch, now occupied by the huge wrapped box she had brought home. She laid the box aside and slouched onto the leather- cushioned couch, remote controlled the telly which now casted another channel with a pleasant teenage song which she had long forgotten.
A slight positive curve spread onto her face and the song spread a little warmth in her heart. At the end of the song, to make herself feel more warm, she rushed to the kitchen to grab some hot caffeine which will keep her awake for the night, so that she could finish her work for the next day at home the previous night and take an off.
She started dreaming again, where after mailing the next day’s schedule to her boss, she could ask him for a day off and spend some time with her husband so that she could fill the gap that had been deepening between them for the past two months. She hoped she could surprise him the next morning with home-made sushi; they could travel in the world of memories when riding on the black hulk bike that he was so fond of at college. “We could even do a bit of tap-dancing after the old favorites have been played in the stereo. And we have to talk!” she wondered loudly to herself.
She hadn’t hoped that a mere song could lighten up things so easily. She beamed with hope and started to type plans for her boss for the next day into the mail draft. She verified her boss’s appointments and lunch calls and started charting them into schedules and mailed out replies for the mails of clients which she had planned to do, the next day. By the time she had done with the work, it was almost 2:00 A.M. She drifted off to sleep, with her laptop in hibernate mode and the telly casting its glow onto her weary face.
It was snowing heavily like the typical winter in Chicago. But, this was New York, the city where its residents hover around quite busily, whose minds have been preoccupied and hearts were cold as ice, she thought. Luckily, the heavy snow which had almost coated everything in sight had curbed the ever-hovering crowd. Perhaps, most of them had abstained indoors to shop online or to watch a movie and spend this freezing day.
There were a few kids in the streets who had decided to give the slip to their mothers in order to participate in a self-hosted match of snow balling the other kids, generally weaker than them. Very rarely, she could see one or two shops kept open showcasing their pretty dresses, tasty food, fur coats and shimmering pieces of jewellery. Maureen grabbed a take away cup of hot drinking chocolate and waded through the snowy pavement towards her university library.
She had decided that she had to go to the library, in spite of the day being a holiday, in order to complete her projects in time. Moreover she preferred the library which was neat, cozy and silent when compared to her apartment which had become like a garbage dump due to her room mates’ unwise habits. As she marched steadily through the gates of the university, she handed over her student pass to the security for verification. Well, at least she presumed so! She was so absent minded to not notice that the person to whom she had handed over the pass was not in the usual security attire.
Please read Chapter 2