The Sea Beckons 5 – Slum Girl

[ Velan was an unmarried 37 year old guy. He was unmarried because he had BPD, a condition which led to episodes of insanity for him. At other times he was normal and extremely intelligent. He had a brother Vishnu and a business partner of the family Sridhar. They were in the process of setting up a restaurant for Velan]

It was a Monday and there were very few people on the beach. Velan was sitting alone facing the sea. He wasn’t an ardent admirer of nature yet the sea always seemed to beckon him and he heeded the call at times. Far ahead in the distance a girl in a blue jean and white T – shirt was sitting alone just like him. She was facing the sea and Velan couldn’t discern the features of her face.

A kid selling groundnuts came up to him. Velan bought some groundnuts from him.

“Why are you here alone?” asked the boy.

“Why you must have seen many like me come alone here?” asked Velan.

“Not really, mostly couples and families come here or some come with friends?”

“There is a girl over there alone don’t you see her?”

“Oh, I know her. She is different. Want me to introduce her to you?”

Velan laughed at this and said, “You seem mature for your age. Are you studying?”

“Yes, I am in 8th grade and sell groundnuts only in the evening. Okay I’ll take care of business and see you around if you are still here,” said the boy and left.

Velan sat idly for some time staring at the beach. Then he took a cigarette and tried to light it with a match box. But the breeze was heavy and he wasted almost half of the matchbox trying to light up the cigarette. Velan was so busy doing this that he didn’t see the person hovering near.

“Give me the match box,” said the girl and sat near him.

Velan looked at the beautiful fair girl in the white T – shirt and blue jeans with astonishment. He gave her the match box. The girl deftly lighted a match and cupped her hands holding the light for Velan to light up. Velan lit it and dragged heavily on the cigarette and exhaled in joy and relief.

“How come…,” Velan started but was cut off by her.

“The kid selling groundnuts told me that you were sitting here all alone and depressed. I came to see if I could cheer you up.”

Velan smiled at this and asked “How did you light up the match?”

“I smoke here a lot that I am used to it.”

After a few puffs Velan offered the cigarette to her. Both Velan and the girl sat silently sharing the cigarette and staring at the ocean.

After a while Velan said, “I am Velan. A restaurant is being set up for me and it will start shortly. I live in Rajiv Nagar.”

“I am Mercy,” said the girl and cocking her head at Velan added, “I live here in the slum on that side of the beach.”

Velan asked in surprise, “But the jeans and T – shirt?”

“Why what made you think that slum dwellers can’t dress like this?”

“Oh sorry, do you study?”

“My studies are over I work in Diamond flowers, the artificial flower export company.”

That made sense to Velan for daily wage labourers, mostly girls with little to no schooling worked there.

“So you have studied till what grade in school?”

Mercy laughed at this and said, “What arrogant thinking? I’ve completed M.A English literature and am an assistant manager, customer relations, at Diamond flowers. I am simultaneously doing my Phd.”

“Then why do you still live in the slums?”

“It is my home. Moreover I got the job recently and am planning to shift with my parents and brother to a different proper rented house. My home is here therefore I loiter here but why have you come here?”

“I am mostly alone. I have only a couple of friends in this town. They too get busy with their families. Being single I don’t have anywhere to go. The sea calls me to come here at times.”

It grew dark. It was time for the girl to head back home. They both exchanged phone numbers and went in their separate ways.

The Sea Beckons 6 – Blogging girl

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