Notion Press Malaysia Short Story Contest 2017

Me and Her

By Navadharini Sunder in True Story

With doubt all over my face, “Do I look nice in this dress?” I ask. She frowns and the creases on her forehead makes her look funny. “You look fat! Have u thought of liposuction?” I feel like my world is shattered to pieces and the tick-tock of my room clock seems deafening. Time is running out for my date and I am yet to find a dress that fits me and satisfies her too.

To make things simpler, I wear my pants and a flowery blouse which covers all the necessary bulges. I don’t ask a word and wait for her comment in trepidation. She gives a weak smile and says, “Yeah, you don’t have much time. This looks like a safe bet. Quickly put some make-up on, will you?”

Despite my brave front and safe attire, the date was still a flop indeed. She says with full of confidence, “I am so sure he lied his travel track records…who can travel to ALL those countries. Such a showoff!” I didn’t feel like defending him that he traveled for work too. It just seemed futile trying to make her understand when she is fixed that he is lying. And this is nothing new to me too, feeling bad about myself and sulking after a disaster date. Sometimes it feels like my life goes on a creepy rewind-stop-play mode especially my dates.

With a smile plastered on my face the next morning, I am determined to make Monday blues vanish into thin air. I greet my receptionist and smile at the security personnel. When I reached my office cubicle, I feel a surge of positive energy. Here she comes and says, “Someone is looking very bright and sunny today, huh?” I faked a smile so wide and replied, “It’s a beautiful day and indeed I am bright and sunny to make the best of it.” I am not sure if it was a sarcastic snide or an amused expression but I was surprised to hear her say, “Well then, this calls for a celebration indeed. You seem to be in fake-it-till-you-make-it mindset.” And she evaporated.

And it turned out to be a good day after all, my boss appreciated my efforts in the meeting and I was selected for the business conference end of the month. My close friend called me out for lunch after almost 6 months and we had a great time reminiscing our childhood memories. As always Lucky was waiting eagerly to play with me when I got home and I took him out for a walk. The breeze was chilly and a sudden sense of gratitude quivered throughout my body. I actually live in a safe neighbourhood with lovely people who smile and gather for all festivals to indulge in food and fun. I realize how green it is to the extent of seeming like each house is competing with the neighbours to have the best garden.

I almost jump out of my skin when she says, “Did you see that squirrel? So small and cute it was.” It feels good to hear her say things like that. Normal and nice. I say in a rising rhythm, “It was a nice day today you know. I do feel like celebrating. Would you like to join me for dinner? Pesto spaghetti with pumpkin soup and mashed potato.” She nods and I conclude happily that it is more than a nice day.

As I made it a practice to say my prayers before meals and reflect the good moments at the end of the day, my days become enjoyable and I find people tolerable. I treasure simple ways of life and appreciate the little things however minute they seem. She seemed softer and started saying inspiring things to keep me positive. I have not seen that side of her at all and this new revelation makes me like her even more.

At work, I start my day with “Today is the best day of my life” and when I face hurdles, I hurl “Even this will pass” and march on. I notice she laughs more these days, it could be that she is laughing hard at me but nevertheless it has a nice ring to it and it doesn’t offend me. Even on rainy days, I make myself a mug of hot chocolate and grab a book to read. She joins me and assassinates the characters of the novel cruelly. I laugh at her witty comments and realize that any day can be a good day if I choose it to be so.

It does feel like my life is taking turns as the season. From the chilly winter when I was gloomy and down, I blossomed into someone positive and happy like spring. With so much action and energy, I will speed through summer in full speed until autumn slows me down to contemplation. I introspect and retreat to think. Back again to winter I realize that I have lots to learn, change, implement and improve. But instead of being gloomy I began to rest and enjoy family time especially on Christmas and New Year.

She brings me a lovely gift on Christmas Eve and I look bewildered. She says sweetly, ‘It’s been quite a year, don’t you think so?” I nod my head as I look eagerly at my present. She knows I want to know what it is. When I quickly unwrap it and I find a colourful album, I say out loud, “An album? Does it have photos in it?” I open it and see the whole year unfold in pictures right in front of my eyes.

My days of crying and sulking and also arguing and fighting. I wonder when these pictures were taken and by whom. Slowly the photos take a change and I see more of me smiling. With family and with friends. At work and at home. Moments captured beautifully as I have fun in beach, laugh and be at peace with myself. It was really beautiful and I felt so happy, blessed and grateful.

I turn to see her and she evaporates slowly with a smile so shiny. That’s when it dawns on me that this gift is a collection and reflection on my life when I chose joy, peace and love. If I chose love, she was love. When I was negative, she was grumpy. Because I am her and she is me. We reflect each other. I am who I choose to be.

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