Read Part 1 of the post here.
Aashna had had an exhaustively long but one of the best days. She was drained by the time she was done, and as much as she wanted to reach the welcoming comforts of her four-walled zone, Sir Murphy couldn’t have timed his appearance more accurately. The tediousness of the day had continued to stretch that evening with a similarly, if not equally, dreary journey back home. Moreover, the skies had gone crazy with the rains. Aashna was soaked to the skin by the time she arrived at her residence. She tipped the cabbie generously for he had been considerate enough to drive her safely, especially at a time when other modes of public transport had turned their heads away so effortlessly from this not-so-remote suburb. As her hand rested on top of her head in an attempt to shield from the oncoming rains – an almost vain effort – while the other held onto her suede handbag, Aashna bent into the window to thank the driver.
Despite the noisy background score of the splitter splatter from the earth-kissing waters, Aashna’s pumps made sporadic clicking noises as she walked into the building and climbed the steps up to the first floor. She was scared of sprinting lest the rainwater took her down! The building was engulfed in darkness. Clearly, there was no electricity; the area’s Electricity Board had cut off the power supply fearing any cases of bursting transponders and/or short circuits. It is going to be another dark night, thought Aashna to herself; however, it was a night she looked forward to, for it was her favourite kinds.
As she settled onto the couch with a lit candle by her side and a comfort-sized bowl of blazing hot tomato soup seasoned with salt and copious amounts of pepper and butter, Aashna’s mind reeled back to replay that morning’s course of events. It was about a month ago when Aashna had received the call. Apparently, a personality whose existence she wasn’t even aware of until then, yet a prominent someone to give Aashna her so-called break had displayed an interest in her. Aashna eventually discovered they had located her after a considerable amount of search. They had contacted her from the details displayed on the ‘Wish to Get in Touch?’ section of her web space. An email, a missed call, a call back, a calendar overlap, and few more follow-up calls later, Aashna met them that very morning.
The meeting had gone quite well, thought Aashna as she continued to retrospect, while subconsciously staring through the three-piece that now lay neatly on the seat across the couch, the rudimentary rainwater dripping onto the floor – a solid navy blue single breasted blazer, a matching knee-length skirt pinstriped with a contrasting grey, and a platinum-coloured full-sleeved shirt. As she dunked her spoon to take a mouthful of the steaming soup, Aashna realised one of the reasons she felt confident about today’s meeting was merited to the fact of requesting a follow-up meeting with her tomorrow. The deal was on, provided she promised to meet them with her portfolio this time.
Whether it was the crashing sound of the ceramic bowl, the clanging noise of the soup spoon marrying the floor, or the glaring rays that shone across her face, Aashna could not pinpoint the factor that had caused her awakening (pun unintended). Still groggy, she struggled to redeem herself from the awkward position she was lying in. Her torso, hands, and legs ached slightly from the crooked twists she had put herself through, although almost unconsciously. As she came around, Aashna realised her legs had curled up into a ball and were one on top of the other, and her hands were bent like an angle bisector, the forearm of one resting above her forehead, while the other pressed tightly against her side. Aashna stretched in pursuit of sitting up; in the process, the soreness from her body revived. It took her a minute to feel ‘normal’ and propel her legs to the floor.
After summoning and trashing the broken pieces of the ceramic bowl, depositing the soup spoon into the washing sink, and confirming the absence of any glass pieces by means of a broom – minuscule or otherwise – Aashna tied her hip-length tresses into a bun, and pushed herself into the shower lest she got late for her appointment.
Aashna buttoned up her puffed, half-sleeved, lavender-striped shirt and ran a comb through her ever-knotty, yet soft and dense mop. She decided to leave her hair open, as her hosts were going to be more interested in her works today. She slung the suede handbag across her shoulder, and checked herself in the mirror on her way out. Her feet snuck in a pair of slate grey ballerinas to go with her bleached jeans. Aashna checked her watch and was pleased at having given herself plenty of time to dispose. She anyway had to make a short detour to her workplace, located at the end of the road to pick up her works.
Aashna lifted the cream-coloured shutter of her office and fished out the key from her bag to undo the lock on the door. She switched on the lights of her office and glanced around. Yesterday’s rains hadn’t affected this place all right. The space was intact. Just the way she had last left it. Aashna trudged around with caution, unwilling to knock anything off from its rightful place, and approached what seemed to be the room’s centre. A high window towards the right reflected the sun rays around this spot. In front of her eyes lay Aashna’s latest creation. With almost a caressing caution, Aashna lifted the veil and basked in the glory of her work.
It had dried. And well. The knife work was intricate. The textures shone through gradually and distinctively, not unlike the fresh cream piped onto a just-out-of-the-oven cake. One of the immediate idiosyncrasies ushered to the naked eye was the vivid red – a shade of blood that not only stood out, but also dominated a large part of the evocative picturesque. Aashna stood rooted to the spot with widened eyes as she grasped the magnitude of what her weeks’ worth of efforts had transpired into. The exclusive sessions on palette knife and knife painting had certainly come in handy while she had worked on this specific piece of art. She extracted the work from the canvas that was fixated at her eye level and inserted it carefully into her art folder. Irrespective of the feedback, Aashna wanted to show this piece to her hosts. She inserted five other pieces of oil pastels into the folder, the ones that were handpicked after considerate deliberation, locked her studio and trod off for her appointment.
As she strode on, Aashna’s mind went into a flashback once more to relay the streak of thoughts she had been through when she had worked with the palette and painting knives initially.
The cherry red body-con … The black peep toes … The cobalt blue umbrella … The terra cotta-stained lips … A rapidly flickering streetlight … All in the pesky rains … Who was it? Rather, what was it? Was the item that she waited for of precious importance? Or, was it a friend or a foe? She was the lone source who could have reclaimed the bystanders with an answer.