‘I can’t live like this…’
Melanie’s voice cracked as she spoke to her friend, Nisha. It was 1 AM Indian standard time, daytime in the US, where Mel lived. Nisha was half asleep, struggling to keep her eyes open.
‘There there…what’s the problem?’ Nisha suppressed one of her many sighs as she anticipated half an hour of wailing to continue. She was right.
‘I had to leave my bungalow and shift into an apartment complex! AN APARTMENT COMPLEX. I feel so suffocated, I open a window and there are no green spaces…just buildings all around me. I live in a concrete jungle!’
Noreen rolled her eyes. Concrete jungle, AKA the most expensive apartment complex in that city.
Noreen felt a drop of water land on her forehead. She squinted, searching for her glasses in the dim, flickering yellow light. The only light that worked in her bedroom.
‘Damn!’ she muttered, ignoring Melanie’s rants but supporting them with occasional hmms and mmms…the roof was leaking again. The sad part of living on the top floor in Mumbai during the monsoon. But it was the only flat that she got. Single people, especially single women didn’t have much of a choice, if you were lucky enough to get a house in a decent locality, you’d better take it, leaky roof or not.
‘And my maid didn’t come yesterday! I had to wash all the dishes myself and ANDREW wanted me to cook! Can you believe it? He thinks we don’t need a maid, we should cook ourselves? I’ve never had to enter the kitchen in my entire life.’
‘Can’t you hire a part time maid for the days she doesn’t come?’ Nisha muttered absent mindedly.
Melanie pretended not to have heard her ,’AND so I cooked, I almost cut my finger and chipped my nails washing the dishes, now i’ll have to go for a pedicure all over again, its such a drag!!’
Nisha looked at her own hands. Nails? What nails? She had given up the idea of growing them out. She had soft, tiny hands, almost like a child’s. By some miracle all the cooking, washing and cleaning hadn’t wrecked any damage on them yet. But there wasn’t anything attractive about them. Her nails were as short as short could be. She filed them at home. Dishing out a grand for a pedicure which wouldn’t even last a day didn’t make sense to her.
‘I also have to walk six blocks before i reach the parking! I mean, can you imagine walking for six blocks on stilettos? My feet had so many blisters. I’m soaking them in hot water as we speak!’
Nisha smothered a chuckle. Stilettos were out of the question for her as well. Barring a few special occasions, she wore flat shoes, sensible shoes like her mother called it, to work. Comfort over style. Plus one really couldn’t walk on the street in stilettos. The potholes would kill them. Did she mention she walked to her office? It was a ten minute walk and she enjoyed it.
‘Why don’t you wear flats till you reach the parking?’
There was a pause then Melanie laughed loudly, ‘ Hey girl that’s a great idea I don’t own any flat shoes but it will be a good chance for me to go shopping and relieve myself of all of this stress!’
Nisha suppressed another snort and muttered some non – commital words of encouragement, as she endured another couple of minutes of wailing about the traffic, lack of space in Mel’s five bedroom apartment, the fact that they had only three bathrooms instead of five, that they had bay windows in only four rooms…that….
She was relieved when the conversation ended. She never had been able to understand Melanie. She had it all. A great house, a good, rich husband, a great job…she was living the American dream but she was always unhappy.
She looked around her one bedroom house a bit sheepishly. She had one cupboard, which housed all of her clothes, shoes and jewelry. A smaller closet had some linen. The kitchen was well stocked for one person.
There was a sofa, a desk with a chair, a lamp and a bean bag if anyone came to visit. She had a bunk bed, of which the spare bunk was seldom used unless a friend came over.
The house wasn’t great. She’d had to get all the electric points fixed when she’d moved in, along with fixing the plumbing. She had a maid who cleaned for her three times a week. But she was content. Material things didn’t really matter to her. They never had.
It really was a matter of perspective. You could have it all…and still feel unlucky. Or you could have nothing and be grateful for the little you had.
She chose the latter. Her eyes closed and she immediately fell into a deep sleep, her tired body giving in to sleep’s sweet call. She didn’t notice that Melanie was calling again, this time to complain about something else no doubt.