Sumi balanced herself on the footstool,her face hidden behind the curtains, lest she be visible to the girl gang outside.She sighed as she saw them displaying their flairy,flowing outfits. It was five in the evening and the girls had gathered for a session of teen gossiping. Sadly, Sumi was not a part of them.
She did not fit into the “hep” terminology of teens-with her oily hair composed in plaits, her shoes showing no signs of elevation,her lips way away from being glossy,her skirt touching her ankles and then her undemanding and straighforward orientation-all these just diminished her chances of being a part of that group.When those teens swayed to the rhythm of Salsa,she learned the mudras of Bharatnatyam.When they huddled for burgers at Mc Donalds, Sumi’s only source of entertainment was the inevitable Doordarshan.
Monetary or for other reasons,she never catched up with her teenage community. The only days when she would be seen hand in hand with the members of the girl gang was when exams were creeping forward,sending chills down their spines to beg help from Sumi. On other days,they would not even acknowledge her customary call.
Sumi got down from the footstool. She was tired. The last two days of the week which were eagerly awaited were consumed by the labourers who came to fix the communication device. After all the cleaning and mopping,Sumi’s back refused to calm down-it pained badly.
Monday morning dawned to find Sumi down with fever.
However she bundled herself up to face the Unit test.It was seven in the morning when she stepped out and Chitra aunty called out to her.She felt she heard three other calls.
She looked up at Chitra aunty standing in the balcony.
“Congratulation!!!Sumi”said Chitra Aunty. “I saw the workers.”she said.
Mrs Khanna and Mrs Chaudhary from the other block wished her as well,though usually they address her as Madrasan in their whispering tones.
Sumi hurried towards the her bus stop,to find three members of the girl gang standing there and smiling at her.
“Oh!Sumi they said,so you have left us all behind.You are the heppest of our lot,ain’t you?” and they hugged her.We would love to be friends with you.
At school,her class teacher congratulated her.
Sumi’s fever titptoed to a corner,as the day passed.Wishes had arrived enmasse.
All this for the telephone installed Sumi thought?The telephone connection at our home is the breaking news today,she told mother when she got back home.The one good news is that I am in the girl gang now.
“Yes,my dear child,the neighbourhood is happy and proud for the lone telephone connection it has.”Mother said.
The little red and white communicator had ripped into headlines.
She hard her mother open the door to Mrs Chaudhary.She wanted to make a call to her distant relative.