30 minuscule minutes

30 minutes or less

My stomach churned, twisted and grunted shouting and crying against the acid attack it underwent. I looked at my watch 8:48, still more than 30 minutes before I lose my cab. Alone near my cubicle, I hoped my colleagues would come sooner from the cafeteria, so that at least I could marathon back there and get myself a glass of juice. (Our project has to be under surveillance 24*7.) My phone buzzed with some stupid ringtone which I didn’t bother to change anymore. My roomy had called back; sheepishly she asked if I had called before. I replied enquiringly if the dinner was made. The words leaped over her tongue and dragged out of her mouth into the speaker tired of working out all day, “Yar, last night’s veggies were there’. I thanked God I had left some the previous night, albeit for someone to eat, ironically me in the end. Karma, I thought, what you give comes back to you. I said no problem and cut the call.

At 9:06 I had finished with the last minute ritualistic mails and given up my hope for an empty stomach when my colleague sprinted past and signaled me to go. The time didn’t allow but he told me to give a try. I hurried up the aisle, swiped my id at the door and waited near the lift thinking about the juice I was going to have within minutes. During this comprehension with myself I realized I never pressed the up button when a man suddenly came out of the floor door and pressed it. How stupid of me, I thought. I reached the 8th floor, avoiding running into people and dodging them I finally made it to the juice corner.

“1 mixed fruit anna”, I exclaimed and it seemed like ages until I thought he heard me.

Time suddenly started ticking faster. It was 9:15 and the sophisticated juice walas with shower caps covered unnecessarily over their heads didn’t even budge. Finally I heard the mixer buzz. On top of that I pleaded them to hurry else I would miss my cab. The juice came in soft plastic container that went empty inside the dustbin in a matter of seconds.

I rushed down to the area of lifts. It seemed like catching next fast local to Dadar. I boarded one and as it was about to close people poured in. The lift loaded itself and closed the doors when at the last minute a hero put his hand between the two almost-about-to-touch doors.

9:20 and we were still at 8th floor. I thought I will lose my cab for tonight. When the display in the lift changed from ‘8’ to ‘7’ the lift stopped, as if it was angry about being controlled every time. The door opened and the lift announced in a neutral yet sophisticated way that we were going down. The door closed but the same thing got repeated again. I smirked at fate and avoided the urge to look at my watch. It felt as if somebody had sucked the air out of that small movable compartment. I tried holding my breath through a swift pang of panic and relief.

This time a gentleman stepped out and pushed the already closing doors against each other, tighter as though trying to glue them with his bare hands. I saw in half-contemplation of his being stupid and half thoughts concentrated on what others would be thinking about him.

A “What is he doing?!” escaped my lips without a hint of sound. His voice followed saying,” Sometimes it works. The lift doors won’t close properly.” And his un-deterring gaze followed the red digits of the display inside the lift.

The digits miraculously descended from 8 to 7 to 6 and so did the lift. I was amazed whether it was a simple coincidence or an Indian jugaad that everyone knew but no one tried out of possibility of embarrassments.

I smiled and laughed to myself, while the man stood perfectly still, chest out in pride of his newly achieved act of making a lift work manually. Others just mumbled and bumbled. The lift announced my destination as Ground Floor in the most sophisticated way as usual and it ringed in my ears twice before the doors took their own good time to open teasing me with their control over my emotions. I dashed out to the reception area to find no cabs there. They were gone I exclaimed.

“Shit!!”

I hushed slowly and turned left when something caught my eye. The cabs were standing near the glass door that was on the left today unlike all other days.

Relief filled in the vessel of my heart while my mind told me to be early the next time.

lift

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