Sheila could not sleep. She turned this way and that in bed. Her husband was working on his computer as usual to meet yet another deadline.
Life is about meeting deadlines these days, she thought as she turned yet again letting the bed sheet fall off her body. She could never sleep without a bed sheet on her body, however hot the weather might be.
Has little Robin’s angst entered my body like a ghost? Sheila wondered. Robin was a student of hers in class 4. Sheila was a teacher in a residential school. Robin, one of her students, had lost his usual cheer and grace in the last few days.
“What happened to you, young man?” Sheila confronted Robin in the hostel before his bedtime. The little boy wouldn’t speak. He began to sob instead.
“Come on, tell me, what’s the problem. I assure you of a solution whatever the problem.”
It took much cajoling and more tenderness to get words through Robin’s sobs. “They not believe, Ma’m... Dad has a BMW, I say them. They make fun...”
“So you want to prove to your friends that your dad has a BMW, is that all?”
“He has, Ma’m. You also not believe?”
“I know, dear. I know that your dad has a BMW. So why don’t you ask him to come in that BMW to meet you tomorrow, the Parents’ Visiting Day?”
“Dad too busy, Ma’m. Only Mum comes. In old City Honda.”
“We’ll get your dad here,” said Sheila confidently though she was not sure how she would do it.
She dialled the number of Robin’s Dad on her mobile phone and he agreed to come the next day in his BMW. Not a bad dad, thought Sheila who was familiar with too many dads who would normally need more cajoling and tenderness than their sons and daughters.
Robin fell asleep in the cosy comfort of the woollen blanket that protected him against a chill that the air-conditioner could cause.
Teachers had no air-conditioners. Sheila’s husband worked in an air-conditioned office. He was a manufacturer of computer software for a reputed firm which worked for Bill Gates. He met deadlines every night. Sheila met curlicues every day.
Her husband had finished his deadline. His computer sang its turn off music.
“When can we change our Maruti 800? Don’t we deserve a little better ... comfortable car?” Sheila asked when her husband came to sleep.
“Can we discuss that on Sunday? I’m tired.”
“I’m on duty on Sunday. I work in a residential school. And we have a residence because of my job, don’t forget that.”
Her husband sighed.
“Suppose I buy a new car,” said her husband. “Where will you go? When on earth do you get the time to go anywhere?”
“We can at least show the people that we have a good car,” said Sheila.
Sigh, again. “How obnoxious, these sighs,” thought Sheila.
“Darling,” said Husband. “My job is at stake. The day I don’t meet the deadline, I’m dead...”
Sheila fell asleep in the cradle of her husband’s elbow. In her dream she drove a BMW.