Barnali Ray Shukla’s short story captures the raw emotions and their fragility, that are the core of any relationship.
Pallavi had a way with lies. She had made it her superpower. Every evening I’d be tense about this phone call from her, sharing something that she had thought of and had eventually made a reality out of it. This did one thing to her. Her trust in people was gone, and fiction was too accessible.
She sneered at posts on Instagram after she reached her office in a shared Uber. While at work, she chose to overhear phone conversations and began a narrative in her head, before getting into the conference room. Her years at the Accounts and Audits department, only made her certain that people have much to hide. When her hunch met the fact, she would call me. She needed a listener, not a rationale.
This worked well for me as I returned home from the University to only my goldfish and they wanted very little from me. All they needed was a clean home, air, and food, just like me when I began my day and before I went to sleep. Lately, I had been looking forward to hearing Pallavi’s voice because it was that time of the year when my students were busy taking examinations. For a professor, it was strange not to hear one’s own voice all day. For whatever her banter was worth, what I envied was Pallavi’s total surrender to the power of speculative fiction.