She’s sitting there in the hall.

The people are being called randomly, so everybody is on tenterhooks, attentive but anxious. She’s more than anxious.

Clara, Allegra and Chuck are discussing what they would say with the other guy. She’s framing up her 2 minute introduction and finally decides upon a failed bunk attempt at school as her funny moment and making up some answer for the other parts.

As the introductions progress, she starts enjoying. The people are giving very good feedback, cheering, laughing, asking questions and welcoming each new speaker as if initiating a new bond.

It’s difficult to remember every detail but she’s storing parts of information about everybody. For example, the guy who sang a very rustic song to much applause and hooting, the girl who said she writes but doesn’t show it to anybody except people who are close to her (to which a burly guy sitting in front of her whispers to other guys – ‘now we’ll make sure nobody hears what you write’), the guy who says he likes gifting people and would give gifts to them all at the end of the program (applause again), the girl who smiles a lot, the girl who refuses to accept the mic saying it would be a personal insult to her voice, etc.

And soon it’s her turn. She’s trembling by the time she arrives on the podium. All 65 something eyes are turned to her as she shakily proceeds with her introduction. All is going fairly well, until she relates her funniest moment. At the crucial moment when she explains how they threw their bags out from the back gate of the school to find the teacher staring down at their backs nobody laughs. Some of the guys have a questioning look in their eyes as if asking, ‘so far so good but when’s the funny-ness of this going to come?’ She’s about to freeze due to such weird response but somehow completes her intro and stumbles back to her seat. Duh! So much for a grand first impression!

Now she’s relieved. Easing back into the chair she enjoys the new introductions.

Soon it’s lunchtime. They are all supposed to have lunch in the open dining area of the premises.

Shit! Food was something very personal to her. And eating with complete strangers! Oh god!

She follows Clara, Chuck and Allegra downstairs to the dining area.

The other guy is also with them. She finally decides to speak to this bespectacled serious-looking bloke.

“Hi! We haven’t been introduced yet. I’m……..” she says.

“Hi, I’m Beathan” he says.

That’s all they say till lunch ends. Silence punctuated by Chuck, Allegra and Clara conversing. She pipes in whenever adequate, noticing that Chuck too is not that familiar with them. It turns out to be better than expected.

She notices a few more people but that’s that.

Slowly people are starting to talk to each other, acknowledging each other with smiles.

They turn back to the hall and the session continues well into the evening.

She reaches home thoroughly exhausted, not really forming any opinion about any person there or the program in general. She just wants to catch up on rest before the equally grueling day tomorrow.

Drifting away to sleep she smiles to herself that she got out of home and found a place with so much energy bumbling around her.

© 2013 A. K.


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