I watch transfixed as the girl (who I will later know as Shona and with whom I would fall in love and would marry) opens the pack of biscuits and feeds the litter of puppies. I flick away my cigarette, drink the last swig of my tea and hurry over to assist her – the puppies were a handful. She is late for her exams. I promise that I will not leave the place until the puppies have had their fill.
Shona smiles as the persistent little boy keeps circling us, trying to peddle us his wares. I sigh in frustration and offer to buy his whole basket. Shona stops me. She says I will spoil the boy. She buys a small trinket for 20 bucks. The boy goes away disappointed. I learn a valuable lesson.
I take an MNC job. It comes with great perks. Shona joins an NGO. I propose to her. She makes me pledge thirty percent of my salary for charity. She smiles. She says yes.
Both our parents are less than thrilled when we insist that we will not agree for a lavish wedding. It was my idea and Shona was all for it. Her father groans when I say we will not go on a honeymoon as well and instead use the money to secure our future and donate a sizable chunk to orphanages. He dumps the brochures of Bora Bora on the settee and leaves. I look at Shona and detect a twinge of disappointment in her visage.
Shona wants a baby. I say ‘baby, not right now’. She is frustrated. She has been for a while. I understand. I have been traveling a lot. I suggest that she get a job where she could put to use, what she studied. She wants to give it a shot. We agree to contribute more towards charity.
Shona is a rising star in her organization. I am proud of her. She is selected for a conference in Paris. She is thrilled. We buy an apartment in a posh area.
She is traveling more than me. My company has lost a huge contract. I’m worried.
I have been let go. Shona has been promoted to Senior Manager. She has a meeting in the afternoon. I have an interview at ten. She doesn’t respond when I ask about breakfast. The pantry is empty. I drink a glass of water.
I see the letter from the orphanage. They are requesting for donations. We have been too busy, I guess. The child on the envelope smiles at me.