I was outside the VISA office on Monday, willingly allowing the skin to melt off my face as I dreamed of going to America. Even as drops of sweat dripped from between my breasts, I imagined standing inside the Waterfront Park in Seattle, allowing the rain to get everywhere. The lady-behind-the-counter’s voice boomed in my head. “VISA approved” was all I could hear. Now only if the cab would arrive.
I yawned and walked around as the armed guards constantly told me to step away and “go wait over there”. Hundreds of visitors, as hopeful as I had been before the interview, stood waiting patiently in line. I hadn’t noticed this when I was in the line, but people were surprisingly well-behaved. Some of these were parents waiting to visit their children “abroad”. Then there were the people dressed in barely-qualifies-as-formals hoping to appear like “good” people. Some families stood in the shade, waiting to join their teenage kids laughing and giggling in the line at the last minute. But nobody fought with anyone over whose turn it was!
I was lost in that train of thought, marveling at people’s amazing ability to morph into the perfect citizens for a sliver of a chance to go to the US when I realized that the left side of my face was getting warm. That only happens to me when someone stares.
A young girl, dressed casually in jeans and a full-sleeved kurta was eyeing my dupatta. She looked away as soon as she caught my eye, and started fiddling with her phone. Typical, I muttered under my breath. My phone rang, and I felt relief spread through my body. The cab, finally, I thought as I hastily answered.
Kaun? Who’s that? The woman on the other side answered. I get really annoyed when people call and ask who I am.
Aapne phone kiya hai na, aap bataiye kisse baat karni hai? Hey, you called, you tell me who you are first.
Ji main Varsha bol rahi hoon. This is Varsha speaking.
Kisse baat karni hai aapko? Whom do you want to speak with? Papa ne kaha tha jab free ho ja is number pe call karna. Dad asked me to call this number when I got free.
Sorry, wrong number. I sounded very irritated, and my pitch was really high. I looked around to see if anyone was listening, and became aware of the girl who was talking on the phone, puzzled, and looking at me, mouthing the words that I heard on the phone.
What are the odds? Has something like this ever happened to you?