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The Molested Mannequin by April Windbow

August 1, 2016


“Educational hubs attract various kinds of businesses. Entire townships evolve on their fringes. Food, clothing, and shelter, once upon a time, were well known as the three basic needs. Now, there are a couple of other contenders fighting strongly for their name on the list as the fourth basic need. Education, by far, wins.” Shreyan kept repeating, often forgetting bits, helplessly beginning all the way from the beginning.

There was something cyclic and mechanical about Shreyan’s squealing that made Aarika feel sick. She felt like she was going to puke, uncontrollably. As though his squealing was a ride she was forced to take… a roller coaster ride!

“Shut up, you dodo! There’s no way you are going to memorize this. So better give up.” Aarika blurted out.

“I can’t chill like you. I can’t even believe you still haven’t decided your topic. What are you going to do?” came Shreyan’s words, adding to her sense of discomfort.

Aarika almost shocked him when she said, “yeah… I know I am in a bad state and I am probably not going to have my topic in place even until the night before. So, stop practicing in front of me. PLEASE! I already feel terrible and seeing you prepare like this, I feel miserable too. So, stop it.”

She was not kidding. There wasn’t even a slightest hint of jest in what she said. She literally sounded misery-struck. Before Shreyan could make any guesses at what got her so woe-weary, she stood up and left the room.

Aarika walked into the garden, and pointing at a bee sucking honey from a flower she said, “Isn’t that unfair?”

Shreyan didn’t know what sense to make of her question, so he kept quiet. He wondered to himself, “I need to find a remedy for her despondency.”

Aarika then walked to a little puddle and stared at it aimlessly. Just when Shreyan was about to ask her what she was looking at, she questioned, “Looking at this puddle, if I feel dirty, is the puddle dirty or is it just me?”

Shreyan was inexplicably stunned and resorted to silence.

In a while, she began answering the question herself. She elaborated, “Dirty is the nature of a puddle isn’t it? Its inherent quality? But, not all puddles are dirty. Yet, if a particular puddle evokes among other responses, a peculiar sense of disgust, surely, it’s not just me.”

“What’s the matter Aarika?” Shreyan inquired.

“I got my topic.”

“What!! What is it..?”

“Umm… I don’t know how to say it.”

“Come on Aarika!”

“The thing is, I know I want to talk about it, but I don’t know what I want to say about it. Let me try and explain… So, the other day when I went shopping, I saw this mannequin outside a shop. The fine dress it wore was pushed too low at a certain spot. I know I may not make any sense, but it felt as though someone had done that on purpose. To add to it, I saw few of those sales boys pointing towards it and laughing covertly. The mannequin was molested. And so were our thoughts. All of us! I don’t think anyone who passed that shop and failed to not notice that mannequin had kept themselves safe from unpleasant annoying thoughts. It was not just me.”

Shreyan didn’t say a word. But, he nodded. And his nod said he understood. His nod was not the ‘it’s okay’ nod, but a ‘yes, talk… We must all talk about this’ nod.

Aarika decided to go impromptu and did not talk about any of it until the final day. Just minutes before her talk, she closed her eyes and revised that feeling, those unpleasant annoying thoughts, and Shreyan’s nod.

Not only applause and admiration, Aarika won a lot more.

Copyright ©2016 April Windbow

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