What followed unfortunately, was a spree of increasing disappointment every day, for four weeks; this was, not because she religiously missed the train, but he did. She tried changing compartments, even trains, but he had vanished, much like a phantom, invisibly haunting her. Even worse, she kept having those dreams that had nothing to do with him, but always ended with the painting of his book in some form or the other. Had her subconscious lost perspective?
The month long wait and her ludicrous dreams assured her of one thing: she wasn’t cut out for anything new. She made peace with her life and sincerely tried to enjoy answering calls. She was on such a call one day, aimlessly scribbling in the in-house newsletter, when something in the budding artists section left her flabbergasted. She could have recognized that sketch in her grave. It even had her signature infinity sign. Only, the name below the sketch begged to differ. Forgetting altogether that she was still on the call, she frantically tried placing his name, certain of having come across it somewhere else: company memos, contact lists maybe and—yes, he had an office on the same floor as her boss. She almost bumped into his nameplate every time she got off the elevator. But, how did her sketch get there?
It didn’t take too long to figure that out. It was her habit of getting rid of the sketches that didn’t turn out the way she expected, by stuffing them into anything she found in front of her: memos, magazines, dustbins, office booklets, telephone directories—some of which were circulated throughout the place, and thus, picked up by the thieving rascal. But, there was no time to think about that now. She had to act, and soon. Never was she so overwhelmed that she couldn’t move an inch. She was furious and anxious; emboldened yet hesitant. A sudden burst of resolve jolted her off the inertia and she felt it amplify with her every step. Perfect or not—it was her baby to claim.
She stomped out of the elevator, towards his office, fully prepared to tear the guy a new one, but couldn’t get past his door. Instead, she just stood there, choked with emotion, hands quivering with nervous energy. Every inch of the door was covered with compliments, encouraging words, and bizarre interpretations of the sketch. Her sketch—the one she threw away, the one she thought didn’t deserve a second look—was up there speaking for itself, hungry for recognition. That was when the insight that she had been having in bits and pieces, finally crystallized. The dream about the book was not meaningless; on a subconscious level, she knew what needed to be done, something she didn’t have the strength to admit, until then. Now that it was finally upon her, she didn’t know how to react. First, she wept like a baby, free of shame and restraint, till her tear reserves dried up. Then, she laughed it off taking solace in the fact that all it took was an extremely attractive guy reading an appropriately titled book and some garden variety larceny to get there. More importantly, that moment was the closest to fearlessness she had ever experienced in her life.
Before she steadied herself to make a formal announcement to her boss, she scribbled a little note to the delinquent: “Thank you for waking me up.”
On the way back home that day, she bought The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and actually read it.