“Hmm!” said appa, without looking up from his newspaper.
She was about to go back into her room. He did not seem to be noticing that either. She stood there hesitating for a minute. A sneeze startled appa’s attention. And a bout of sneezes continued to rock his constitution.
At the end of it, he was too shaken up to go back to his newspaper. And she kept standing there.
He looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time in his house. He said “Yeah?” “Are you waiting to talk to me?”
“What?” said appa. She was quiet.
There was a very amused, curious expression on appa’s face. He started biting his nails.
She said, “I have fever..”
Appa said, “Oh!” He had been too distanced from her to feel her forehead and check if she was running a temperature.
“I have no idea what to do.” said appa. He sounded genuinely confused and mildly distressed at his own inability to help.
She said, “No! Anyways I take two antibiotics everyday. I’ll just go to sleep now.”
Appa was slightly alarmed. It showed in his dilating pupils. Now he was thinking.
“What about office?” “Have you informed them?” Now he began thinking she is feigning a fever to escape work.
“Yeah I just text messaged my colleague. The air conditioner at work is too strong and directly over my head. I don’t want to go there and aggravate my fever”
“I see!” Appa was thinking hard. “Why don’t you take a scarf with you? Or a sweater?”
“No, pa” she said, “It is neither so cold you should wear a sweater, nor so warm you can go there with a fever. It is damp there..”
“What is happening with your current project at work?” asked appa.
“Umm.. we are still in the initial phase..” She cleared her throat because something seemed to be choking there. She coughed now.
“Will they be ok with it if you don’t go.. I mean, you’ve just started off with your new project and everything” Appa was trying really hard to sound concerned, polite and persuasive at once.
“Is your fever so significant that you can’t go to work?” appa asked.
She was quiet. Her throat felt dry and irritated. Some germs must be having a rock show running in there, she imagined.
“I’m going to sleep, pa” she said. “I’ve body ache”
“Fine.” said appa curtly. “I have some interesting stuff to read in this newspaper.” He went back to his paper.
She went into her room and shut the door. She called her best friend who was never there when she wanted him.
“Hello” she said.
“Hi” said he.
“Can I talk to you for a few minutes?” she asked cautiously. Time with her best friend was always rationed out according to his needs.
Surprisingly, he said, “Yes!”
“What would you say if I said I have fever and I’m not going to work?”
“Go to sleep and take rest. Take care of yourself”
“What about somebody who says, ‘Is your fever so significant, you can’t go to work?'”
“That person is really concerned.”
“About what? My work?”
“But that person has nothing to do with my office or my work”
“Who was it? Dad?”
“He has good work ethics.”
She talked to him for a few more minutes and for some unknown reason he hung up on her abruptly. He did not answer the two calls she made after that.
She had nowhere to go. So she wrote everything down.