“What?” I Whispered, Looking Around Nervously…

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I was sitting on the subway minding my own business when I heard a voice call my name.

I looked around but knew no one and it certainly looked like no one was hailing me. But that voice persisted getting ruder by the minute. I suddenly realised it was my own inner voice trying to get my attention.

“What?” I whispered, looking around nervously…

This is after all the United States and any weird behaviour is looked upon suspiciously. I did not want to be accosted by the transit police and questioned about my mental faculties.

Before my inner voice responded, a man boarded the train and plonked himself beside me, since it happened to be the only available seat. I was assailed by a foul odour of urine and fried food. I looked at him and realised he was a member of New York’s homeless.

His clothes had seen better days and his hair certainly looked like it had never been cut, leave alone washed. I was in a dilemma. It was rude to just get up and move because it looked like discrimination. After all, everyone tries to behave in a politically correct manner. The lady on the other side of the man, had not given up her seat. She did not even look uncomfortable. I stayed put.

My inner voice did not. “Eww, gross. Please get up and leave. I refuse to be subjected to this smell.” I stayed put. After much mumbling and grumbling, my inner voice decided to take a walk and leave me in peace or rather in discomfort. I remembered I was carrying a bottle of perfume in my bag since I was going out after work and wanted to make sure I still smelt good at the end of the day. I surreptitiously took it out and pretended to spray some perfume on me. That was much better.

Now every once in a while I inhaled the fragrance off my clothes or wrists and heaved a sigh of relief. To my surprise, the woman on the other side caught my eye and gave me a thumbs up. So she did have a problem.

Such incidents are not uncommon on the New York subway. If it is not a homeless, its someone pleading for money claiming to be jobless and hungry. Others croak at the top of their voice and get some cash simply to shut them up. Then there are expert contortionists performing off the poles and others who actually sound like they belong at Carnegie Hall.

I peek at these performers while pretending to be engrossed in my book or else I feel an obligation to give them some cash. Once in a while I do succumb and throw a few coins or a dollar bill into the hat they bring around.

No one else seems to have these moral dilemmas. People openly look at the performances without parting with cash later.

New York: a city with so many contrasts.

But back to my inner voice. Later that evening, I was watching the late news when I heard the ‘psst.’ In the privacy of my home, I had no compunctions on having a conversation with an imaginary presence and so responded with a ‘psst.’

The voice then asked me why I do not start my own television channel. I was shocked. Where did this stem from? “Come on,” said my voice. “You spend all your time complaining about the news on television.

If you started your own channel, you get to control what is aired. After all Oprah and even Arnab have started their own channels. I have just the right name for you.”

Absurd as the suggestion was, I could not resist asking what this channel would be named. “MOAN: Monique’s Own Anguished Network.” I spluttered on my coffee but summarily rejected the idea.

My inner voice got all sulky and declared it was taking a holiday to bond with the inner voices of Arnab and Oprah.

I wished it well, turned off the television and got into bed.

But what a brilliant suggestion. I tossed and turned in bed. With one stroke I could solve many issues. I would finally live my secret dream of being a television anchor. I could certainly control what is aired on my television.

Imagine, if I so desired, I would no longer need to hear the voice of Potus. And Ivanka Trump’s inking of a lucrative deal with China will not be swept under a carpet.

Terrorists will no longer be given airtime; they would simply fade away because of a lack of attention. Wouldn’t they? Hmm maybe not. I would absolutely highlight all the positive work being done by people in the world rather than constantly harp about misery. And funding is easy today.

All I need to do is outsource it to a crowdfunding platform. I could already visualise myself at the Microsoft theatre holding my Emmy and acknowledging all the accolades.

“Tring Tring.” A persistent sound interrupted my thought flow. I woke up with a start. Was I sleeping? Oh well, it was a good dream while it lasted.

Not a bad idea though. In the meantime, the nation should know whether I will or not?

Oops! forgot that there is a copyright battle on that phrase.

Monique Patel

Monique Patel

Monika Patel – Monique to her friends – is now a permanent resident of New York City, but her heart is permanently in Pune, her home for 28 years.
Monique Patel

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