Far From Settled- Flash Fiction

by Chandrika R Krishnan


Her parents had named her Tripti meaning satisfaction, and she lived up to the name. She was a happy and contented soul rising to become the principal of a leading school.

Her parents, though, were far from contented, for she refused to ‘settle down.’ Most Indian Parents love the idea of marriage and feel that their responsibility is over only when their children settle down in matrimony and have a couple of children to call their own. They had to perforce give up their dream. They did put up with a valiant fight during her twenties and made noise in her thirties, but it slowly petered out, and now that she was fifty-seven, they made peace with themselves and their daughter.

Yet, here she was, stepping into the cool environs of The Flying Squirrel, a must-visit coffee shop, a few minutes to five. She was to meet the man she had interacted with online for several months, but this would be their first face-to-face.

The looming retirement made her all too aware that she might end up lonely and shriveled, and she often wondered if she should register on a website that claimed successful second chances and catered to the middle-aged.

It was around that time that their interaction began, albeit quite innocuously to start with.  From the overly formal tone in his appreciation mail to her published piece, she surprised herself when she replied in the same vein as his instead of her usual curt; thank you for your read and comments.

Dear Sandeep,

I hope my address to you by your name is not incorrect, as I don’t know your age. No appreciation is unwelcome!


He immediately replied that he was just 45 and 120 months!  He had further written that he had read through most of her blogs and articles and had disagreed with a few of her views though he appreciated her style of putting forth her points succinctly.   Her response:

“Hi Sandeep….. Thanks.  In response to your earlier query, I am not an outgoing and interesting person. I like to read, write, and sometimes dabble in photography.  I understand that your reading is eclectic. I am more of a non-fiction person.  – Tripti

She opened her mail the next day wondering if he was jobless to keep writing to her and a mixed feeling enveloped her when she read the short mail, “ I don’t agree….but cannot argue now. Need to save energy to argue with the boss!…tc,”  Sandeep.

Tripti smiled.   She remembered that it was his sense of humour that tempted her to continue to correspond with him despite the obvious pitfalls of online interaction. Besides, he seemed a garrulous soul to her reticent one.

Dear Tripti,

How come your team of teachers and students is putting up with such a drab person?  Your idea of dabbling in Photography seems to differ from the judges of photography contests.  I found that you have been a winner in a few of those. I know all this because I ‘googled’ you and found you interesting.

Before I proceed, I am an architect, and my partners and I have designed a few office spaces. Our next project is adjacent to your school.  I saw your profile on Linkedin, and yes, I did a fair amount of stalking you online!” That admission had her smile rather than raise hackles.

She gathered from subsequent emails that he was a few years younger than her, divorced with no children, and here they were to meet for the first time after six months of corresponding with one another.

Catching her reflection, she was happy that she projected cool nonchalance though her stomach turned queasy as if she was taking off on a plane. She wondered if she should have a rose on her hair or had him put one on his lapel. Would they be able to recognize each other from their respective profile pictures?

Those thoughts had barely flitted through her when she felt herself drowning in those dark eyes that caught and held her own. She was the kind who scorned clichés and felt that they hardly encapsulated what one felt, but today she had a healthy respect for them. She walked towards the man, who slowly stood up from the chair. She paused for several seconds as her eyes took in his height which was much more than she had envisaged it to be from the profile pictures she had spent poring over like some love-struck teenager rather than a sensible, well-into-her-fifties woman would.

Her eyes took in his irregular features. His salt and pepper hair gave him character, and she was pleased with his choice of dark navy blue shirt and well-fitted, fawn trousers. His hesitant, “Tripti?’ had her teetering on the verge of losing control, only to fall off when he gave her a one-stemmed yellow rose. She was happy he did not choose a red rose and was happier because it was not a bouquet. Her mind screamed a warning, yet her heart was tired of the constant rationality and the erect spine of a Principal.

Sandeep waited for her to regain her composure and hoped his galloping heart slowed down to do a canter. He was not prepared for the force of such attraction at the very first meet. He felt completely alienated from the crowd as she walked towards him. A man whose family accused him of not observing things right under his nose happened to notice how she brushed back the stray strand of her hair and heard the rustle of her cotton Sari as she walked what appeared to take an interminable distance to reach him. He hoped that his words would not sound like a frog though he felt his throat imitating one.  He rightfully felt the aroma might linger on as the coffee shop claimed. He was not to know that it did well into their sixties too!

image credit: Curt Cornum from Pixabay



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