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“We’re at your service, Ma’am. You’ll have to turn off your mobile now. Don’t try to contact anyone from now on. Don’t log into your Facebook account. We’ll do that and upload the morphed pictures of you having a blast.”
“Okay. Thanks. Bye.” Wilma hung up and turned off her mobile. She turned on the TV, increased the volume when she found a channel playing music, and she danced in the room. To prove that she was having fun, she ordered room service to send up a dish she had never even heard of before. She flirted with the waiter.
She threw away the food after one bite. It tasted terrible.
Boredom seeped in. She went against Ishita’s warning and turned on her mobile, she couldn’t resist. There were three messages and she was glad her friends must be missing her. But the messages were from a bank trying to sell an insurance policy.
Wilma logged into her Facebook account. There were three photos of her that had been uploaded just two minutes before. One had her standing next to a coconut tree at some beach. Another had her lying on a hammock sipping orange juice and wearing a straw hat, while the third had her rowing a boat.
She turned off her mobile and tossed it on the bed. Thirty-six hours had to pass before she could step out of the room.
Her resolve broke down in ten minutes. She went to the restaurant on the ground floor. After all, she had taken only one bite of that awful meal they had sent up.
A family of three sat on the table to her left. The mother held a crying child in her lap. Wilma put her hand to her ears to keep the noise from disturbing her. She called the waiter and whispered, “That child is making so much noise. He’s disturbing my dining experience. Will you do something about it, please?”
“If you want we can send food to your room, but we can’t tell our patrons to stop their children from crying.”
“But it’s rude of them. They are disturbing others. Never mind, just go away and get me some cold coffee.”
Wilma sighed. She pressed her forehead, feigning a headache. The child continued to cry, not affected by the mother’s gentle pats.
“Excuse me,” said Wilma. “Could you please control your child? He’s disturbing me.”
“Sorry,” said the woman. She whispered something in her son’s ear.
“Well you’d better be.” Wilma realized she was the one being rude, but she didn’t care. She pressed her forehead. “I have such a bad headache.”
The child continued to cry. It wasn’t the crying that bothered Wilma as much as the woman’s indifference. She wanted the woman to fight with her. It would give Wilma some validation. But right now the mother’s indifference toward Wilma’s arrogance irritated Wilma. She felt as if she didn’t exist.
She got up and stomped off to her room.
She turned on her mobile. Ten likes. Just ten likes, that’s it! She flung the mobile against the wall. Its back cover broke and the battery came out. She had paid twice her salary and had received only ten likes. She’d teach that Ishita a lesson. The wall clock showed eleven p.m.
Firecrackers burst outside and loud music began playing from a neighboring room. Wilma walked to the window and pressed her hand to the glass pane. “Everyone is having a blast. This is New Year’s Night. I deserve to have fun.”
The phone on the bedside table rang. Wilma thought it must be the manager inviting her for the hotel’s own party. She didn’t answer. But I want to have fun, she told herself, then picked up her mobile from the floor. She put the battery back in and switched the device on. She would call her friends and tell them everything. She couldn’t spend New Year’s alone. Friends are more important than a Facebook image. She would confess everything. Her friends would forgive her. Friends forgive everything, she told herself.
The mobile screen blinked and she took a deep breath as the phone came to life. She thumbed through the contacts to call Neelima when the mobile beeped. There was a message from Neelima.
“Great Party Pictures!! Where are you?”
A grin came to Wilma’s face. Her thumb went from the call button to the power button and she switched off the phone. So Ishita had finished uploading all the party pictures. Being envied is an achievement in itself, Wilma thought. She didn’t even feel lonely anymore. She went to the window, closed the curtains, and turned off the lights. She had a big day ahead of her tomorrow. Ishita would send an email that would explain what Wilma had to say when her friends asked her about the Facebook pictures. There were going to be a lot of details to remember right, from the name of the fabulous beach to the description of the perfect climate to how she arrived there and all the exotic cuisine she enjoyed.
Wilma pulled the blanket over herself and went to sleep. Friends are important but equally important is what people think about you, she thought. Being envied is not an easy feat.