“Ah, it's you”, says the tall lady (Padmaja should really find out her name), “you're back. I thought you had forgotten the way to my house.”
It is a Thursday morning and Padmaja had remembered that there was to be a special bhajan celebration to mark somebody or the other's birthday.
“Look, who's here,” announces the tall lady to the assembled crowd of eight women, “it's our friend from the A block.”
Unsure how to react to this reception, Padmaja waves at the others in the room. Perhaps it would have been better to simply slink into a corner, she would recall later.
“We were expecting you at our annual trip to Shirdi.”, says the tall lady turning her attention back to Padmaja, “I had booked group tickets for all of us, including you and I had paid up front. We couldn't get in touch with you and there was no one else who was free at such a short notice. In the end, it went to waste. I ended up losing money because of you.”
“Oh”, manages Padmaja feebly, “I'm sorry.”
“In future, I would like a bit more of a commitment. I don't want people wasting my time and theirs if they are not interested.”
Padmaja settles herself at the back row and trains her eye on the wall clock willing its hands to move faster.