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An estimated 5-minute read
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She had dreamt of this countless times before, but today she was finally given her chance.

The crew was ready for her – their gazes expectant as if she was a theatrical performer. She was fidgety. In the moment before plunging she was sure she would collapse from either the stress of the anticipated fatal fall, or from the stress of having to live down her theatrical self’s clumsy, less-than-perfect tumble in front of her audience.

She had felt the gut-wrenching need for a man, her man to be beside her in that moment before the jump, and just transfer the stress from her shoulders to his. He’d be the kind who’d also know exactly which weak links to doubly tie into tight assuring knots.

But as of today, real-time, there was no man beside her and she had the option to jump alone or turn away. So she closed her eyes and took a leap of faith.

Then she was suspended. Her feet were supported on nothingness now, her mind hypnotised to chant, on a loop, “bring me death without pain”, in the first split second, and a livid loop of, “heck I am too good for you, death!” in the next.

After what seemed a lifetime later, having evaluated that she hadn’t sustained a fatal fall, she sensed she was floating effortlessly.

She snapped out of her reverie of conflicting chants, opened her eyes to look around and the adrenaline rush from the scene she took in nearly caused her a cardiac arrest. Not only could she see just about everything from up here, but for the first time ever her carrier in mid-air was her own backbone! Things which surrounded and dwarfed her once, still existed, only miniature now.

A bird’s eye view like never before, gave her a sense of control so gratifying that her toes curled and curled with excitement, until a nerve pulled in her left foot. As the chilly wind caressed her face, once again came hitting the gut wrenching longing for a partner in this crime of unequivocal control, to also be floating beside her.

This was the kind of glorious moment she wanted another person to live with. The world beneath, she above, she in graceful control, she having overcome her fears, and she and him having taken a journey upward together to this unique place mid-stratosphere where they were the only ones able to see the rest of the world.

Narrating this moment to him won’t do, nothing short of living it together would.

As her chauffeur turned inside her office driveway and brought the car to a grinding halt, the wind was washed out – with the wind caressing her face no more, the longing for the floating partner was wiped out. She was again broken off her reverie.

But her toes were still curling, the adrenaline levels hadn’t rushed back down, and the weight of the multinational giant Brownton Engineering’s first case file on her lap was still making her heart do such a flutter of satisfaction that she could die.

Parharsh, her only co-founding partner, was still a good hour or two away from the news that Zena had clinched the first MNC-account for their beloved eight months old, fairly doubted, start up law firm – he was not in the room during the final handshake – when the world ceased to be around her, dwarfing her, and went straight to existing in miniature form down down down below.

The company directors who had made their phone call to a firm from the old boys club earlier, then nippily ignoring the pitch presentation she and Parharsh had slaved on over many sleepless nights, now six months later finally shook hands with her, reposing faith in her young backbone – trusting her pluck.

Parharsh wasn’t there for this. He had missed their moment of glory. He wasn’t there for his own wedding – the wedding being the Brownton clincher. And as difficult as it was to contain herself from squealing it into the phone immediately, she wasn’t going to be the second person to miss being in the room today.

She would witness his expression on telling him in person, watch him watch her be a rockstar, and see him inch closer to realising that the two of them – who spent 12 hours together creating boardroom magic everyday – were meant to be a team in every other way. Yes, Brownton was big enough to win Zena, Parharsh’s heart, seeing that her feat on it almost gave her a cardiac arrest herself, earlier in the car.

But then such heart-arrests or getting the kind of high only para-gliders or free-fall cameramen would describe otherwise, from her academic or professional projects wasn’t new to Zena.

She experienced it for the first time in second grade when she turned in a space-station 3D model as summer-break homework where other classmates were trying to keep a rubber zoozoo barely standing on a sheet of Thermacol demonstrating some sorry math theory. She was made class-monitor, was given that potentially-delirious reward called control over miscreants, and lo - the paragliding high for career feats was chronic.

Though it wasn’t decided back then, ten years later she ended up in law school.

Her list of paramours: The school-senior who solved complicated logic puzzles with her, the law school super-senior who mooted as if for a living and practiced with her on her moots, another law school senior who yelled in an attractive baritone at policemen to get his internship senior advocate’s work done - she hoped she’d be soon one day yelling with him on his own cases, an office associate at her internship, another one at her training – there were lovely sensual nights of Maggi-eating and drafting!

All her relationships were with older men. Men of the world – as she put it to critics – in their infinite wisdom. She reposed in their wisdom, the confidence to hope that while she was dealing with the puzzle that was her life one piece at a time, they being wiser would be able to see at once how it all fit together, and know that it all fit well.

All her men smiled with their eyes. The kind of smile that yet again told her, “all is going to be well, because I know it!”

But was it going to be? She was 29 now, and though as a law firm partner paragliding highs were only becoming more frequent, she was afraid those highs would soon lose their fizzle – she was spending most of her waking hours with a man who was as professionally available as emotionally unavailable – and for her the two were tied, she was a paraglider where business was concerned, after all!

Zena opened Parharsh’s office door, it was empty. She went in, toward the cabinet, grabbed the yellow notepad, and then toward his desk to fetch the pen. She scribbled a note about Brownton and left it there on the desk, door safely shut behind her, deciding to take the rest of the day off.

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