"That's a beautiful name. Age?"
"Thank you. 25"
There it was. This is why she preferred written questionnaires. Why she had ALWAYS preferred them. Cause well let's face it, it was easier to conceal those awkward pauses when she was on her own. Much MUCH easier in comparison to the present situation, where there was somebody hovering over her head, waiting for her response with baited breath. It made her extremely uncomfortable. And even though she knew exactly what she would say after another 10.6 seconds,this awkward silence was sort of mandatory. It had a become a habit, something ingrained in her psyche. She had filled in the same response in all the questionnaires, all the application forms, year after year. But each time they asked her for her parents' name, she faced the dilemma of the prefix. It was a choice she had to make, a choice she would never have had to make, if it wasn't for that gruesome night of her tenth birthday. . .
It was a quiet affair. They had decided to not make a big deal out of their daughter's birthday this year since her grandmother had passed away just a week back. Little Sue was terribly upset, and had been throwing tantrums the entire day. She had even said a few nasty things to her mommy, things she didn't really mean. They broke mommy's heart, but she chose to keep quiet and keep little Sue as happy as possible. Ten was a big number, her little girl was growing up, and she didn't want to make the day worse for the apple of her eye. The world around her was in a state of utmost chaos, and the family lived in constant fear, in case they became the next victims of the riots. Sue, oblivious of the bigger picture, had been sulking in the living room, when she heard the commotion in the hallway.
They had forced themselves in and had immediately overpowered her father. She heard someone screaming, and then realized the shrill sound was emitting from her own throat, as she watched them drag her wounded father into the living room. Mommy dropped the bowl of rice in the kitchen itself and rushed into the room, only to be pinned down on the floor by a boy half her age. She had always maintained that the next 30 minutes were a blur, when people had interrogated her years later. But the truth was, she remembered each and every second of the ordeal. For they made sure she witnessed each and every bloody detail. They had butchered her loved ones in front of her innocent eyes, while one of them covered her mouth with his rough and robust hands. But that wasn't necessary, for she wouldn't have screamed. She couldn't have. It was stuck in her throat, and it remained stuck in there for 30 whole minutes, after which she had collapsed. She still had nightmares at times, and those hands featured prominently in all of them.They always would.
The receptionist cleared his throat loudly. 10.6 seconds had elapsed, she still hadn't answered and he was getting impatient. What was she going to say? Would it be the same? Or would she choose to accept the truth finally and fill atleast ONE application form correctly. Late? Or Mister? She would have to give in to the shattering truth one fine day, she would have to make it official by stating it in her documents. She would, but today just wasn't the day. . .
"Yeah, I'm sorry. Umm it's Mister. . . . "
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