Haresh Shah

Usurped By The Occupational Hazard

amoeba2

Pascual at the Hotel Ritz reception in Barcelona hands me my room key, and along with it a few folded telexes and messages from my mail slot. I walk a few steps to the elevator and as the tiny old timer cage rises, I unroll the letter size message. It says HAPPAY BIRTHDAY HARESH. Repeated umpteen times inside a white Playboy rabbit head computer graphic on the grey background. The margins are annotated and signed by everyone in my department. As slow as the elevator is, it’s still a short ride up to the fourth floor. Something about that electronically transmitted birthday card on a flimsy fax paper triggers an enormous emotional and physical outburst into me. My hands are shaking as I slide open the folding metal door of the elevator. I rush to my room, barely manage to open the door. Slam it shut and I have a total breakdown. I throw my weight in the middle of  the bed, and sink into the hollow of the sagging old mattress. First I start sobbing uncontrollably.  Then my whole body begins to shake violently and I feel cold sweat oozing out of every pour of my skin. And then I feel hot, like a pre-heated oven, ready for baking. I pull the blanket over, try to control my convulsions and break out into wailing sobs and a desperate cry.

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