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Pot Shots
by Mamta Murthy

Last night, I dreamt that I was crossing a dark mass of water in a tiny boat. Funnily enough, I was all dressed to work. I even had my handbag beside me in the boat. I was rowing and rowing, and still seemed to be making no progress. All of a sudden, I heard a rumbling and looked up to see a bulldozer advancing from the shores. The man driving it seemed familiar – he was my boss! I also realized that I’d been crossing a puddle formed by a gigantic pothole! Just when the vehicle neared the puddle, I woke up.

What a weird nightmare! I heaved a sigh of relief that it was only a dream. But the next second, I let out a shriek. 9.15 am! I was late yet again. I cursed my luck, went through motions of brushing my teeth, having a shower, and within twenty minutes was out heading towards the bus stop. Just as I neared the stop, I tripped. My handbag flew in one direction, and my glasses in another.

Somehow I hauled myself up, put my glasses on and turned to see what I’d tripped over. My jaw dropped open and my eyes resembled saucers. An onlooker would have thought I was seeing UFOs or something similar. But for me, it was a sight even bizarre than that. I’d tripped over a *pothole*! The honking of a car brought me back to my senses. I attempted to reach for my handbag when my ankle screamed. Darn! I didn’t need a sprain to worsen my misery. I signaled for a cab and managed to twist myself into its interior.

The ride in the cab now resembled a ride in a roller coaster, zooming up and down the roads. As we hit the ground after one sharp jump, the cabbie said something. Did you say something, I asked him. “Potholes, ma’m. These municipal guys are lazier than ever. No idea when they’ll repair the potholes in these roads.”

At last, we reached my office. What would I say, I wondered, if my boss asked me the reason for my tardiness? I was late because I had a nightmare featuring him and a pothole? I was even late because I tripped over a pothole? For sure, if I said all this, my next destination would be a lunatic asylum. I cooked up a suitable excuse to narrate.

As I entered the office, I was struck by the silence all around. Where was everybody? I asked the security guard because I couldn’t find anyone else to ask. Today has been declared a holiday, he said. The look on my face must have frightened him because he suddenly looked concerned. “Are you ok, madam?”

That night I had another dream. On a bedecked dais, a pothole called out a name from among a hall full of potholes. A familiar-looking pothole advanced up to the stage to receive the “Pothole of the Year” award.