Monday, October 16, 2006

Part 2

"Tch tch, it's a pity to be working on such a beautiful day." She said to herself while looking at the blue skies from the window. It was going to rain. She knew instinctively. But there was work to finish before she could enjoy the rains.



She raised her head to see Rohan smiling in front of her.

"What for?"

"Farewell gift for Sid."

"I have already given it to Roopa."

"You must have given her 100 bucks, the budget is now increased, need 100 more."

"200!! You must be kidding! I don’t even know that guy!"

"What do you mean you don’t even know that guy? He is in the team that sits next to our team, both teams go out together to coffee, lunch, all the time. I am surprised you are haggling like this for mere 100 bucks."

Chitra could feel her face flushing and eyes narrowing with anger. "You guys must be going out, I have never ever!! And mister, it's my money. For you 200 bucks might be alright but for me it is a ridiculously high amount to spend on someone I don’t even know! I would have contributed 200 bucks, even 250 bucks if he was from my team but this thing makes no sense at all!! I am already repenting why I gave 100 bucks to Roopa in the first place." Chitra raised her voice. She was so angry with herself for justifying to Rohan. She regretted her outburst and thought a simple "I have run out of cash. Will give later" would have been more appropriate.

"Okay! Shall ask Roopa to return your money. When you leave I will make sure that nobody gives you a farewell. Yeah, remember, not even a farewell. I need not bother actually. The way you stay cooped up in your cubicle the whole day, nobody will even notice that you have left." Even before he had said that Rohan was praying he hadn’t said it. He knew he was being too rude for no reason. He was so sorry and looking at Chitra's lower lip quiver he felt ashamed of himself.

Chitra's face was blank, she just stared at nothing in particular for a moment and then whispered, "Okay" and sat down.

"I am so sorry...I...I didn’t intend to say that...I really didn’t mean it." Rohan stood for a while but Chitra did not lift up her head. He left.

Chitra tried hard to concentrate at her computer screen, but it was just a blur. Tears trickled down her cheeks and she with great effort controlled her composure. She knew that what Rohan had said was not true. She knew that she would be missed by all. Even the housekeeping staff whom she knew by their names. But she found it hard that somebody can behave so unprofessionally at workplace.

By the time she got up after an hour, everybody had left. She was glad that nobody had seen her cry.

It was raining heavily and the skies had grown dark gray. Thank God, she rarely left home without her umbrella.

She would have to catch a rickshaw to reach home tonight as buses would be crowded and it would be impossible to wait at the bus stop in these rains. As she rushed to get out of the office gates she saw a familiar figure waiting near the car park. She knew she had to avoid him. She tried to walk fast but holding the umbrella in one hand and her books in the other hand, it was not easy.

"I am sorry Chitra, I really am." She heard Rohan running and catching up with her.

Chitra just kept walking as if he was invisible.

"Please!! Stop making me feel so guilty. What can I do to show that I am really really sorry?" He pleaded.

"Get lost." She said and turned around to face him.

He had spoiled his clothes running after her in heavy rains.

He still kept walking with her.
"What's it now?"
"Can I drop you home?"
She frowned at him. "No need to be chivalrous. I will take a rick."
"I am just trying to make up for spoiling your mood, Can I drop you home?"
"That's fine Rohan, I felt bad just for that moment. And anyways I am not affected by what others say and what they do." Chitra said, hoping that Rohan had not seen her wiping her tears.

"Right! And I can see for myself that you are certainly not affected by a fool's plight, particularly when a fool waits for you for an hour and half on a Friday evening, follows you in such rains and gets drenched without worrying about catching cold. You didn’t even offer me your umbrella!! Not even once in all these 5 minutes!"

"You can’t argue with a fool!" Chitra broke into a smile and gestured Rohan to come under the umbrella and he knew that she was not angry with him anymore.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Part 1

Trying in vain to comb back her wavy hair, Chitra looked at her reflection in the mirror. A petite school girl with short hair and cheerful face smiled at her.
"Who will believe that I hold a masters' degree and am working full time?” Chitra wondered.

She had always looked younger than her age. When she was in college, people mistook her to be studying in 8th standard. It used to irritate her then, for she was in a hurry like girls of her age, to grow up fast. But nowadays she enjoyed the fact that her child-like face deducted at least a couple of years from her looks.
"Have a great day sweetheart!" she wished herself and rushed to catch her bus to office. During the 45 mins daily bus ride, if she felt like having a good talk with someone, there were a bunch of regulars who had become her friends. But on days like today, when she was "happy from within", according to her, she chose to keep quiet and just talk to herself.
"TGIF!! Don't know how the week flew by!" Her inaudible monologue went on till she reached her office.

When she reached her floor, she could hear greetings from all around. Since her first day in the office, the ever smiling Chitra used to greet every one on the floor before settling in her cube. This simple action had made her quite popular with people who now were used to her enthusiastic “Good mornings”.

Just as she was filling her water bottle for the day she caught a glimpse of Rohan. The tall, easy-to-smile-at Ron (as he was called by everyone) was 2 years senior to Chitra. For some weird reason which she didn’t remember, Chitra didn’t like Ron's smile. In fact she didn't like this character at all.
"Hi Chi" (Chi as in China) said Rohan.
"Hi ROHAN" Chitra said without a smile and stressing on saying "Rohan" to display her dislike for hearing her name being shortened. That was one more thing Chitra didn’t like about Rohan. "Why does he have to behave friendly with everybody? Why is he trying so hard to be the good guy? Why can’t he just say Chitra? Chitra is already a short name."

Chitra was determined to not let that brief encounter with Rohan to spoil her mood and got back to her work. But the harder she tried to get him out of her thoughts, the more miserably she failed.
They had first met during a training session 8 months ago which Rohan had coordinated for the new joinees. On the first day itself something had gone wrong. Nothing extraordinarily wrong but still strong enough reason for Chitra to become hostile towards Rohan. "MBAs are arrogant, I agree, but more importantly they are technically useless. They don’t spend 2 years to learn but to unlearn what they have learnt." Rohan was giving some of his trademrk gyan to a new joinee after the training session. Chitra was in earshot and thought that Rohan had said that intentionally to insult her as she was the only MBA in her training batch. Rohan had later apologized for his stupid generalization. But the impression was formed. And Chitra, inspite of being a self-confessed bad judge of people and a religious “jumping-to-conclusions" type, decided that Rohan was an absolute moron. Period.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to real people or real incidents or real places is purely unintentional and is figment of your truly’s real rich imagination :-D.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Flash back

Till my 12th standard, summer holidays meant a trip to Amma-Mothe baba's, my grandparents' place. A small village in Karnataka, Secunderapur spelled heaven for us girls.

The countdown for traveling to Secunderapur used to begin much before the annual exams. While studying we used to dream about all the things to do during the summer holidays. Often, Mothe baba used to come to accompany Mom and we three girls to Secunderapur and Dad would come for a couple of days at the end of the vacation to bring us back.

A typical day of our vacation used to start very early in the morning. Secunderapur, like any other tiny village wakes up early. We used to laze in the open living room called “osri” watching cows being milked, calves hopping around... We loved drinking fresh milk (without boiling) and loved making white milk "whiskers".

Amma is the world's best cook (my mom shares this honor with her). She used to ask us of our cravings and used to cook every single meal accordingly. She used to painstakingly prepare our all time-favorites like mudda-bhaji-bhakri, bhisi-belle-bhat, pulao, gulab jamun, shrikhand, kheer, basundi (rabdi) and a whole load of goodies. We were treated like little princesses in the huge red-stoned house, where not a single thing happened against our wishes.

Afternoon was play-time for us. Those were the days when my Mom used to try every trick in the book to get us take those afternoon naps. For us that was waste of vacation time. We used to invent our own games and play endlessly. Even a simple thing like blowing soap bubbles from the terrace would keep us occupied for a day.

Evenings were mostly spent on the terrace eating dahi-bhat (curd rice) out of Amma's hands and waiting for the cattle to come home. While we sang songs, poems and learned new shlokas/bhajans it would be dinner time.

To sleep next to Amma, listening to her bedtime stories used to be one of the star attractions. Usually our discussions of deciding whose turn it was to sleep next to her ended in big fights. Counting the stars in the clear night sky, sleep used to be just a blink away.

The last day of our vacation has never ever gone dry. Clinging on to Amma and Mothe baba like baby monkeys we used to cry our eyes out and our parents used to drag us to the bus. Any by-stander watching the scene would be convinced that we stayed with cruel, heartless foster-parents.

I know I tend to get nostalgic whenever I get a chance but these “memory-breaks” are my coffee-breaks. I can so easily go back anywhere in time and re-live those charming, innocent days, without even getting up from my seat.