It was 4:30 in the evening he has already finished his work at the office. It was not unusual for him to browse the internet for the last 15 minutes before he packed his bag to go back home. He has been punctual about when he came to office and when he left. there was no changing it. Working in a private firm at a senior executive, he has been punctual about the work and the family. He has been married for seven years to his high school sweetheart and had two daughters.
He has checked his latest portfolio and has seen a decline in his stocks by 7 percent. Undeterred, for this was not a news, he closed the tab and opened another and keyed in google.com with a dexterity of a professional. Having nothing to search in particular he absent-minded keys in his name, and the search results popped up. There was nothing that he has not seen, except for the third result. He clicked on the link since it was particularly interesting. The title read
"Timothy Walters named the next CEO of Coultier Entreprises"
'There has to be a mistake in here.' he thought. He was yet to have an interview with Coultier Enterprises for the post of VP. This is certainly a mistake. The news of him leaving his current company was supposed to be a secret. He was certain that he has not told anyone about this since this was supposed to be confidential. Him being named as the CEO is certainly a rumor, if at all.
The page opened and it was a news article on BBC website. He read it though. It had details about his life that he has not told anyone, for example his pancreatic ulcer which was been called as pancreatic cancer in the article. Amazed with the news he looked at the article again and then to his watch. He checked the date on the article and it said April 7th. He has just realized that the news article was 3 months into the future. He then glanced at the bottom of the page where he found a detailed date. he was wrong all along. he has been looking at an article from one year and 3 months in the future.
A bead of sweat tickled down his temple. 'How the heck is this possible?' worried he pressed the back button of the browser. The Google's result page opened again. The link was still there. Hidden at sixth or seventh position was a link to his facebook profile. He clicked it. The page has nothing out of ordinary except that the work experience said
VP, Coultier Enterprises
CEO, Coultier Enterprises
2009 - Present
"2009 to present? But its only 2004!" he told to himself. He clicked on the photos tab, And then on the list of album. He saw the only album on the albums list named "Personal". He has created this album to share pictures of his daughters with his parents back in Canada from where he had migrated to USA in
1994. But due to his work commitments and that his parents have passed away in a car crash, he never updated the album. he expected to find those three photos that he had uploaded. He clicked on the album and a bunch of photos appeared as tiles on the screen.
He clicked on the first it was the photo of his daughter Sara when she was born. The second one was of Sara when she was 3 years old and when Claire was born. The third was a family photograph with Claire, Sara, himself and his wife Maya. He paused for a while at the picture then moved on to the next one. The next picture was him being facilitated in some sort of award function. Amongst the people seated at the back he could see the current CEO of Coultier, and Matt, his half cousin who is currently with Coultier and has recommended him for the post. He looked at the picture in amusement for a while and then moved on. There were more pictures of the award ceremony, and then some more of him and
his wife and kids at the award ceremony. He hurried past all of them briefly pausing for his eyes to catch a glimpse of each picture. He was not interested. Next came a bunch of picture where he saw himself on a vacation with his family. he recalled the last time he went on vacation. He could vaguely recall his honeymoon to Venice. He looked at the pictures. It looked like his hometown in Ontario Canada. He has never thought of visiting the place. He saw his family playing with snow with his ancestral house in the background. 'They seem happy' he thought. A few pictures later he saw Sara
with a small dog held in her lap. The next picture was Sara and Claire with the dog. This was the first time he noticed that Claire looks like Maya in a lot of ways. He moved on to the next picture. It was a beautiful house in the suburbs. The next picture had Sara, Claire and the Dog with the house in the
background. He realised that he was grinning. He was about to hit the next button when something catches his eyes. It was caption of the picture which says.
Maya would have been so proud.
He frantically looked for more pictures of Maya but in vein. There were picture of him with Sara and Claire, their first day to school, the school event where Sara did her first Belle, the School function where Claire played a role of a small shrub standing in a corner, But none of them had Maya In them. It is this where it hit him. He went back to the Google and typed in
"Timothy Walter's wife Maya"
The first entry was a link to another BBC article with title
"Timothy Walter's , wife Maya died of paralytic stroke in Pasedena, California"
He clicked on the link and read the article. it read
May 22 2008 Pasedina Cal.
Maya Walters, Wife of the Vice President Coultier industries Mr. Timothy Walters died at their residence in the Suburbs of Pasedena California due to a paralytic attack. Mr Walters rushed her to the hospital where she was declared dead.
He couldn't read more. He shutdown his laptop and leaned backwards on his office chair. He could not believe what he has just seen. It was tragic to its end. How much he wanted to know what lies in the future. How much he wished to be the VP of Coultier. How much he has dreamt of having his own house in California.
His mobile beeps and then starts to vibrate. It was a call from Coultier. He looked at the flashing number and unsure.
Fragility of a fickle mind. The love we miss, the pain we hide. The kiss of goodwill, in the mist of dream. The serenity, in prayers, we find. Living of morale. on food for thought, None would guess, the slimy me. Alive in rags, parched and torn, Nocturnal, awake in a broken yatch. The pain unsung, in verses uncouth, we hide behind the etiquette, the veil. The love was lost, in the battle fought, for years, scars won't heal. Wounds did, when the pain subside. The cult beneath the blind, is no better after all. it's the fragility of a fickle mind.
Vartika had moved to Bangalore a couple of months back. She had joined as an apprentice to a renowned musician and was 'almost' living her dream. She loved music or should I say she adore it. It was her life and to some extent mine too, after I met her after ten years. We went to the same school and lived in the same neighborhood for five years before she moved to Mumbai with her parents. It took just a couple of meetings before she had accepted her feelings towards me. I cannot call myself a charmer, but I think it was being myself that had worked, or should I say that we had a undying romance within ourselves that had withstood the test of time. We were happy and so was everything else around us. Everything seemed perfect or may be she made everything look perfect. Most evening that we spent at my place, she would play Jazz on her saxophone and I would hear her, mesmerized. I felt lucky, to have her by my side. She would appreciate the dinner I would fix for her, no matter how horribly bland it was. In short life would seem shorter and sweeter at the same time.
JULY 2011, DELHI
"Your tears don't fall, they crash around me...", the dark room was filled with the track when the lights were thrown on.
"Rahul, what happened?" mom said as she yanked the ear-phone off my ears.
"Nothing Mom." I said as I tried to put my earphone back.
"Beta, I am your mom, what has happened?"
I stopped for a second and put the ear-phones back into my ear. There is something with moms all around the world, they know when you are actually sad and when you need a reassuring touch. I have completed engineering and had a well paying job, which I was about to join in next 3 days so why was I sad?
DEC 2010, BANGALORE
It was the last day of my internship in Thomson Reuters, Sunidhi has told me that she will be leaving the office early today. I wanted her to stay a little late, I knew this is probably the last time I am seeing her. I was going back to college to complete my studies and I was not sure I will ever come to Bangalore again. I decided to walk her off to the bus stop.
"So this is it, right?" I said, I did not know what else to say.
"Yes, I guess so. Actually you know what, I would have gone by myself... I mean you should meet every one in the team." she replied back.
"I think it will be fine, I drop you to the bus stop."
"As you wish."
I had nothing else to say. A voice inside told me not to let her go. Another told me that she is already gone. I wanted to hold her hand and tell her how I feel. I wanted to look into her eyes and tell her to stop. I looked at her, she was calm as ever. Her eyes were as beautiful as ever and her long hair occasionally crossed her face. I realized we were at the bus stop.
"So will you remember me once I am gone." I asked, Something in my head had screamed 'Talk you stupid! This is the last time you are with her.'
"What do you mean?"
I avoided answering the question, as I knew that she was very clear as to what I meant.
I saw her bus coming from a distance, my heart sunk. I felt that the bus has come a little early, probably it was the agony that reflected in my thoughts. I wanted to say something, but couldn't. I looked at her and I was never more helpless than this.
"My bus is here." she said, her sight still fixed at the bus.
She turns to me and for the first time in the day we were looking right into each others eyes. She wore a beautiful smile, which on any other day would have been sufficient to take all my pain and worries away, but for some reason it wasn't enough today.
"Bye." I said.
She boarded the bus and all I could do was turned around and kept walking before tears rolled down my eyes.
OCT 2010, BANGALORE
"Can I sit here?" I asked, as I tried finding a place in the unusually filled office cafeteria.
"Hmmm." came the reply from the girl who was sitting alone on a table for two and was having a home made lunch.
I saw her, her gazed fixed on her spoon. She looked pretty. I have seen her around the office, a few times and frankly, I had a crush on her. When someone has spent 3 years in a college without girls, quite literally, and two years before that, studying, with his butt on a hot plate, to get into some good college, you can't blame him.
"Hi I am Rahul." I set the fruit bowl down and pulled the chair.
"Hmmm." came another short reply.
"I saw you the other day, in the team meeting, I guess you have joined our team rather recently."
"Yes, I have recently joined, actually just two weeks back."
"Oh, that's great, So how do you like the company."
"Hmmm, lets not talk about it." for the first time she has given me a broad grin.
"Okay, I won't, So you from Bangalore?"
"Yes, look I have a meeting, I have to go, will see you around."
I noticed that she has finished her meal. I saw her lunch box, I was of the shape and size of, if not smaller, than the smallest pencil box I have ever taken to school.
"Oh, you done with your lunch?" I asked, my astonishment was quite evident on my face.
She gave a smile, and packed her lunch box and started to leave.
"Hey, I didn't get your name." I asked innocently. I realized she hasn't told me her name.
"You can do a little better than that" came a subtle reply.
For the first time in past many years I have met a girl who was both beautiful and spontaneous.
"Well Sunidhi, let's meet for a coffee then, some place nice."
Yes, I knew her name as when you have a crush on someone the least you can do is to find her name.
"I don't drink coffee." She winked and there was a notorious smile on her lips
"Neither do I, So let's just meet outside the office."
She walked away with a smile and my heart was racing faster than usual. I was happy as asking a pretty girl for a coffee was something which I have heard people classify as 'the most difficult thing to do', especially for an commoner like me.
We added each other on Gtalk and we use to "ping" each other 'good morning' and for lunch. She was quite reserved, she did not have many friends in office. We usually go for the lunch in the cafeteria and I would get amused at the meagerness of the food she would eat. All this time I became a little confused about my feelings for her, we have become friends and I did not want to ruin it.
"So do you have a boyfriend?" I asked hesitantly.
"No, and me no wants also." Sometime I loved the way she used catch phrases.
"I have something to confess." I wanted to do this for a few days now and I thought this was the right time.
"I have a crush on you since the day we first met." I know this was lame, the moment I finished the sentence. And to my amusement I found her, laughing.
"Why you laughing?"
"Okay, Okay, but you do realize that nothing can happen between us, right?" she said trying to control her laughter.
I did not say anything, but she understood that I was sad.
"I am at least 3 year older than you. I will be married soon. It is not gonna work out between us."
I made an eye contact with her, her eyes demanded a response.
"Hmmm, I understand that, Let's just be friends then, at least I will be close to you."
"You are a nice guy Rahul, you will definitely get someone nice."
I wanted to ask 'then why not you?', but stopped.
"I know." I said and winked.
Even though I have decided to be friends with her, it was killing me from inside. My heart told me that she was the one, my mind would say otherwise. We kept going out for lunch and would meet each other during the coffee break.I tried making things as casual as possible between us and things were going pretty normal. Everyday we would meet for lunch or during the coffee break where, she would tell me that her boss is so nice to her(I so much wished if I had a Shot-gun, I would have put a bullet right through his head, Texas style.) and I would share a few jokes with her, which she would classify as PJ's. I wanted to keep things that way, because I wanted to be with her as much as possible and also she looked amazing when she laughed.
Over the time I grew more and more restless and one day I decided to have the 'talk'.
"My internship will be over next month."
"Oh, Great! It was a six months thing right?" she replied looking up from her lunch box.
"Yes, But what about us?"
"What about us, what? Its not like we are going out or something."
She is right, we aren't going out. then why am I so sad? My mind became more and more confused as I thought about it. I thought how I am being irrational. I though more about it in the silence that persisted.
"We should not come for lunch together." I blurted out.
"Why?" Sometime I get amazed at the calmness with which she approaches situations.
"I am not cool with being friends, with you. I have feelings for you and I don't want to subdue them."
"We have discussed this already and I think, its closed. so can you please stop this?" For the first time I seen her frustrated.
I remained silent and waited for her to finished her lunch.
PRESENT DAY, BANGALORE
It was late, way past the regular office hours. I usually left office late in the evening to avoid the horrible Bangalore traffic. Also Vartika was not in the city. Her Jazz group was travelling to Spain to attend Leeds International Jazz Education Conference. I had no reason to be home early. Also i had decided to finish off the week's work early to keep it easy on the next week.
The phone rang. The name along with the picture of the caller flashed on the screen as did my time in Thomson Reuters flashed before my eyes, as if it was the present going in fast forward, really fast.
I decided not to pick up the phone. Why did I do that? I was in love with this girl once. I had cried for her, I never cried for Vartika. "Was that love?"
The phone rang, only this time the phone seemed to ring longer than usual. I looked at the phone again. It was Sunidhi calling again. I felt compelled to answer the phone. Why does it become obligatory to answer a ringing phone? I picked up. voice on the other side seemed familiar.
"How are you?"
"Hmm Good. Listen, I have something to talk to you."
"Okay? About what?"
"Well I am getting engaged."
"Oh congrats!" I had no idea why I did not feel a thing. There was no sinking feeling in the heart, no lump in the throat that I had before picking up the phone. I had sounded almost ecstatic. I felt free, free from the self-imposed exile that was in for past two year.
"Thanks, I thought it will be awkward, but it was simpler." She seemed relaxed as well.
We shared some more pleasantries before we disconnected.
I sat on my chair, reclining. I closed my eyes. Vartika's smiling face appeared before me. And almost as a reflex action, I picked up the phone and dialed Vartika's hotel phone half way across the globe. She picked up after a ring