Scene: A deserted office with lights on only at the two ends of a corridor
Time: Friday evening, 7.15 pm (explains the”Scene”)
Situation: A lonely intern watching a report being downloaded because the boss had to rush for his golf appointment and could not download it. The intern has nothing better to do than steal Fox candies and eat, make patterns out of colored post-it notes and sing loudly.
Music: None. There is no sound card.
The lonely intern (Let’s call her Neha for now) looks up once again to see if the darned download timer has moved any distance. It says “32% done” and “1 hr 23 mins remaining”.
Great. What a lovely start to the weekend.
All my friends must be wrapping up work while I watch his PDF crawl its way into his machine … the birth pangs all withstanding. Anyway, let me e-mail and check if someone is still slogging away.. if only for sadist pleasure. Huh, e-mail server down.. Well, ok.. Murphy, you win!
Aha! Not really, Murphy, I changed my mind. There is that phone sitting pretty. Let’s dial A (aka The Guy with the Lopsided Grin) and bug him.
A (in his usual at-work accent) : Hello
Neha: Hey! What you upto, man?
A: Busy.. very busy.. the scene for tonight doesn’t look good.
Neha: Huh? So we’re not going anywhere?
A: Well, can’t say… where are you right now anyway?
Neha: Me.. umm.. still at work.
A: This late? On a Friday night? Not typical of you.. (Neha thought she heard a smirk.)
Neha: Yeah, got lots and lots to finish… Anyway, you let me know about tonight ok?
A: Sure. See you!
Return to the dead silence again. Ok, so A is still working. The others must already be dressing up for the parties. The PDF.. 40% done.
Aahh.. how will be it be to make crank calls to A while he is trying to work. No, forget it… He’ll know it’s me.
Hmm… let me catch up on some blogs… “Blog access denied”… I should have guessed! If it’s fun, it’s blocked!
Ha.. what if I tap into my boss’ machine and find something controversial.. Muahahahahah! Nah, not worth the effort.
Then.. then.. she saw it. A glittering crystal Ganesha idol on the boss’ secretary’s desk. Intrigued, she wanted to hold it and see. And, as she extended her hand towards it….
… it shook her hand and a heavy baritone said “Hello, Neha!”
“Ha, too much coffee!!,” thought Neha. It can cause hallucination, she thought laughing at her head’s silly trick and turned back to go and check if the download was still coming through without any of those darned error messages. But, as soon as she turned, the baritone quizzed “Hey, you don’t want to talk?”
How much coffee did I really have today?
Baritone: “Neha!? Come, sit here… The PDF will take a while.”
Wait a minute. This can’t be happening. Suddenly, she felt herself go weak in the knees and collapse into Jennifer’s chair. The air was entering her lungs in gasps, and her mind was taking too much time to process what direction the door was in. But, as soon as she could get up…
Baritone: “Neha, are you scared? Of me? Oh, darling, ofcourse you are.. I haven’t introduced myself, have I?”
Neha (taking two doses of saliva to speak, and still sounding unrecognizable to herself) : “N-n-ot r-r-really”
Baritone: “Hey, I am your friend. The same guy your Mom introduced you to when you were little. Remember? The same friend that you asked for help during exams. The same guy whose photo you carry around in a pocket of your wallet.. Now, come on. I know you don’t remember old friends always… but we have a long history.”
Neha (not missing the sarcasm in the remark and suddenly angry enough to forget about her fear) : Hey, I got it.. You are God. But that still doesn’t mean you can tell me I don’t remember my friends. That’s just unfair… (and then meekly, with the fear back in her heart, regretting her motor-mouth).. isn’t it?
Baritone: Oh sorry! Maybe it was unfair… only if you could introspect and tell me why you never called back Vidi, your best friend from school, after you had a little fight with her? Or Tina, your oldest neighbourhood friend, after she moved elsewhere? Or, Deepti, your college best buddy who you used to share gossip with.. Or…
Neha (suddenly guilty but angrier) : Ok, Ok, I didn’t call them back. You see, I moved on. Life got hectic and new friends came into my life. Hey, I am not the only culprit. They could have called me… But anyways, I don’t hold grudges.. They also must have found new friends. So, it’s only fair.
Baritone: Yeah, it’s fair. We should always break away from our old relationships and make new ones. Right?
Neha : Huh? No, that’s not what I meant.
Baritone : Yeah, I know. You never meant that. You are a good child, and you know your values. Or atleast you did, till you learnt that “Traditional stuff pulls you down, makes you miss the fast lane”? That’s good! It’s good, Neha, uh huh?
Neha : Yes, I believe that. Why? Doesn’t it? You mean to say that all of what we were taught holds in our life today? I think most of it is obsolete.
Baritone : Yes, you are right. But, the underlying reasons for our values are far from obsolete. They are infact very contemporary.
Neha: As in?
Baritone: Hey, is that guard coming here? Give me a moment, and I’ll explain in a little while.
Neha, rushed back to her desk and pretending nothing happened, stared interestedly at the screen.
Guard: Madam, aap kab tak rukenge? Office bandh karna hai.
(To be continued…)