Neha thought she had her chance to get out of this uncomfortable conversation. But not the one to turn down challenges, she decided to put up a better fight. “Mr. Ganesha, the after-the-break session shall be all mine.”
Donning a confident smile, she turned to the guard and told him, “Aap jaaiye. Ground floor ke guard lock kar denge.” With a very hurried “Acha ji” he left.
Neha, making sure he was out of sight, walked back to Jennifer’s desk. She stood there for a moment, waiting for… errr.. the idol to speak. The thought sounded funny in her head. Hmm, looked like the Mr. all-knowing-and-all-guessing Ganesha had seen her resolve and opted for a truce. A distant glance at the PDF window showed the blue timer just about halfway through.
So, jumping into Jennifer’s chair, Neha decided to enjoy the remnants of the oh-so-yummy chocolate chip cookies Jennifer had got in the morning. But one move towards it, and she felt a not-so-light tap on her hand.. and..
Baritone: No stealing!
Neha (indignant, with her defences (and offences) springing right up) I wasn’t stealing… goddamnit!
Baritone (laughing): Yeah, I damn it!
Neha: What the…??!!
Baritone (now strictly): No swear words!!
Neha (meekly): Oh, sorry! (then, curiously.. but mainly to change the topic) Hmm, were you saying something about our values being contemporary or something?
Baritone: Yes! Good, you remember. I was telling you that your values are rooted in the ideal behaviour of human beings. The values your mother taught you during those Panchtantra Ramayan stories and your dad almost made a boring Sunday ritual for you, make you a loveable person, a trustworthy employee and colleague, a hardworking student, a courageous lady and for you future, a good mother and wife.
Neha: I know .. but now I already am this person. Can’t I move on and be something more this world expects me to be..
Baritone: When you say “something more”, don’t you almost mean “someone else”? Neha, being someone else or trying to be hasn’t helped ever. And didn’t you once promise yourself that you’ll never be anyone else but you. But then, promises have never kept on your To-Remember list too long, have they?
Neha (not willing to take another accusation): Why, I have ALWAYS kept my promises. And I never break them. I never forget them. Because a promise-breaker is a shoemaker. (Just as that slipped off her tongue, she regretted the nursery rhyme outburst)
Baritone: Yes, my little cobbler, you have forgotten. Didn’t you promise Ma something when you came to Bombay.. err, is it Mumbai now.. ?
Neha (suddenly on the defensive): Yes I did, I told her I’ll call after work every day.. or at least every other day.. or at least make sure that I take all their calls… But sometimes I forget, it’s ok.. Ma understands!
Baritone: Yes, Mas always understand. Today’s kids take them for granted so much, they might just rechristen their “mothers” as “understanders.” (Neha thought she actually sounded angry) How do you feel when A does not call you for then entire day and then acts all normal the next day? Or when you wait for your friend’s mail or scrap after you e-mailed them and they do not reply? I bet you understand!
Neha: I didn’t mean that.
Baritone: Ofcourse you didn’t..
Neha: God, I am sorry. I got what you are trying to say. Sometimes, I also feel guilty about these things and then decide to ignore them again. I know it isn’t right, but…
(suddenly, she fel herself choking with tears.. was she crying? She quickly told herself that she doesn’t cry in front of strangers)
Baritone: Neha, now you finally know who I am. I am your heart. The one you ignored sometimes. Well, I thought I’d make an official appointment tonight.
All I wanted to say was that your heart tells you things. Things you think of as after-effects of coffee. You better take a moment, step aside and get your cardiac earphones on. You will always hear the thing that will make you doubt my sanity, but will make you do the right thing. And if you don’t think you did the right thing, you check your ego measurements and you’ll know why you are mixing up the right and the wrong.
Neha: Sure thing. But I am scared that I will again lose the earphones and will need you again. Then what?
Baritone: I’ll know that. (And then he smiled his cute elephant-ish smile).
Neha smiled too.
Baritone: I gotta go, seems like someone else’s egometer shows an incorrect reading! Bye!
And then, Neha walked back home thinking of the freakish incident. And her life. And the changes she planned to make.
That was the night she wrote this post, to remember Him by. The next day was the morning she wrote the post “A Good Day” 🙂