“Regional Manager, Welcome home.” Harini’s father, Mr.Krishnan greeted Jana.
“Call him Maapillai (Son-in-law). “ Anu, Her mom nudged her husband, as the four of them sat in the living room.
“Just a few minutes Maapillai. My sister is coming home. Can we wait for them?”Anu asked humbly.
“Sure Aunty.” He smiled at his mom-in-law.
Jana’s in-laws had invited him for a casual dinner. Harini’s parents were aged, yet they were brisk and active.
Her father, Mr.Krishnan, was an entrepreneur who never retired from his job. He visited his office every day.
Her mom did most of the house hold works herself, except for cleaning, washing and maintenance, for which they had people to help them around.
“Chiilu.” Harini heard her Chithi’s voice. That’s how her mom’s sister addressed her.
“Sorry Maapillai, It got late.” Her husband apologized to Jana.
“That is okay, Uncle. How are you doing?” Jana stood up to welcome them.
“We are fine.” her Aunt smiled. “We went to the temple on the way. Here is the prasadham.” Her Aunt continued as she handed over the KumKum to Harini’s mom.
“This is for you.” Her aunt extended her hand to Jana, showing the Thulsi leaves.
Harini turned to her Aunt. “Chithi, I will take it.” She came forward.
Harini’s Aunt stood puzzled. Harini’s mom pulled her sister by her hand. “Did you forget? Maapillai is an atheist.” Harini’s mom muffled.
Her Aunt smiled, hiding the embarrassment. Jana stood calm, shrugging his shoulders.
“Shall we eat?” Harini’s father broke the silence and the stiff air around them.
They sat around the intricately carved rosewood dining table. Harini was happy about how supportive and understanding her parents were.
Jana looked at Harini, who was smiling.
“It is already February 11th. Please bring your parents someday later this month. I will call them up too. Let us have a final round of talk and confirm on the engagement and wedding dates.” Krishnan spoke, as he poured a ladle full of Sambhar on Jana’s plate.
“Sure Uncle. “ He smiled.
They had a great meal together. Her Aunt and Uncle left.
“The food was awesome, Aunt. Thank you! ” Jana smiled as he dried his hands.
“Harini prepared it for you.” Anu looked at her daughter, who stood leaning against the pristine white tiles that covered almost three fourth of the kitchen wall.
“Anything for you, “she whispered into his ears, making sure her mom did not notice and ran to the sofa, to sit beside her dad.
The mom and daughter duo listened to the political and economic topics the men spoke for the next half an hour.
To their relief, the older of the two decided to end the session.
Jana, adjusted his t-shirt, as he stood up to greet his in-laws, before he left.
“I will send him off,” Harini smiled sheepishly as she walked swiftly behind Jana.
She held his hands, as they walked towards the gate.
She raised her chin, to look directly into his eyes. “I love you.” She smiled.
“Love you too.” He brought his face closer to hers. Her eye balls moved rapidly to left and right to look into his left and right eyes alternatively.
“I am so lucky to have you.” He planted to gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Me too.” She rested her head on his left shoulders.
“Even in my wildest dream, I would not have believed that I will Love a guy, talk to my parents about him, and convince them that he is the right one for me. You are the culprit. “Harini pinched him in his arm, as she rested her head on it.
“You changed the obsession I had for arranged marriage. You cleared my mind from the assumption I had about Love marriage. You made me fall for you who, was once an ardent believer of arranged marriage. You made me believe that Love marriage is not a sin, a pure one instead. “She continued.
“Do you still think Arranged marriage is the best?” He asked.
“The answer would have been a ‘Yes’, if I hadn’t met you. Now the answer is ‘No’, for only you showed me how love marriage works. You made me understand, how exactly it feels to fall in love. “She smiled.
“I might have told you about falling in love, but you were the one who made me feel, how it is to stay in love every minute. You made me realize what being in love is and being loved is.” He squeezed her arm. He smiled, looking at her, as he caressed her left cheeks gently. He pulled her closer to him, squishing her right cheeks tight against his arm.
They stood there, the same way until they realized it was better to part, before the elders could remind them to do so.
“Height 5’7’’, well built, looking for an understan..” Kavi caught a glimpse of the matrimony page, which was displayed in Chandani’s system. February 15th, the system showed the date in the right bottom of screen.
Chandani struggled with mouse pointer to minimize the window as swiftly as she could.
It was a cool winter morning. Chandani reached office earlier than usual. It was just 9.30 A.M
“Ahem, Ahem. A matrimonial sight, right in the morning.” Kavi nudged.
“Sshhhh.” Chandani tried to calm her down.
“What is the matter? Are you okay with that guy?” Kavi asked, as she pulled her chair closer to Chandani.
“Why don’t you just stop talking about that?” She made a face.
“I don’t believe in arranged marriages. How can you decide about your life partner in just few minutes of mere blink and miss moments? It has to be nurtured within. My parents won’t understand.” She shook her head.
Chandani looked around. There were few staff. She turned towards the manager’s cabin. It was empty. She brought up the sales report for the previous month in her monitor to escape further scrutiny or questionnaire and checked for the matrimonial site in her mobile.
“Then why do you even look at it?”
“Don’t you think I need a valid reason to reject this profile?” She asked without taking her eyes off her phone.
A couple of floors below, Jana got into the lift and as he saw the metal doors come together, he pressed the number 2.
He inhaled the fragrance of the freshener that was sprayed in the elevator. The strong smell reminded him of the previous night’s incident. He smiled as he recollected.
Jana and Harini were riding back home, after a movie.
“You can’t take it up, when someone cries, Am I Right?” He pulled her leg as they drove back, in his bike, after the movie.
“Why don’t you chuck it?” Harini made a face.
Jana caught her crying, when the heroine’s mom’s cried in the big screen. He had a point to pull her leg for the entire week.
She rested her chin on his scapula. She slid her hand in between his body and arm and reached his t-shirt collar, from behind.
She held the tip of his collar and twisted it. She gently removed the hands-free off his ears and whispered, “I love you.”
He lowered his head, to kiss her hand, while keeping an eye on the road ahead.
“Mmm!!” he inhaled. “New nail polish?” he asked.
“Yes, but you don’t like the smell, do you?”
“No I don’t. “He grinned, adjusting the rear view mirror, to look at her.
“How does it work?” He asked. “I mean you have maids to help you with what to wear and they polish your nails, too?”
He heard a sigh. She slowly withdrew her hand and placed it on her thigh.
That meant she was upset and he knew it.
“I was just trying to understand.” He shrugged his shoulders as he bought the vehicle to a halt. He looked around. It was almost 1.30 A.M. There were none in the avenue that led to her house. She stayed in Bishop Mathias Avenue, one of the most posh areas of the city.
“Hey, Listen, I am sorry.”
“That is ok. You will not know how difficult it is for me, when you try to bring up the financial status as one of the topics. Your dad owns a 2 crore property in Chennai right? So economically speaking, you are not poor. Please don’t make me feel insecure by judging me based on the number of maids I have or the nail polish I use. “She looked at him, as she replied in a low tone.
“I am sorry.” He held her chin. He tried to convince. She got down from the bike, her heels clicking the deserted road.
He stood in front of her, blocking her way. “Look at that.” He pointed the sky. “Moon.” She smiled.
One word answers meant she was upset. According to him, she never lost her temper. Few things put her off. He knew how to bring her out of it.
“Don’t tell me I look like one.” She rolled her eyes.
“No, I mean to say, I would like to be like a moon in your life.”
“Boys are attributed to Sun, aren’t they?”
“Yes, but I don’t like that fact. I do not want to be a sun in your life, diminishing the brightness of all the other things and making me the only light of your life. I want to be like this mild moon, making you enjoy the soothing moon light and also the twinkle of even the tiniest star. I do not want you to miss even the smallest thing, just to have me in your life. Probably I do not know how to word a question, but these weird questions related to your self-care are my silliest way of understanding how comfortable your present life is and what I should do, to make it the same way or even better after marriage.” He looked at her, innocence brimming in his eyes.
“Truce?” he extended his hand.
“Truce.” She smiled and extended her hand. He held her hand, light at first and then pulled it hard, to embrace her into his tight hug.
Jana smiled, as he walked into his office. Jana looked around. Most of the desks were empty. Kavitha and Chandani were there, while Chandani was engrossed into her mobile.
‘Looking for an understanding girl,’ the description was too long for Chandani to read. She scrolled down to the other information. She looked at any hints about the guy’s interest towards working in abroad. She was fully engrossed, when she saw a hand on her desk phone.
“Look at the number; it is a call from Front end Customer care office. It should be a customer query. It is dangerous to leave such calls unattended. “Jana warned as he picked up the receiver to answer the call.
She pressed the power button in her mobile and the screen went blank. She lunged forward in an attempt to touch the receiver, which was already off the hook and was in Jana’s hands.
The look in her eyes became furtive.
“I will be glad to help you with that. Can you please let me know your name so that I can check for you?” Chandani heard him say.
“Chandani I will take this call from my cabin. I need some details. Don’t replace the receiver until I ask you to.” He strode towards his cabin.
Chandani threw a petrified look at Kavi. Kavi shrugged her shoulders. Jana got into his cabin, picked up the intercom and signaled Chandani to replace the receiver.
The rest of the day went gloomy. Chandani wished she could apologize for what happened in the morning. Her bad luck, Jana appeared busy most of the time.
She threw one last look at the manager’s cabin before leaving home. She slowly walked in. he signaled to come in. She saw that he was over phone.
“Just a sec.” He excused himself in the phone as he covered the mouth piece and looked at her.
She stood there shamefaced, twining her fingers awkwardly.
“Anything official?” Jana’s tone surprised her.
‘No’ she shook her head.
“Let us talk tomorrow, Sorry.” He uncovered the mouth piece as he took his phone to his ears again. “Sorry for interruption. That dates back to…” She was able to hear his voice until the door closed completely behind her. She turned again. He was still talking.
It was a casual weekend evening and Harini and Jana were at the shopping mall.
“Did you bring what I asked for?” She asked as she stuffed a heap of corn kernels into her mouth.
“Itch haut.” She fanned her lips gently, trying to tell him that the corn kernels were hot.
Jana smiled as he showed her his mobile.
She grinned at the photograph. The text regional manager was zoomed in. She zoomed in further.
She swiped to the left to find more pictures of his cabin.
“I am a proud girl friend.” She smooched at him. She had demanded him to bring a picture of his office.
“Don’t forget. Your dad owns a company, while I am just an employee.”
“Of course, but this is special, because it is you. You are special.” She looked at him.
“Why don’t you come to my office one day?” He asked, snatching the spoon form her hand to take his share of the corn from her cup.
“I will, but not as your girlfriend. I will walk in someday and give you a surprise!” She spoke as her eyes widened.
She remembered how her dad had discussed about managing a sum of forty lakhs liquid cash, as they were nearing the financial end of the year.
“Why don’t we go and buy a car from Jana’s showroom? It will be a big surprise for him.” She asked her dad for which he nodded.
The sudden vibration brought her back to the present.
“Hold it.” She stuffed the corn cup into Jana’s hands and started digging in her hand bag.
“What are you searching for?” Jana asked as Harini who was rapidly unzipping and zipping the sections of her handbag.
“I am getting a call. My mobile is vibrating.” She spoke hastily, completely lost inside her bag, in an attempt to locate her vibrating mobile.
“There I have.” She grinned as she took out her mobile. “Ouch!” She exclaimed. “It is my Mother-in-law.”
“Put your hands free on.” Jana ordered.
The left ear piece was with Harini, while Jana fitted the right ear piece into his ears. “I need to listen too. I don’t want her to ask you unnecessary questions.” Jana smiled.
The conversation went smooth and usual, with the ladies sticking on to mundane greeting and formal questions.
“Jana’s dad and I are coming home by first week of March, to finalize on your wedding.” They both heard her.
“Ok, Ma. Sure.” Harini smiled, as she spoke through the mouth piece of her hands free.
“Where are you?” The next question popped up.
Jana signaled not to reveal that they were together. She smiled and nodded, but she fumbled to lie. He rotated his hands in air, which she could not decipher.
“Circling?” She muffled. He slammed his head. With his left hand he signaled as if operating a gear and with his right foot, he pretended to apply the brakes.
“Oh.”Harini smiled. She got it.
“I am driving Ma. I am heading back home.” She winked at Jana. He blew a kiss in air.
“Drive safe, dear.” The conversation ended.
“We have got just two weeks.” Harini looked at Jana, for which he smiled. “I don’t know why, but I always have butterflies in stomach whenever our wedding talks come up. I have known you for years and a wedding is not going to change anything in us. I cannot explain why but I am just excited, thrilled, worried and happy, all at the same time, just to think, I am going to be your wife. It is like as though I am going to be a new ‘Me’. It is like as though we are going to be a new ‘Us’. “
“Yes,” he nodded as he moved close to her. “Every morning, I don’t have to look at the mobile for your text. All that I have to look for is this beautiful face, sleeping peacefully beside.” He smiled. She blushed.
“Hey did you see this?” She broke their 40 seconds silence, as she showed him a photograph in her mobile. It was a pink Kanchipuram Silk saree.
“That’s beautiful! Wedding saree?” He asked.
“No. This is for the house warming function- the house my dad is going to gift for our wedding.” He smiled, which was slowly diminishing as his Athai’s voice took over in his mind.
“Beware Jana! Do not comply with all their terms. We are the boy’s side. Aren’t we? They might try to gift you something big. A house or a bigger car than what you own now. They might just say they are doing it for their daughter, but just make sure you don’t fall in their trap of fancy gifts and luxurious life. Do not seclude your parents.”
They do not have such ideas, he wanted to tell his Athai. His words will also be included in the so called ‘You-support-them-too-much’ list. He just nodded and stayed put.
“Hey!” Harini’s voice brought him to the present.
“Good that the house is fully done.” He smiled.
“I just cannot wait to shift there. I have been working closely with the interior decorators. It is just awesome. Even Mom and dad’s room is perfectly finished.” She smiled.
‘Mom and dad’ Jana looked at her, thoughts struck with those words.
“My Dad is just waiting for your Mom and Dad to come home for finalizing the dates. He is planning to take them to the new house as a surprise. He just wanted to make sure they like it too. If any alterations in general or specifically to their room, we can do it before wedding, ” she continued. “I really hope your mom and dad love the house.”
He bit his lip for what he thought about a couple of seconds ago. He knew about Harini. He came to know about his in-laws too. They were sweet and very much concerned about his parents. He had heard it several times from Harini’s mom that Harini should be staying with her in-laws and that is the practice too. He shook his head as if to wither his Athai’s voice or Mom’s assumptions from his mind. He assured himself that neither Harini nor her parents were home-breakers.
He fixed his gaze at her face, who was happily smiling at the lighting effects in the mall.
Jana could still remember the day Harini and his mom met for the first time. It was 3 years ago.
“Bye Harini. Hope you remember what we spoke.” His mom smiled as she waved her hand. Harini straddled the bike as she sat comfortably behind Jana. Jana kick started his bike to drop Harini at her house.
As they started riding, Harini’s hands never came around his waist to hug him. She never missed to do so.
He slowly took her hands and wrapped it around his waist. She took her hand back, in a jiffy.
He sensed something was wrong. As he angled his rear view mirror to look at her, he saw her hands close to her eyes.
He stopped his bike.
“Get down.” He spoke without turning.
Harini rolled her dupatta into a cotton ball to dry her eyes as fast as she could.
“What happened? “ He asked.
“Nothing.” She tried to look away.
He moved closer and touched the corner of her eyes.
“What is this?” He showed his finger tip.
“No, I am not crying.” She withdrew.
“I did not ask ‘Are you crying?’, I am asking ‘Why are you crying?’”
She looked at the coarse tar road beneath her feet. She did not look up.
“My mom would have asked you to call them Mom and Dad instead of Aunt and Uncle. What else did she say?”
She looked up startled.
“I know her. She is very sweet, but very emotional and she assumes a lot. Now tell me what happened?”
Harini hesitated for a moment.
Jana took a deep breath and waited for her to speak up.
“Don’t mistake me.”She began, as she told what was preached to her in the kitchen.
‘I hope you will understand the responsibilities. This is not a modern rich home. You will have loads to learn. Don’t worry I can teach you but I really doubt whether you would learn. Early morning is 6 A.M here and not 9 A.M. You have loads of auspicious dates to remember and the special Pooja to be performed on those days. You have to reduce the usage of your mobile phones. We will have lots of guests. You should greet them with smile, be a great host. Jana does not bring his friends home. So I hope you understand.’ Her mom-in-law patted her in her cheeks gently.
“I am not a rich spoilt brat, Jana.” She blurted out. She broke down.
He walked to her, held her shoulders tight.
“I will make mom understand. I will take care. We will prove her wrong. I am so sorry” He smiled.
“No Jana. It is my responsibility to break all the assumptions, I will try.” She smiled. She looked at him, her smile fading suddenly.
“I have already started to complain right in the first meet. I am worried Jana. Would I make your life miserable? You cannot be mediating in between us, trying to pacify both the sides. Am I going to be a nagging wife?” She looked at him curiously. “The last thing I want to do is to hurt you and trouble you.”
“You can never hurt me; in that case, you can never hurt anybody. You are going to be a wonderful wife. You don’t know how much you love me.” He looked directly into her eyes.
As they drove back, she secured her arms around his waist. He gently placed his arm over hers as he balanced the vehicle in one hand. She entwined her fingers in his’.
Jana made sure his mom realized who Harini was. Initial days were difficult as his mom thought he was biased. He made her understand who Harini was. It was all fine from then.
The loud sound of the song in the mall, brought his thoughts to the present.
Ever since the incident happened, whenever he was with her, he never allowed her to attend his mom’s call by herself. He always wanted to be there for her, protecting her.
‘You are going to be a wonderful wife. You don’t know how much you love me.’ Jana recollected what he spoke.
He slowly turned towards her. She was curiously searching for a corn kernel that hid itself in the folds of her dupatta.
His phone rang.
“Cheese?” Jana asked as he was looking at his mobile.
“Jana, for the third time, I want caramel popcorn.” Harini looked at him puzzled as he was still meddling with this mobile.
“Sure, you don’t want cheese on it?” Jana still looked at his mobile.
There was a sudden silence. When he looked up he saw Harini glaring at him.
“I asked do whether you want cheese flavor.”
“For the fourth time, I want caramel popcorn.” Harini shook her head.
They were there for a movie on a relaxed Sunday evening.
The whole theatre broke into hysterical laughter when the stand-up comedian appeared on the movie for a cameo role. He was Jana’s favorite. As Harini covered her mouth to laugh, she turned towards him to capture his smile. To her disappointment, she saw his serious face, lit by the light from his mobile.
“What happened? You saw that?” She whispered.
“What?” He turned.
“What is with that mobile, Jana. You just missed Chris’s joke.” She looked at him.
“It is just the office thing.” He sighed.
“Oh. I thought you were free today. If you had told me that you had some work, we could have watched this movie some other day.” She held his hand.
He placed his hands on hers and held it tight.
“I am sorry.” He apologized.
“Hey, that is okay. Poor you. Your job doesn’t leave you that easily.” She ran her fingers through his hair strands. “It is going to be alright.” She lowered her voice as she moved closer to him and rested her head on his shoulders.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, as she enjoyed the rest of the movie.
Harini wrapped her hand tight around his toned abdomen as they rode back. He down shifted the gear and slowly released the clutch before resting both his feet on the ground. His bike came to a smooth halt.
She got down and came closer to him, resting her elbows on headlight holder. The metal O-ring felt cold against her skin.
“What?” He asked.
“Get down. Come in. Why do you have to ask this? You usually stop by when you are here to drop me off, right?”
“Hey, yeah, but not today please.” He shrugged his shoulders.
She crooked her eyebrows.
“I mean. Please don’t get me wrong. I am just not in that high spirits to visit your parents.” He placed his hand under his chin and cracked his neck.
“Good night.” He smiled as he kick started his bike.
A curious sensation overwhelmed her. She stood there looking at Jana who disappeared into the murky night.
“Our CIO is visiting us this month.” Sathya’s manager began as he addressed his team. As the manager tried to accommodate the 32 member team in a 15-seater conference room,
Half of the team took the seats comfortable enough to doze off, while the rest stood restlessly wishing that the meeting could end anytime soon.
Sathya could neither listen nor see his manager as he stood in a corner behind a Macho guy. The guy’s 46″ frame blocked his vision and the guy’s husky voice as he flirted with a girl who stood beside, stopped Sathya from hearing what the manager was speaking.
Sathya stood, on his toes, most of the time, with honed ears.
“I would like each group in my team to come up with the reports and a presentation to put forth individual achievements.” The manager was talking as he explained the report format in the meeting room’s white board.
“Sathya.” The manager paused trying to locate him.
“Yes Mr. Venky. I will prepare few slides on my part and hand it over to my lead.” He rolled his shoulders as he adjusted his collar.
“We know what your achievements are. So it is better you collect the data from people and format the presentation.” His manager smirked.
The girl beside the Macho guy chuckled.
Sathya let out a sigh. The team dispersed. As Sathya got back to his seat, he banged his desk in dismay.
“Ji, coming for a break?” Sathya’s team mate stood at his desk.
“If you are going for smoking, then don’t expect my company.”Sathya warned.
“Just for a coffee man.” His team mate shrugged his shoulders.
Sathya stood up from his chair and walked towards the cafeteria.
“When are you going to settle down?” His team mate asked, as they sat with a coffee cup each.
“Searching for a perfect girl for me.” Sathya looked at the sky.
His team mate turned in the direction where Sathya was looking. He took his hands, placed on his forehead and squinted at the bright sky.
“I don’t see a girl there.” His wry humor agitated Sathya extremely.
“I meant a girl would have already born for me. I am just waiting for her. Destiny is powerful. No one can stop it.”
“Through matrimony? I recently heard a news that Cupid is working overtime with Tamil matrimony trying to match beautiful girls’ profile with yours.” His friend mocked.
“I don’t believe in Love marriages.” He snapped.
“No smoking, No love. Man do you even belong to this century?”
“5’4” for a man, bad physique – No, I don’t. I don’t belong to this century. I don’t belong to this work place. I don’t belong to the place where I live. I don’t belong anywhere.”Sathya raised his voice, as he stood up and strode towards the cafeteria door.
“Radha, what happened last thursday?” Her neighbor asked. Radha‘s neighbor Uma made sure Sathya was not there at home before she began.
Radha and Sathya had been to a girl’s house, as the profiles matched in matrimonial site.
“They were very frank. The girl was not satisfied with Sathya’s attitude towards life. It looks like she had told her parents that Sathya was not adroit at enhancing his life. He was not competent enough in work life.” Radha paused. She had tears.
“Can’t imagine how lucid girls are, when it comes to their life partners.” Radha sighed.
“Why didn’t you try for a second child after Sathya? A competitor at home, like an elder or a younger brother would have enhanced his competing abilities. He is so lethargic Radha. Please don’t feel bad that I am complaining about your son. You are more than a neighbor to me; A sister from a different womb. It is a seven year friendship Radha.” Uma looked at Radha, who was just nodding her head as she listened.
“I am just praying, Uma. I even made him wear a topaz ring, suggested by our astrologer. The irony is he lost the ring that is worn for being prudent.” Radha shook her head.
Uma was embarrassed that she brought this topic. Radha was now in tears. Uma held her hands.
“Don’t worry Radha. Everything is going to be okay.” She assured.
The women heard the sound of Sathya’s Scooter.
“Fine then Radha. Let me leave.” Uma got up. Radha accompanied her till the entrance of their house.
“What is with her? They cannot live without knowing the happenings of the adjacent house, is it?” Sathya crooked the brows of his drooping eyes.
“Sathya, she was the one who…”
“She was the one who helped us is getting a house for stay when we needed the most. She was the one who helped us monetarily. For how many more years?” Sathya made a face.
“What is the matter with those reddened eyes?” He asked.
“She was just asking about how it would have been if you had grown up with a brother.”
“So you told her everything?” Sathya mocked.
“No, I just..” Radha dragged.
“Don’t dwell in the past. It just hurts.” Sathya stuffed his socks inside the shoes, placed it on the steel stand and walked inside.
Harini placed the mouse pointer on the ‘Send’ button and she read the e-mail again.
I have attached the presentation I have prepared for the ISO 9001 2015 Quality management verification that’s happening in my dad’s company. Have a look and let me know your thoughts.
I need your inputs on a direct customer relationship perspective on slide 14, 15 and16. I definitely need your help baby .I have left few places empty in those slides. Please read through and let me know what has to be there.
Love you. Muahhh
She smiled as she hit the ‘Send’ button. She sat on her bed, cross legged and placed the laptop on top of few pillows for an easier typing.
It was almost two weeks since they met. Their last meeting was at the theatre.
“How is it going?” Her dad entered her room.
“It is done dad. One of my friends, Rithu, is in banking domain. She is with the IDC Bank. I asked for her suggestions in few places. She did those over phone. “She smiled. Rithu was Harini’s school friend. They were good friends until they left school. Ironically, or as they usually say, it was the physical separation that brought them close and they were now thick pals.
“I have also sent it to Jana. He will work on few things and will send the updated document to me.” She added.
“Harini, I thought you will know it. There are so many classified information in presentation which the other companies should not know.”
“Dad, don’t worry. We don’t sell cars and Jana’s company isn’t our rival.” She smiled.
“Be careful child. If the information leaks, the effects are going to be adverse.” Her dad left her room.
She looked at her mobile. There was no response to her e-mail. Her dad’s words stuck in her brain. She dialed his number just to hear a recorded female voice of the ‘Call waiting’ service. ‘The person you are calling is speaking to someone else. Please hold or call again later.’ Harini sighed.
He should have got a notification that she was trying to call him. She waited for ten long minutes. She sent him a text about the presentation. The single tick mark against her text turned double in five minutes.
‘He must have turned on his data only now. He will reply.’ She thought.
The double tick slowly turned to two blue ticks.
‘Are you there?’, ‘Why didn’t you call me back?’ She wanted to ask.
‘He should be busy. He hasn’t left any of my calls unanswered. If he had been busy at that moment, he would call back once he finds some time.’ She thought. She shook her head. She sent a Good night and kept looking at the screen. She did not get a reply. She was not sure when she fell asleep.
‘Founder and CEO’- The board hung high above her head as she bit her nails. She was seated outside her dad’s office room. The verification panel went on rounds and had just entered her father’s room. They were about to gather in the AV room for the presentation.
‘The presentation is about to begin.’ She sent a text to Jana. It was her seventeenth text since morning, while she never got back one from him. She dialed his number. She could hear the dial tone for fifteen seconds and then the line went dead.
‘Why is he not attending?’ She wondered.
The COO of their company and her father were fast approaching.
“Harini, he made few amendments to some of the slides.” Krishnan pointed to the COO who stood beside.
“Sorry Mohan, I had to put you through this in the last minute.” Harini saw her dad apologizing.
“That is okay. You know it better. Such presentations usually go for several rounds of review, but since this was coming from Ms. Harini, we did not have the initial set of reviews.” The COO added.
Harini accompanied her father, most of the days and hence the top officers and directors of the company knew Harini well.
“Thank you for your understanding and I am so sorry.” She forced a smile through her reddened face. She was confident that Jana would help.
‘If he had responded, I could have avoided this embarrassment.’ She thought.
“Fine, let us go in.” Her dad instructed the COO and the men walked in.
This was a responsibility she could not disavow. She was there until the meeting ended. The verification authorities were to send out an email the next day regarding their approval.
As they headed back home, the father and the daughter discussed most of the evening’s happenings. Her father turned to her, as the signal turned red.
“You discussed this with Jana too. Am I right?” He asked.
“Yes Appa. I just e-mailed him. He actually went through, but he couldn’t find time to add his ideas. They are just squeezing him in his office these days.” She avoided eye-contact as she lied.
His dad nodded as they drove back home.
She could not sleep. It was 11 P.M , when she rolled over from her left side to right.
She took her mobile to text Jana.
“Hi.” She sent her message.
Within a few seconds, there came a casual reply.
“Jana, you there? Hey, I am so happy you are replying.” She replied.
There was no response from him.
“Jana, I have been trying to reach you since last night.”
He saw her text; still she did not receive his reply.
“Jana , I called you this morning. What happened?”
“I was held up,” was his response.
‘Not even a sorry?’ She sighed as she looked at her mobile.
“Wouldn’t you ask me how the ISO verification went on?”
“Why? Would you tell only if I ask you?”
“Right! I should have told it myself. It went well, except for a small thing.”
“What was that?”
“The slides you were supposed to review were corrected in the last minute. That was just a small hiccup.”
“Hmmm.” His somber reply came in. She shook her head. Was something really wrong with him? She wondered.
“Jana, they had to change it in the last minute.”
“Good that they changed.”
“Jana, do you really mean what you are talking?”
“Now, what is that?”
“Jana, I am trying to tell..” She was typing when his text popped up.
“Listen Harini, your dad owns a company. He will never expect an employee from other concern to pitch in and save him during such critical things. He definitely has his men, who can do it for him. Now don’t tell me he was waiting for me to complete it.”
“Jana, I thought ‘WE’ were talking. Why do you have to bring in my dad. Moreover, it is not about him. It is about what I wanted from you. You get it? It is me, Jana.”
“Ok, Sorry. You had huge expectations which I never fulfilled.”
“No, it is not about not fulfilling it. It is about how I had been trying to reach you and talk to you Jana.”
“Oh Yeah. I am so sorry for missing your call and leaving your text unanswered. You will never understand what is going on here.”
“Jana that was what I was trying to ask to right in the beginning. You gave me a vague answer. I thought you were not interested in discussing it further.”
“Harini, I am not as understanding as you are. So what shall I do now? Kiss your feet?”
“I did not mean it.”
“Don’t cut me short.”
“What has gotten into your head Jana?”
“I’m serious, Jana.”
“Me too. Much more than what you can imagine. Good Bye.”
Her hands trembled as she read the last line. She could not think what the last time he had been so rude to her was. Tears welled up.
She rested her head on her pillow, re-reading the entire conversation. She was trying to find what her mistake was. She fell asleep, with her mobile in her hand.
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