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Slowly she walked towards me in a soft, light pink frock and white stilettos taking one step a time. Silence of the early windy winter morning was broken by the tap of her stilettos on the wet street. Her face was not visible clearly as the mist often blinded my visibility. I wrapped up my body with my arms, making myself warm and snug.
Snow covered peaks of breathtaking Swiss Alps, it’s sliding glaciers and ice blue mountains kissing the clouds lent a picturesque background to this romantic rendezvous. Dew drops rolled down the tip of pine tree leaves and landed on my eyelids, soothing them and making me wink. I saw the sun slowly rise between those mountains. The mist cleared and the first rays of the rising sun lit up her face. She had snow white complexion, but, the seven dwarves were missing. I smiled at my childish thought. The sun rays gave her hair floating in the wind, a golden brown shade. She kept advancing, but alas, again mist drew the curtains to my view.
Mist dissolved into the air and she came close to me. So close and intimate that we were only a heart beat away from each other. Stretching her slender arms, she rested her cute hands gently on my broad shoulders. Slowly she kept sliding her palm feeling the curve of my shoulder and stopped at my spine just below my neck. Carefully she moved her long beautiful fingers, one by one, touching each vertebra at the back of my neck and reached for my hair. Ruffling my hair she smiled at me.
She leaned forward poising herself on the tip of her stilettos and adjusting her height with me. Her face coming very close to mine. I can feel her warm breath, I could sense her heart beat, calm and controlled, unlike my heart rate and pulse rate which were rising. My heart is beating fast producing sound like an old model Royal Enfield bike’s engine. We slowly tilted our faces to our left and right side respectively with eye contact deepening. Her eyes were hypnotizing me and forcing to surrender.
She took a deep breath enjoying my fragrance and queried.
“Body spray? Which brand? ”
“Of course it’s Axe.”
“I should’ve guessed it”, she said.
“Just close your eyes”, she whispered in my ear in a soft and wet voice, stressing each letter and lending a feeling to it.
I obeyed her in submission. I got goose-bumps and felt cold on my eyelids as a mild wind blew caressing us gently. She grasped my hair tightly with her long fingers and pulled my face to her, just inches away from her face. I saw her red lips opening through my half closed eyes. Only a few more seconds left for the big prize. But I didn’t know I was in for a gruesome surprise.
The winter sky became overcast. A thunder storm was brewing up. Heavy wind started blowing, scattering dry leaves, dust and twigs everywhere. Deafening thunder and fearsome lightening discharge set the dried up trees on fire. What I saw next in the blazing inferno background shocked me and dried up my throat. I shuddered with fear at the sight. She no more had almond shape cute eyes. Her eyeballs rolled back revealing it’s pale white true colour minus pupils. Her canine tooth grew into fangs spewing venom. Out of her red lips came the long snake like tongue, that she wagged and licked my face. Blood gushed into her white eyeballs making them fiery red. A frightened me caught hold of the creature’s hands and frantically struggled to get rid of her firm clutch on my hair. A tug of war ensued between the insatiable blood sucking vampire and me. One was to save and the other to sever my blood vessels. But my efforts were in vain. The creature’s fangs were going for my neck vein.
Suddenly from nowhere a dirty, dark brown muscular arm that did not get bath for at least a week, with clenched fist, punched the creature on it’s face just as she was about to bite my neck. I saw her face folded and squeezed, her fangs flew in the air, owing to the strong punch, eventually releasing her clutch on me. All these happened in slow motion, like the video shot by high speed camera. The smelly arm made me faint and fall back. As I was falling back in slow motion, the arm opened it’s clenched fist and sprinkled water on my face.
I woke up from my nightmare with a shrilly yell waking up Ramalingam of room no-211, George of room no-213, Rajesh of room no-214 from their sound sleep and simultaneously scaring my room mate Senthil, owner of the smelly dark brown hairy arm, that was my saviour.
I sat on my bed panting and sweating profusely with my hands adjacent to my hip and firm on the bed.
“Thanks a lot dude. You saved me again. Daily you wake up early with alarm and wait till 9 am to wake me up. Helps me with my Applied Thermodynamics. You lend me your lab uniform when mine is unwashed. Shares your dress, soap, deo with me. I mix my shirts and few undergarments with your’s and unknowingly you wash them for me. And what not? You’ll make a caring, responsible and loving wife in future. Shall I marry you ? Our government has approved certain out of the box relationships and legalized few. But, why can’t you take a shower at least once ? Clean your hands properly and come to save me ? Seriously I am asking you, do you ever take bath? ”
Me revealing some truths, proposing him, changing his gender and doubting his bathing regime ignited his anger. I saw his face going red like a burning charcoal because of his dark complexion and he murmured something. From his lip movement I deciphered they were cuss words.
‘ I shouldn’t have asked him that question.’
“Yes dude. I should take bath early morning, put make up, apply deodorant and wake you up. Thus saving you from those witches, vampires and girls. Just because you are my classmate, bench mate and by bad luck my room mate I am tolerating you. If it was someone else with this kind of behaviour, I would have kicked his butt. On more thing, how dare you think I am unclean? I bathed two days back.”
His powerful punch dialogue virtually kicked my bum and I felt the thud. But his last words justifying his cleanliness made me faint again.
“Every Friday night you go to George’s room and watch horror English movies in his laptop with low volume and lights off to ward off hostel warden. And the onus is on me to wake you up on Saturdays and other week days also. Finally you reach class on time and I get late and fined because of you. Here in hostel you play pranks on others. Keep pulling their legs, disturb them during exam time hiding their textbooks, project books in our room. And there are few stupid guys like you from other batches who assist you for such activities. Oh my god, why did I take room with ‘you’ as room-mate? ”
In our engineering college 3rd year and 4th year students were never put in the same hostel. Since it’s final year, 4th year students had been trying to enjoy college life to the fullest. As only final year memories would be alive some ten years down the line. So they bullied immediate juniors (i.e 3rd year students) and did whatever they could. If they intimidated 1st year and 2nd year students, they might get handcuffed for ragging.
On the contrary, 3rd year students ran into final year guys, because they wanted to settle scores for ragging them during their 1st year and 2nd year. So we had to shift to a separate hostel, a small one, only for 3rd year students. During this shift we were at liberty to select our room mates and we did it with business motives — not out of sentimental feeling to be with close friends before leaving college — like picking guys who were good at certain subjects, aptitude, communication skill etc so that room mates could mutually benefit, hone their skills and subject knowledge to crack interviews during placements in 3rd year. That’s how Senthil and I became room mates. He helped me with Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid mechanics, while I helped him with soft skills, Kinematics of machines and computer aided designing.
Senthil continued complaining. Shoving me, my future wife Ms. Senthil complained,
“I am fed up with you”.
I listened to Senthil in full attention because this verbal downpour had become something like a routine morning prayer since we entered 3rd year of our course, without which my day wouldn’t start. Its duration was exactly ten minutes. And now here were some four minutes left to finish it. Senthil continued the ‘prayer’, not knowing that I had plugged my ears with cotton. Senthil did his morning activities like ironing his shirt, polishing his shoes and arranging the bed at the same time. He was good at multitasking.
Emotionally Senthil said, “And when they come in search of their books, or to complain, you cleverly escape from the scene leaving me alone. It’s my duty to search our grubby room and return their things. You know, always I am at the receiving end. Few of them give vent to their anger on me”.
In between Senthil touched his face with his palm, getting lost in thoughts, indicating few had even tested resistance of his cheeks to slaps. Senthil continued the prayer.
“Either they warn me or use cuss words at me, thinking I am also part of your stupid pranks. Don’t be childish. Try to be serious. We have almost completed our sixth semester and going to final year. This is the time to prepare for placement and plan our final project. Try not to waste our useful time.”
The prayer finally ended with a sermon every time. But I couldn’t stop laughing listening to Senthil’s plight, but somehow hid it behind my fingers and listened to him.
I washed my face, brushed and came back to our Room No-212. While wiping my face with a rough turkey towel yellowish brown with sweat and dust, I received Senthil’s query.
“So which was the movie? What’s the story ?”
‘Stupid fellow, he refrain from movies and criticizes me for watching them and having fun. But every week want’s to know the movie name and explain the story.’
“Twilight”. I replied.
“No wonder, today also vampire paid you a visit in your dream. So who was that female vampire? What happened today? Did you recognize her face? Was it Rita of computer science, Lakshmi of electronics or Helen of IT ? Don’t tell me the face was not clear,as usual.”
‘Idiot, he enjoys listening to what I see in my dream and doesn’t leave me until I tell which girl came in my dream. Later makes fun of me saying I deliberately try to enact scenes from those horror movies in my dream. Which is not true, the film scenes captured in my subconscious mind turn into dreams, that’s all. It just happens’.
We mechanical engineering students considered ourselves the ‘real’ engineers unlike those spectacled ‘circuit’ branch guys (Computer,Electronics,IT) who kept cramming in front of a computer preparing complicated algorithms,confusing circuit diagrams and stupid programs. Because we dealt with cast iron, suction pumps and heavy duty, bulky lathe machines, smithy etc. It required muscle, valour, guts and grit to be a mechanical engineer. We even thought we are descendants of all muscle mythological characters like Hercules, Bheem and many in that league. Because of these heavy machines we always had a drawback.
Since ages our department was starved of female students. So we got glimpse of beautiful and pretty faces only when we attended computer classes in our college’s IT department housed in a majestic building called IT park that flooded our college magazine’s photos of our college. The reason being it’s the only magnificent building in our college, a lame copy of the White House in USA.
Lakshmi, Helen and Rita were the most good looking girls in our college comparatively. So if any one of us irrespective of engineering stream, dreamt of dating or proposing someone from our college, it would be them. This popularly known and accepted fact had made the trio haughty and difficult to be coerced for a date or film.
But this trio and many others could be seen frequently in the cafeteria below the IT park with a few bodyguards like boys, the spectacled obese zombies from ‘circuit’ branches. They were not boyfriends, but living money purses for the trio, ever ready to pay for their expenses. In fact these girls were worse than vampires, they sucked our money throughout the course and killed us finally inviting us as guest for their wedding. We guys used to do ‘reverse engineering’. We used to claim that these circuit branches girls were dying for a date with we ‘all muscle’ boys and we just avoided them. In fact that’s how we consoled ourselves for the loss.
“No Senthil, the vampire was not any one of the duplicate vampires or witches in our college. It was a real one.”
“Same answer always. Why can’t you tell me truth? After all I am helping you with Applied Thermodynamics know? You never tell me. I know you tell others but not to your room mate.” Replied Senthil like a school going kid complaining.
‘Dearest Smell-hell (Senthil), you smelly gutter rat. Now who is the real kid, you or me who have fun with others ?’
Senthil got irritated by my usual reply. And he reminded me something rudely.
“It’s already 10 am. Do you know what is today’s date, it’s 14th.Today we have an interview with Enlight Co. Ltd in IT park by 2 pm. Who knows? Isn’t it? ”
‘Oh God. I forgot. This Smell-hell is right. I have an interview today and I haven’t prepared a thing. Well, let me go and give it a try unprepared. After all I missed the big recruiters Tas, Infs and Wips. Fluid mechanics book ! You culprit. I’ll see that you are sold to paper recyclers or burned.’
Fluid mechanics sounded simple like a free flowing fluid but didn’t for me. It was the toughest subject for me in 5th sem, so tough that the fluid flowed sluggishly in my exam paper. We had total 15 questions and I knew answers for questions except the first 7 and last 8. And those were questions ‘Name?’ and ‘Roll number?’ on the top right corner of my answer sheet.
Picking clue from my gestures with face and pen like a theatre artist, the guy in front of me showed his answers, which he himself knew was wrong and wanted to share with me. I had thought of using a ‘bit’, but didn’t have the courage to try it in semester exams unlike cycle tests. A ‘bit’ was a very small piece of paper like parchment or bust ticket with answers, formulas, equations written in either English or regional language that comes handy during exams. It could be hidden between nails, inside pen cap or anywhere easily. It’s so small, even a microscope may fail in locating it. It’s inscriptions could be read only by the creator.
Thus I just scraped through that subject in the exam which dropped my overall percentage to 72%, thus shattering my dream of a pinstripe suit clad me sitting in an ergonomically designed revolving chair, with an Apple laptop on the glass table, giving orders over smart phone to juniors, sipping Pepsi in a glass walled office facing New York city. Because only guys with 75% and above were allowed to attend those cream companies Tas, Infs and Wips. Not just circuit branches, but all other branch students were allowed to sit for interview by these biggies.
I noticed that few of my classmates changed their behavior after they got placed in these companies. Started walking straight in slow motion,wearing spectacles, talking big things, discussing world issues and so on. Like they were possessed by the wrath of CEOs of those firms. Not knowing they are recruited to get bulldozed for long hours late night. After these IT firms none came for recruitment in our 5th semester except Enlight Co.Ltd for post of Graduate Engineer Trainee, Industrial marketing.
With two buckets full of clothes soaked in washing powder I made my way to the bathroom. While entering the bathroom I turned back to see a small crowd in front of my room. Senthil was in the midst of a chakravyuha created by George, Ramalingam and Rajesh. They came to enquire who disturbed their sound sleep with a howl from our room, I or Senthil. I saw tall, six pack Rajesh grasping Senthil’s neck and Senthil trying hard to appease them. I giggled seeing that. But as Senthil pointed to the bathroom, I quickly got inside and bolted the door.
We reached IT park by 2pm dressed in crisp, ironed light coloured full sleeves shirts and dark pants with tie. All assembled in the lecture hall for the initial screening test before interview. The test was for half an hour. All the 20 questions with multiple choice answers were so tough that we could not make head or tail of it. After attempting few questions we looked at each other in unison with dilated eyes and decided to spend the next half an hour day dreaming. I spent the time looking into other’s papers, yawning and rotating my ball point pen between my index finger and middle finger waiting desperately for clock to show 2.30pm. But I noticed a tall obese spectacled man sitting in the centre of lecture hall closely watching all of us.
The exam got over and we waited for the results in the cafeteria below IT park having snacks. We joked about our facial expressions on seeing the tough paper and how we spent that half an hour. Few minutes later the tomboyish girl Chitra of civil engineering came running.
“Hey guys, they have short listed six people for the personal cum technical interview which will start by 3.30pm. The list is on the notice board. Come let’s go and see”, she said.
“For what purpose Chits ? “ I asked. That’s how we called her lovingly. Because she was the only girl who dared to make friendship with us.
“Anyway our names won’t be there. You know well how tough it was. We are planning to go for a movie that starts by 4 pm. Hope you don’t mind joining us for the film ? Watching movie in theatre without a female friend is always, only partially entertaining.”
“Sure I’ll join you guys, but let us just see who all got selected. What if we have a chance to save money on tickets for few of us in the group? “ She joked.
We were shocked to see the names of those six people. The list had Chokalingam, Chitra, Smell-hell (Senthil), Rajesh, George and ‘me’. Our other friends smiled and gave high five to each other, because now they can save money on our tickets.
‘How can it happen? No, this can’t be true. Something’s wrong somewhere. Even by fluke I wouldn’t have got selected. Because I know how I answered those questions. Whatever it is, I’ll attend the interview. After all it will be an experience, to know and realize how far ‘I don’t know’ my engineering subjects.’
We waited with our resume and certificates in white, blue and red plastic folders outside the spacious interview room used for yoga and meditation classes, at the topmost floor of the IT park. It was Chokaingam’s turn first. The peon called his name and Choku went inside. Chokalingam was the most intelligent guy of our batch, a book worm and good at mugging definitions, equations and formulas. But he did not manage to score 75% and missed the IT firms. I firmly believe Fluid mechanics cheated him also. Sometimes God is so cruel and enjoys kill joy.
After 20 minutes Chokalingam (Choku) came outside tired, as if beaten up and Choku looked choked.
“What happened? How was the interview? “ We five queried together.
“The technical interview was fine. They asked almost all formulas and definition of all our past 3 year engineering textbooks. But the personal interview (PI) was horrible. They made me prove that I am not fit for any job. They grilled me.”
All of us were tensed to hear Choku’s plight. But got the technical questions they asked him and hurriedly searched the index of our textbooks we carried with us, for the answers. We five searched the textbooks together and finally ended up wasting our time without getting the answers.
Next was Chitra’s turn. She went inside without fear and bold enough to take on the interviewers.
Ten minutes later she returned smiling and seemed very happy.
“What about you Chitra? Same as Choku’s plight ?”
“Well similar to what Chokalingam experienced. But…but they molested me.” She said looking down and smile faded from her cute face. Her reply shocked us all.
“What the hell are you talking? Are they from our country’s capital state? We must report this. How dare they do this to a student? We must sue those @#% %@#.”
I wanted to lift her face by her shoe sole shaped chin with my index finger and wipe her tears softly. By the time I thought this, Chitra the tomboy raised her face and burst into laughter.
“Hey, I’ll kick you. Playing tricks with us? Tell us what happened actually?”
“They did molest me virtually. I felt like that because of their tough and killing questions in PI. It was a stress interview. The technical questions were ok. Somehow I managed.”
George, Rajesh and Senthil, all had similar bitter experiences in the interview. But Senthil’s reply to my query about his experience had me in splits.
“If a female vampire attacked you early morning today. I got attacked by a male vampire inside that room. That bloody interviewer sucked my blood. Wish you all the best dude.”
“See I told you know we are made for each other. We even experience similar situations on the same day. Now are you convinced that we are the best people to get married to each other?”
Already Senthil got pissed off in the interview few minutes earlier and now my proposal for the second time in the day was more than he could digest. Senthil fumed with anger and walked away angrily. Actually I did not want to make fun of my room mate. I wanted to cool myself with a joke because next was my turn. I was afraid and nervous listening to other’s experience. But from seniors and sirs I had learnt that interviewers often spent less time with the last few candidates to be interviewed, as they too get tired. So hoping for the best I got ready.
The attender called my name and I walked to the interview room’s door panting. I wiped the sweat dripping down my temples with my handkerchief. I opened the door slowly and peeped inside.
“Excuse me sir, please may I come in.”
“Yes, come in.”
Holding my folder close to my hip in my left hand and mustering courage I walked confidently with my head high, spine erect and wearing a plastic smile. Any intelligent interviewer would easily find out that I was trying to conceal my fear behind the smile. So did they.
“Take your seat.”
I sat before them on the hot seat and calmed down. For few seconds I studied the two interviewers or better say Chitra’s molesters and Senthil’s vampires. One of them was a serious looking, obese, tall guy with spectacles and sly eyes behind them. He had bulging face, like he got elephantiasis on ‘face’. He resembled a WWF wrestler. Suddenly I recalled the screening test scene in the lecture hall. Yes, this obese guy was there in the lecture hall.On the contrary the other person was lean and short, a skeletal figure with a sinister smile. Both of them evoked laughter in me, since they looked like Laurel and Hardy.
“Hai I’m Bhanu and he is B.R.Choudhary.” Said the obese guy and both of them shook hands with me.
“So you are Prithviraj, 3rd year mechanical engineering student?”
“Are you tensed Prithvi?”
“No, sir.” I lied and felt a lump in my throat.
“Then why the hell you dirtied my hands with your stinking sweat? “ Saying this he wiped his hands with his kerchief.
I became nervous and looked at both of them one by one, but they did not give me eye contact.
“It’ll be a one to one interview or rather discussion with both of us for next 20 to 30 minutes, while Mr.Choudhary will go through your certificates and resume. Give it to him.”
I placed the folder on my lap and started taking out the resume and certificates.
“No don’t waste our time. Just hand over the folder to Mr.Choudhary.”
I obeyed him and gave the folder to Mr. Choudhary. He received the folder and smiled at me wryly. To me the smile implied, “Get ready to be devoured.”
“What’s your expectation about this interview?”
“Well, sir. I think I’ll be queried about my technical knowledge, project and about myself. My expectation about the job is….”
Before I finished explaining my ‘expectation’, he interfered by showing me a ‘stop’ with his right palm.
“Did I ask you what you expect about the job? Just answer to the question, okay. Don’t expect me to ask the technical questions you learned for the first time from the textbooks, outside this interview hall minutes back.”
‘Oh god, how did he come to know about this? Is there a CCTV camera in this hall, no it’s not there? Or through telepathy?
“Sorry sir, okay sir.”
“I got pissed off by your friends. None of them know the subject properly and their confidence is zero. Except for that girl Chitra who convinced me to some extent.”
‘No wonder Chitra said she felt like ‘that’. This @%#@ was admiring her beauty and not interviewing her.’
“Do you think you can fare better than your friends ? ”
I recalled the words of the soft skills trainer during our training session last semester.
’”When you feel it’s going to be a stress interview. Never let them know that you are doubtful about an answer. Answer boldly.”
I wanted to say “I’ll try” but I said “Yes sir” boldly to Mr.Bhanu.
“Now that’s a confident reply. Let us see.”
‘Oh God, what have I done? I’ve invited trouble. Now he’ll start firing questions at me. God please help me.’
“Do you know the real Prithviraj? King Prithviraj Chauhan and his famous love story? So do you have a girlfriend Prithvi ? ”
‘What? Won’t you ask the usual questions tell about yourself etc.’
For the first time in my life so far I cursed my beautiful and majestic name.
“No sir. We don’t have female students in our class.”
“Who said that girlfriend should be from your class? Is there any criterion like that? There are so many girls from other classes. Why didn’t you try them? “
“Sir, but..”.I got confused and didn’t know what to answer.
“Sir, I think I don’t have the courage to propose a girl.”
“Why? Aren’t you manly enough to propose? Or Once bitten twice shy ? Shame on you.”
He was trying to subdue me and test my patience. But I didn’t want to lose this game of questions. I talked to my mind.
‘Anyway It’s a stress interview. This guy will try to hurt my ego. Then why the hell should I be afraid? He is going to ask stupid, hurting and intelligent questions. I’ll try to give an answer for all the queries boldly, even if it’s wrong. No I will not repeat what my friends did, that is get afraid and be a silent listener to this bashing. Dear friends I’ll avenge you guys.’
“Sir, I do have friends who are females. But what I wanted to imply was that I don’t have an affair with anyone. Also I am not the kind of guy who goes and proposes any girl just like that. After all sir I believe proposing a girl is not a yardstick to judge a guy’s manliness. But it’s braveness and accomplishments. And I don’t feel ashamed sir.” I said boldly.
Meanwhile Mr.Chaudhary who was tightly scanning my certificates and resume passed on a copy of my CV to Mr.Bhanu. Both of them did not seem like listening to my reply. But I knew Mr.Bhanu heard me clearly.
“So Prithvi were you saying something? But I felt you were shouting at me? Do you do the same with your lecturers also ? ”
” No, sir.I was not shouting at you. I was just replying to your question.”
“You were shouting !!! How dare you raise your voice against me ? Don’t you have manners ? ”
Shouted Mr.Bhanu banging the table with his heavy right hand, his Rado watch hitting the table hard producing a metallic sound. To me his shouting resembled a circus elephant trumpeting, for his huge size. The bang woke up Laurel aka Mr.Choudhary who was having a short nap. The bang stopped my heartbeat for a second and frightened me. But I tried to keep cool with a smile on my face. And I wished his Rado watch broke.
“Why the hell are you laughing? Do we look like comedians to you? See, I can make sure that you don’t stand a chance to attend any company for placements after this, in case you don’t get selected in this interview?.Do you want me to do that? ”
“But sir, why should I laugh at you sir. Please don’t misunderstand me. I was just being cheerful. Because I know very well that I did not shout, maybe my boldness was mistaken for shouting. And I may not have to attend other company’s for placement. Because I feel that I may get this job.”
‘Oh, that was too much of overconfidence. I shoudn’t have said that. Sometimes overconfidence is misinterpreted as arrogance.’
“So much arrogance? Who the bloody hell are you to say I was mistaken? This is not expected from a student from this prestigious college. You are a disgrace to this college and to your parents. Shame on them for having an ill mannered son like you. Jacka*s students like you should get rusticated.”
This was more than I can take. He went overboard and dared to touch my parents. I wanted to go ahead and punch him right on his table tennis ball shaped nose. But I controlled myself and looked at him casually. As if nothing happened.
‘You @&%@….No, never will I succumb to this man’s torture. Let him maul, bite, kill, do whatever he wants. But I will not change my stand and say sorry. Why should I be sorry? When I am correct. I’ll fight him with non-violence and peace. Because I don’t want his family to see him back with a broken, bleeding nose and swollen black eyes.
The smiling photo of Father of our nation hanging on the wall behind both of them made me decide to follow non violence.
In low, calm and composed voice I said, “Please don’t misunderstand me sir. I am not being arrogant nor am I trying to prove you are wrong, sir. I did not mean to hurt you by my reply.”
“Did I ask you to justify what you said ? Did I ?”
Bhanu’s eyes turned red with anger and he was fuming like a volcano about to erupt. I saw red vapours around me. His anger made my blood vaporous. He reminded me the vampire who came in the morning.
‘Oh original vampire. You would’ve killed me with just a bite. But this obese duplicate vampire is sucking my blood with out biting and giving me pain mentally. You were far better.’
Furious Bhanu tore my resume into pieces and threw them on my face like my first crush in plus two did with my first love letter. My heart broke, but I remained serious, controlling my tears and careful not to shed a drop.
With great difficulty Bhanu got up from his seat balancing his tummy and revealing Adolf Hitler’s framed photo hanging on the wall. The photo appeared symbolic to me. He walked to and fro by the table’s side, lighting a cigar, taking few consecutive puffs and smoking like a chimney. Slowly he walked to the back of my seat. From back he clutched my seat, bent forward and brought his face near to my neck.
‘My God, is it dream or reality. Will he bite my neck? Senthil, my saviour, where is your dark brown smelly arm? Save me Senthil.’
He gently blew the nauseating tobacco filled smoke at the back of my right ear. The smoke slowly pervaded to my right eye and cheek. It irritated my eyes.
‘Senthil, your dark brown arm smelled better than this sh*t.’
Mr.Bhanu whispered in my ear.”Are you frightened Prithvi? “.
The eerie coldness of his deep voice made me tremble. I gulped down a big drop of saliva into my stomach.
Controlling fear, frustration and tears I answered him.”Err..No…Sir.”
Mr. Bhanu got back to his seat. All this time Mr. Choudhary remained deaf and blind to what was happening around and kept reading my resume and certificates keenly. I wondered what was there in it to read for twenty five minutes.
Mr.Bhanu finished the cigar and came back to his seat.
“So Prithiviraj, you have proved me that you have no manners and respect for elders. But can you give right answers to some technical questions.”
With head held high and unperturbed look I replied, “Okay sir. Please go ahead.”
I said with an artificial confident smile.
“What is the third law of Thermodynamics ?”
‘Oh my god. No wonder Paramesharan sir used to ask us to concentrate on basics, instead of tough definitions and formulas. Senthil, you helped me with Thermodynamics problems but not the basics. Hell with you.’
Though it took me few minutes I recollected the answer from my memory archives and answered.
“Okay, why taking time to answer ? Are you tensed ?”
“Tell me which are the various types of flow of fluid in fluid mechanics.”
‘Damn it. Again Fluid mechanics. This subject has become my villain.’
With great difficulty I answered the question correctly. The interview continued for five minutes more with two or three questions from summer project and it ended abruptly. Both of them were discussing something and they kept my file with certificates on the table. Ten more minutes passed by and they did not talk to me. I was sitting there confused, not knowing what to do and waiting for them to close the interrogation.
“Yes, Prithviraj. Are you waiting for something ? Do you have anything to say?”
“Then why the hell are you sitting here. Get lost.” Said Mr.Bhanu.
“Thank you sir for your valuable time and giving me an opportunity to get interviewed by you both. It’s my pleasure (actually ‘pressure’) to have spent some time with you.”
While I was about to leave, Mr Bhanu asked, “Hey give me your roll no. I need to meet your Head of the department.”
Hiding my fear I gave him my roll no.
‘You are doomed Prithvi. He’ll surely blot your conduct certificate.’
Three days later.
I reached our department early and making Senthil late, as usual. I saw few students crowding in front of the blackboard that displayed important announcements and details of latest placements in campus interviews. This blackboard actually sowed the seeds of jealousy and inferiority complex in us. It was high time it got crushed. I was shocked to see what’s written on it.
One year passed by.
The training for Graduate engineer Trainees got over by 6pm and we fifteen students from various colleges were waiting for our posting orders and to meet the Business head-Industrial marketing. To my horror I saw the person who stepped into our room. It was Mr. Bhanu.
The last time I met him was during that horrible interview in college, which still I don’t’ know how I cracked and got placed. And that time I did not know what his designation was. The meeting got over and we all were leaving for our hotel rooms. But Mr.Bhanu asked me alone to stay back.
“So how do you feel Prithvi? Hope the training was good ? ”
“You might be wondering how you got selected ? You see what I liked in you is your confidence level. The written test was too tough and only about ten questions can be answered correctly on an average. Your friends were breaking their heads while you just answered what you know and enjoyed the balance time. You topped the test. In the interview I almost killed you psychologically, trying to intimidate you and make you lose your cool. But you remained unperturbed. You did get tensed but you kept cool and handled the situation well, unlike your friends who broke down and some even started crying when I just scratched their ego.
You people are recruited for Industrial marketing of boilers, traction equipments, machines and construction equipments etc., which you know from the training. Marketing involves adverse situations, convincing difficult, irate people, meetings, discussions and tender participation. So this job requires smartness, confidence and boldness.Also ability to handle tough circumstances with ease And you fit the slot well. The certificates showed us you are good in extra curricular activities. We look for communication skill and performance first. Technical knowledge comes later, though it’s important. You also had a decent percentage and above average track record. After all percentage and marks are just numbers, not indication of true talent.”
“Thanks a lot sir.”
I felt sorry was cursing and abusing him in my mind. He patted my right shoulder and gave me a firm handshake.
“Wish you all the best Prithvi.”
Thus started a strong professional and personal relationship and bonding between me and my future mentor, Mr. Bhanu aka vampire with a heart.