4 people, 3 incidents , 2 romantic duos, 1 tale – Love, Life and the In-between.
She rested her chin on his scapula. She slid her hand into the gap in between his body and the left arm and reached for 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 unsecured 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 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.
‘MERC’- the letters, denoting the brand name of the famous automobile company, shone bright against the murky glass walls, as the dusk was falling rapidly.
“Excuse me, Sir. I will be back.” She trod towards the door which was ajar.
‘Jannarthan.S’ a small black board, which had golden inscription of his name on it, told the world what his name was.
‘Regional Manager – South Chennai’, the next set of inscriptions on the same board, a line below, in smaller fonts, told who he was.
“Boss.” She entered.
Every time she entered his room, the excellence awards that adjourned his walls in the form of certificates and decorated his tables in the form of mementos, did not fail to take her by awe.
He had an amazing professional career, she thought.
Jana looked up, shifting his gaze from the monitor to a young, beautiful girl, in her white and black formal attire. She twined her fingers vigorously.
“Jana, The M10 Ridz… ,“ she dragged as she pointed her thumb to a group of people outside his room.
“Oh My.” He sighed.
“I am so sorry Jana. If I make them buy the car, my target for this month will be achieved. If not, I am going to miss the incentive just by one car.”
He looked at her and tapped his finger tips on the mouse pad.
“I will be there in a while.” He gave a convincing nod. Jana looked around. The car showroom was busy with customers, who were there for various reasons; a new purchase or an inquiry or just a casual visit to look at the cars.
As Chandani passed on few glasses of juice to her customers, she saw Jana approaching.
“Hello Mr.Sridhar. Glad to hear about your interest in the M10 Ridz of our ‘Merc’ make. We are so much pleased. Did you happen to see the interiors completely?” Jana’s warm voice filled the atmosphere.
‘This guy has got talent. He is so convincing. His voice. Oh My God.’ Chandani thought.
“That was what we were talking to your sales person, about,” another man in his late forties intruded.
“What is it, Sir?” Jana asked, ignoring his mobile which vibrated in his pocket.
“We were assured a complimentary car mat and new seat covers, apart from those that come with the vehicle. Where are they now? The complements we are getting here are lesser when compared to what the other companies offer.” Jana’s customers uttered the mundane dialogue.
“I am extremely sorry, Sir. To be honest, she is a newbie here and not very familiar about the procedures. We don’t assure for complimentary gifts in one go. We generally start with the music system and a show piece item for your car and if the customers negotiate further, we go in for giving the car mat and seat covers too. In your case, Chandani accepted for a complementary music system, a show piece for your car and a 2% reduction in down payment, all at one go, which we generally don’t do. We reveal the offers one by one to the customers, so that we can attract them more. She was not aware of the procedures. That is all we can do from our end Sir. If you want anything more, we have to pay it from our pockets only.” Jana sounded genuine.
His customers exchanged looks. Jana heard the sound of the muffled voices of his customers. He looked at Chandani who stood debilitated for putting her manager through this.
“Ok, can you please arrange for the Loan procedures?” Sridhar asked.
Jana was pleased that the deal was complete.
“Sure, Sir. Chandani will guide you through it.” He smiled at his customers as he turned towards Chandani. “Check with Mr. Murali. If he is available now, please get the procedures completed right away, else, please get the formed filled up from Mr. Sridhar. We will hand it over to them once they are here for taking the car.” Jana gave her the series of instructions.
He stood up to leave to his cabin. He shook hands with Sridhar, smiled and left.
Thirty minutes later, as Chandani saw Sridhar and his family, leaving the showroom, she sat at her desk.
“Umm.” She closed her eyes.
“What happened?” Kavi asked. Kavi was her colleague.
“It was so hard to convince them. Big Boss had to step in.” Chandani shook her head.
“Once he pitches in, he sets everything straight.” Kavi smiled.
“No wonder he is a regional manager at 26 years, just a year elder to me.” Chandani smiled.
“Smart guy, staggering salary and top of all, a beautiful girl friend. Ah! What more a guy needs,” she continued.
“Girl friend?” Kavi asked.
“Yes, I have noticed his mobile wallpaper.” Chandani grinned.
As he closed the statistics sheet, he remembered about the call he missed. He struggled to take his mobile from his trouser pocket, which was always a grappling hook for his mobile.
There were 1 missed call and 2 messages.
She never called him twice. If he does not pick up the first, she waits until he calls back.
He looked at the time. It was five minutes past eight.
“Oh Crap!” the words slipped off involuntarily.
‘No S or F or C four letter word.’ Her voice echoed. She never encouraged him to lose his temper. Neither did her.
He packed his things and took two steps at a time. He turned his car on, as his music player resumed his favorite song.
‘And all my soul needs is all Your love
To cover me, so all the world will see… ‘
The song echoed within the car, reminding him more about his lady love. He moved his car forward, while his mind rewound his halcyon days.
It was during the last day of their college they spoke for the first time, which paved them a way into that beautiful relationship.
She was always with her group of friends or at least that was how she was, from the day he started noting her.
Her facial features like those unruffled waters of the clear ocean, her unblemished smile and her exemplary behavior attracted him and made him fall for her during the third year of the college.
Like most of those frisky youth, he never split a bean due to the fear of rejection.
A year rolled by and on the last day, he sat alone, wondering whether he would get a chance to meet her and let her know what he felt about her.
Like one of those magical moments, she walked alone into the class to take her bag. He looked around. Her group of friends, or at least the geek – Sujitha was missing. His heart beat doubled its usual rate. He looked around, trying to find a reason to talk to her.
That was their first meet, he cannot jump from nowhere and tell her that she was beautiful and he was in love with her. The Slam book, which his friend, Sriram, had filled for him, was laid under his desk. He smiled, as if an idea flooded his brain.
“Hey.” He called, waiting for her to look up.
“Hey, Jannarthan.“ She smiled.
He looked at her, his lips automatically curling up.
“Can you fill this up for me?” He extended his slam book.
“Sure, with pleasure, but..,” lines of confusion appeared on the impeccable skin of her forehead.
He took a deep breath.
“Don’t worry. We will meet someday and I will get it from you.” He smiled. He tore the pages in which his friends had filled.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“I can never believe those guys.” He grinned. She smiled.
“Your mobile number?” He asked, mustering some strength.
She looked puzzled.
“Nothing, I thought I could remind about this book.” He looked into her eyes.
She tilted her head, suppressing a smile.
“Sure, note it down.” She smiled.
“Thanks, Thanks. Thank you so much! ”He exclaimed.
She looked at him, widening her eyes. She took the book from him and walked out of the class.
He stood there punching the air with his fist. He made his first move.
That was the most important day of his life.
His life then took smooth turns, taking him on a high road, both, personally and professionally. She accepted his love for her, after six months of endless chatting and sporadic meeting. He believed she transformed the frivolous flapper to a focused professional.
She was a girl beyond compare, an epitome of patience and understanding; a person who never called again, when the first call was missed; who expected nothing from him, except his time; The daughter of an entrepreneur, preferring to ride in his bike, just to hug him tight, as the breeze hits her face; a person who sponsored every outing they dated together, except for the previous dinner. The fight they had recently was when he tried to take out his card on the above mentioned night, to pay for their food.
She was the one who loved him, just loved him, and loved him more and more.
While most of the men believed such women were extinct, he was blessed to have one, whom he was about to meet in the few minutes and whom he was about to marry in few months.
As he entered the hotel, he saw her waiting for him. She tapped the table with her fingertips, the wait, having stolen one hour of her time.
She was still looking at the other entrance, waiting for his hands to push them and reveal his six feet frame.
She pressed her index finger against the finger print sensor, to unlock her mobile. As she tried to read the time from the display, she felt her vision was blocked. In a fraction of second, it was all dark around.
“Happy Birthday Hariniiiiiiiiiiiiii…!!!!!!!!!!” Jana’s voice filled her ears and his hot breath hit her nape.
She raised her elbows off the arm rest to bring her hands close to her body, as his hot breath stimulated chill shivers down her spine.
She turned her head now being able to see, as he lowered his hands. She got a full vision of her Jana, her brows narrowing in anger.
“What is it?”
“I am sorry, I was so stuck up in traffic….,” she raised her hands to stop him. He took the chair and drew it closer to the table.
“I meant this.” She showed him a box, its wrapper neatly torn, to reveal its content.
“Gift.” He grinned.
“I told no gifts.” She crooked her brows tilting her head.
“Hey, birthdays are not complete without gifts, especially for someone who is special, so special.” He looked at her.
“Your presence completes my day. You complete me. What more do I need?” She placed her hands on his’.
They looked at each other for thirty seconds, when his apology intruded the prevailing silence.
“I am so sorry; it took so long for me to reach here.”
“That’s ok dear. I understand. There is no need for an apology or a justification.” She smiled.
“I am blessed to have a better half like you, coping up with this annoying fellow for more than five years.” He fixed his gaze on her eyes. He was not sure how long he looked at her.
“Hey. What are you thinking about?” Her voice brought him to the present.
“Nothing. Just you. I am so happy that you walked into the class that day, just to walk into my life and to leave the footprints forever.”
She raised from her chair a little, to tweak the tip of his nose gently. He brushed away her finger, just to entwine his with hers. She pulled away her fingers, to tuck her hair behind her ears.
“The waiter is coming to take the order.” She blushed.
“Are you sure there is one at the end of this street?” He raised his voice, just to make himself audible.
“Yes Sathya. I saw a two-wheeler repair shop there.” Radha assured.
Sathya changed from his formals to a t-shirt and tracks.
“Hell with this Scooter.” He gritted his teeth. His scooter, which he had owned for the past 10 years, which even survived an accident few years ago, was now starting to trouble him more. Yet another time, it failed to start even after a filled up Petrol tank, several kicks and a couple of tilts.
“Calm down.” She advised.
“Don’t you see? I was almost ready. I had to change to my casuals again to get this stupid vehicle repaired. I don’t have time to take the public transport or money to get a private taxi.”
“A new bike…,” Radha dragged.
“As if I have loads of money for the down payment,” he snapped.
“Why do you have to shout at me, Sathya?. I know you have been paying an annual sum of Rupees ten thousand to that useless gym.” Radha protested.
“That money is for this.” He jiggled his flabby arms. He looked at his ‘almost there’ flat tummy, except for a small fat bump. “Spot reduction is difficult Sir, continue this cardio for four times a week. We will see a change.” His instructor promised. Ten thousand rupees per year did not go in vain.
Radha hung her head.
Sathya , a man in his early thirties, hailing from a middle class family and being a mediocre student, did not get a job immediately after his college due to a 63% pass-out percentage.
He attempted almost all of the banking sector exams.
Dejected due to rejections and despaired due to his life’s situations, he was pathetic enough to get into a job that hired him, rather than negotiating with his employer about the salary or job description.
He joined as a probationary officer in a private bank and due to his average performances he stayed in the probationary period for two years.
He was now a Senior Advisory officer, after missing the promotion for a couple of cycles.
Radha started looking for alliances when he was 26 years old. His physique that made him look ten years older and his growing baldness made sure he never got one fixed.
A series of rejection made him ponder about grooming himself more.
The gym and hair care clinic came in for rescue.
“If your call was attended..,” she began to speak.
“It was my fate- my bitter past. I do not want to talk about it again.” He strode towards the door.
As he tried hard to pull his vehicle, Radha came running, as fast as she could, for her age.
“What happened to the topaz ring?” She asked, panting. He looked at his right ring finger. The ring was not there.
Radha had consulted their astrologer and she believed a topaz gem will help for his better performance in office and matrimonial sites.
He searched around in an attempt to find the ring, not knowing where he had missed it.
“Oh my God. When did you lose it?” She asked.
“Not Sure. It was there until..,” he thought hard to remember.
“When are you going to become more responsible Sathya?”
“Please. I am already running out of time.” He hauled his bike to the mechanic shop.
Sathya managed to reach office, late by an hour.
As he logged in, an email from his manager caught his eyes.
‘I need to discuss on the below piece of information. Kindly meet me.’ It read.
He was there in the cabin, exactly after five minutes.
“Sorry, I was late today.” Sathya apologized.
“Well, that is another thing I wanted to talk about, but prior to that, what was the stock prediction you had given to the customer and what was it when the day closed? I still could not believe you had advised them to go for a huge amount of investment on such a volatile company. How many shares had you advised them?”
“2000.”“That sums up to one Lakh Rupee investment on the stocks, which dropped by two points per share within just an hour of Market open and can you really understand how critical it is to think before advising the client to do such huge investments? Are you aware, that you, along with a couple of juniors are the only advisers here who deal with smaller clients? When you cannot advise on just Lakhs of rupees, how do you expect me to assign better and privileged customers? Your juniors out there work better, Sathya. Please understand the situation and concentrate more.” The manager turned back to his system.
Sathya knew it was time to leave. He apologized and walked back.
As he got back to his desk, he threw his mobile with repugnance, which whumped on the vinyl mat.
‘Even the juniors are treated better. It was an overall dip in the National index. My suggestion would have worked better if the overall market had performed well. The face value of almost all the stocks came down, except for few elephantine organizations. I could have justified, but he would not listen.’ He thought with abhorrence.
‘I do not belong here.’ He sighed.
“What are you doing now?” His friend asked him.
“We have just started a N.G.O” He replied.
“I knew you are running one. I always wanted to ask you what is it?”
“It is a non governmental organization. It is non profitable too. Such organizations are run by voluntary citizens like us, who concentrate in welfare of the society through such organizations.”
“Oh. Okay. How is the NGO coming along?” His friend asked him.
“That’s going good.” He smiled.
“How many of you are involved in this NGO?”
“As of now, we five friends are involved.”
“What is the next step with this NGO?”
“Adolescents and Teenagers.”
“Great. What about your personal life?”
“My main aim is to put all my effort and time into this. I ought to concentrate on work too. Let me see.”
“All the best.” His friend smiled and moved.
He looked at his table. There were huge numbers of files stacked. There was a soft copy too.
“I need to check them all.” He bought his laptop to life, hoping to bring a change to the society.
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