“The key to a good sleep is to believe that what you are living is the dream and what you experience after you go to bed is the reality.” This is something a stupid friend of my suggested once. It was a crazy idea that did not work.
When I pursued Computer Engineering I had a goal to run my own company that would help me share my creative ideas with the rest of the world. While I was passing those four years I never thought I would be stuck in a mundane job doing the same thing every day, working for bad bosses running the company with poor management. It was insufferable; I hated it despite the fact that I dedicated most of the hours of my day for that cause.
Exhausted from work I used to go to bed in the night, but I could never sleep as I felt that I was wasting my precious time of my life. I used to get up, stand in front of a white board with a pen in my hand, hoping to note down ideas for my start-up. But I failed to even write one word as my mind was saturated with the day’s work and boss’s yelling. This was causing me many sleepless nights. As a solution for the next day I used to take quick naps sitting in the bus and then drink a lot of coffee to keep me awake through the day.
I was miserable. Every day I was neatly dress in full sleeved shirt tucked in formal pants, a tie, shiny black shoes and properly combed hair, but mentally I used to be messed up.
One such morning the bus was overcrowded so I had to take my naps while standing inside the bus. It’s not impossible; I won a bet by proving to my friend that I can sleep while standing. So it was a routine for me, half asleep travelling to one of the buildings of Electro Grid Co. Ltd. It’s the place where I worked.
There was a sudden honk with a quick break that made me fall on a girl sitting on a chair adjacent to me. Without any word I stood up and went back to my sleep, until I heard her voice.
“Apologize now!” she demanded.
“What?” I was too sleepy to care.
“Just say you are sorry.” She insisted.
I didn’t even look at her and spoke, “Why should I?”
“Because you fell on me, a woman, maybe even on purpose, don’t you have any manners?” she replied raising her voice.
Now I was annoyed, looking at her I said, “If this bothers you so much than you should not sit on the seat that is not reserved for women.” I know it was wrong for me to say that but ‘cranky’ was my default setting while travelling to work until I have my first coffee at work.
She suddenly stood up and then slapped me hard. My eardrums were ringing for a minute and there was a burning sensation on my right cheek and four fingers stamped which was pointed out by my colleagues the first thing when I reached my office. That slap really shook me, woke me up, but before I could react the bus stopped and she got down.
Later that afternoon I saw her in the office cafeteria, no wonder her face looked familiar. She worked in the same place I did. Probably she saw me but didn’t look, but when I saw her standing in the food line I quietly went and stood behind her in the queue. The way she was behaving, forcefully not looking behind, I could tell that she knew who was behind her. She simple filled the plate with what she wanted and I did the same, quietly. Just before she was about to leave I said,
“I am sorry.”
She stood there still for a moment. She was facing away from me but I am pretty sure that she smiled.
“Hi, I am Ishita.” She said turning around and extending her arm for a handshake.
We sat together to eat and I started talking. I clarified my situation telling her neither my act nor my words in the bus were intentional. After lunch the conversation was over but by then we were connected. Since that day I had a reason to go to the office. The work environment was the same, but then, during the off time there was someone genuine whom I could talk to.
Through the many years I spent in the office, she cheered me up when I was low, she motivated me to work harder climb up the ranks in the office. She stood by me until a decade later I was at the apex of the pyramid called Electro Grid. The owner was so impressed by my many years of work that in his will he totally handed over this company, one of many he owned, to me. After I got full legal control of the company we had a celebration.
I was surrounded by many fancy suits and dresses that evening, but one person that stood out of the crowd was the woman dressed in golden glitter, the one who has been there for me since the time I was a low-life employee wanting to quit his job, the one and only wife of mine, Ishita. She gracefully took steps towards me while smiling as she saw me shake hands with many people, congratulating me. My eyes were set on her since I saw her. When she was close I moved other people aside to give my full attention to her. She was about to speak but her words were deafen by a loud horn. This noise pulled me back a decade, back to the bus where I suddenly woke up and fell on a girl on a seat adjacent to me.
‘Horns’ so annoying, they distracted me from the story. So, where was I… yes.
That evening at the celebration, I was standing next to the golden girl. She said,
“Hello, sir. Congratulations. My name is Ishita, I am one of the employees over here.”
“Hello.” I shook her hand gently and said, “I am sorry.”
She was confused what I was talking about until I made her remember.
“A decade ago I was stuck in a miserable job. One morning while travelling in a bus to work I accidentally fell on a girl. It was wrong but I was too sleepy to apologize. On top of that I spoke rudely to her. In returned she slapped, very hard. I still remember that burning sensation that woke me up, literally and figuratively. Her four imprinted fingers on my cheek made me realize who I had become living a wrong life. That day I never went to my boring work, never again. I went to home straight and started working on my start-up idea. Sure I had failures initially, but now I bought the company, that stole 4 years from me, with the money earned from my successful start up.” I paused as she wasn’t listening to my success story. I waited until I had her attention and spoke.
“I have two regrets in my life, one was for not leaving the worst-job-ever earlier and another was to apologize to the girl who set my life straight with one tight slap.”
She smiled when she remembered the incident that she had forgotten. I could see embarrassment on her face and she was about to turn and leave without a word. But I stopped her placing my hand on her shoulder. We started talking and have never stopped since.
Confused? Take a minute.
Now, I have told you both the versions of my story, at the end of which I get the girl and the company and I am happy. Assuming all the facts and record are lost in a fire, how do you know which one is real? The only record left is in my memory. Though I can say this, one of the story is what happened for real and another is the dream that enabled me to sleep well in the night despite the failures of the day. I guess that is the point my friend was trying to make.
“There will be low moments in your life, you cannot avoid those dark days. But when they come, instead of being an insomniac, you can choose to get a good sleep by thinking-believing-knowing that there is another version of life waiting for you on the other side of the sleep.”