Karthick Hemabushanam

Inspirational Romance


4.8  

Karthick Hemabushanam

Inspirational Romance


A Soft Journey

A Soft Journey

386 mins 19.2K 386 mins 19.2K

Chapter 1: Journey begins

“HELLO, BOY, GETUP, THE STATION has come,” the railway cleaner had roared into his ear. He wore a pair of khaki trousers and khaki shirt and stood before him at the S4 compartment of the Bangalore express. He was lean and had a sickly face with a few weeks of unshaven beard.

A boy about the age of twenty two had opened his eyelids to look at him. Actually he was sleeping until the cleaner had given him a whack with his hollering voice. The boy, Gautam looked tired and his face was dripping with oily smudges, his hair was fallen all over the face. He slowly stretched his hands towards the window and spun out of the low berth and sat down on it firmly. He hadn’t slept until three in the morning, as gloomy and awkward thoughts were clamoring around his head during the whole journey from Chennai to Bangalore. But when the train had crossed the Katpadi station, the sleepiness had hugged him for quiet sometime. He was grateful for that. At least he would enjoy a couple of hours snoozing in the lower berth.

“What happened?” Gautam asked, his eyelids were heavy to open fully. He started yawning, as snapped his fingers in front of his mouth. He was looking tall, had a small square face with rough features, mustache was about to launch in his face, and his eyes were large and brownish. He wore a local branded (ADDIDDAS was embossed in white letters across his chest) black T-shirt and copper brown cotton pants. You wouldn’t accept him as an engineer now, because his face couldn’t reflect the charming countenance which the students usually bore.

“Huh, are you asking me what happened? Get out of here,” the cleaner shrieked. His coarsen and shrunken face was blowing like a fuse, now. In the background, the stocky blue engines were screeching in the railway station, along with it there was an announcement of different trains arrival and departure timings was echoing in a healthy lady voice. Of course, you can’t avoid the stench smell floated from the attached toilets in the coaches.

“Why?” Gautam asked in a mumbling voice.

“Harey baba, first tell me where you want to go?” the cleaner asked. He was sullen this time. It’s looked like he was going to beat him if Gautam wasn’t going to get down immediately.

“I want to go to Bangalore,” Gautam said, a large confusion was writ on his forehead. He had almost crouched back with his stuttering fear because the look of cleaner was dangerous and grumpy now.

“Hmm,” the cleaner gasped furiously, “this is Bangalore man,” he shook his head, as snatched the aluminum container to collect the garbage littered in the compartments.

His sharp, barking tone had created a vacuum in Gautam’s mind. No, it was confusion mingled with curiosity, “Please tell me truth. Is this really Bangalore?”

“Hah, why did you come here?” the cleaner asked, his hands on his hips now. His ear lobes twitched to make a plundering conversation with him now.

“To search for job,” Gautam had innocently announced like a kid who would respond to the miss’s query.

“What is your qualification?”

Gautam didn’t answer quickly this time. He thought if it was good to share this information with him. He nodded his head and said, “Engineer.”

Upon hearing this unequivocal word, the cleaner went to slap his forehead with his right hand. He shook his head furiously.

“Huh, what are you going to do then? Will you join me to clean this compartment?”

Gautam nodded him blankly. He was bewildered by his blunt question. Worse, he didn’t know how to react and fumbled, “No, I mean I came here to find a software job. Not to do this work,” he said with a panic stricken face, as pointed his finger at the aluminum container.

The cleaner displayed his broad yellowish teeth and grinned at him, “Then what are you going to do?” he said, as his both palms joined together in a bowl shape and raised it up and down in front of him.

Gautam was infuriated by this gesture, “Are you asking me to beg or what?”

“Of course sir, what are you going to do here then, I have seen thousands of hundreds of people coming down to Bangalore and roaming in the streets with their empty hands. Still do you believe yourself having a job here?” the cleaner said, his tampering smile had never left his face.

Gautam bit his baby nail and his face was shrinking lower now. He thought that he was going to get a decent job in a software company and become a big star in Bangalore. But the cleaner’s abusive and ridiculing talk had worried him more and more. Talking to him was the worst welcome he had come across initially in the Bangalore. He suddenly sprang out of the seat and plucked off his bag which was hung over the hook beside the window.

“Thanks,” Gautam slammed the words from his mouth.

The cleaner had already started scooping the littered empty water bottles, styrofoam cups, and waste papers from the floorboard of the coach. He finally looked at him as he flashed an impish smile, “I hope you will come back soon into this train to return your home,” he almost cursed him like a Satan.

Gautam didn’t speak and hurried down through the narrow aisles of the compartment and got out squeezing in between the people as he scrambled to get a taxi. There were plenty of black and yellow taxis queued up along the wide road near Kempegowda bus stand. The auto drivers were standing behind their vehicles, elbowed their one hand on the top roof of the auto, and waited for the passengers to come in. All were looked dark and brown, some had chewed pan and some had pulled in beedi, while talking with their co-workers in a friendly and provoking manner.

Gautam was scanning their faces to get into the auto. The first two persons were taller and burlier, and he looked almost fainted upon seeing them. They were calling at him magane, dhosth, master, in several monologues, and it only created a mobbing fear in him. The third person was skinner than the others, and he was looking soft and having some amiable features. So naturally he went behind him and drew his attention.

“Boss, where you want to go?” the thin auto driver asked in a casual strident voice.

“I…I want to go Indira Nagar,” Gautam said.

The other auto drivers stretched their necks to show their anticipation on hearing this. The first two auto drivers came near the third auto driver and said, “You shouldn’t take this person. He should come to travel in my auto.”

“What are you saying master? I didn’t go and call him, he has come to my auto,” the third auto driver protested calmly.

Gautam’s stomach was rumbling now. It was a dull and low pain earlier but it was getting up and up as time goes on. He wanted to badly shit off somewhere or should go earlier to the room where his friend was staying. His eyes were already started aching after sleeplessness throughout the journey (of course he was lucky to have a one hour sleep and haggle with the cleaner).

“Master, you come and get inside my auto,” the first auto driver prompted him. His big arms were almost pushing him towards his auto.

“Hello, he has come for my auto and I can’t allow him to enter into your auto,” the third driver’s face was slowly reddening now. He was shaking his finger at him with ferocity. A moment Gautam was stunned on seeing his lethal argument. He thought he was skinny and soft and all. But suddenly he was billowing into rage. He couldn’t believe it.

“C’mon get inside,” the first driver pushed him now. Gautam was fumbled as his bag from his hand was slipped down, as its bottom was smeared with the spit of pan.

“You don’t deceive my customer,” the third driver was furious this time. He stretched his hands and held the first driver tightly around his neck. The second driver was intruded between them and tried to release his strangled neck.

Gautam had swallowed a big lump down his throat as watched this daredevil and nasty fight. He was terrified by their ferocity in banging each other. Now, he thought of walking down the road to Indira Nagar. He didn’t know the distance, but it was worth to walk down. He also had no idea about which bus he should take to go there, worst, the words written on top of the buses were like the knotted threads in the hammock. He didn’t fathom a single word.

The fight between them was slowly blowing in hot stream, as Gautam scurried down to other auto and sat inside. He was relieved when the fellow had accepted to drive him. The auto had screamed along the road, past the Richmond circle and Trinity circle, as the towering shopping malls, roadside shops, and luxurious buildings were studded on both sides. He was unwavering when his eyeballs stared this silicon city with a fixed glance. Why not? After all he was a villager coming from Pudukottai, the deep southern district of Tamil Nadu. His eagerness to work in this ever glowing and bustling city was roaring inside him. He wanted to get a good job, he didn’t have no idea how he was going to get it. But his spirit was smoking up in his eyes. This was more like a dream than anything else.

The auto swiftly (forget about bumping up and down along the road) past the intersection of the Murphy town and went further down to Indira Nagar.

“Here you are,” the auto driver get down and showed his finger at the signboard at the far corner of the winding road, near water tank.

Gautam pulled out his bag from the auto and looked up at him, “How much?”

“Give me whatever you pleased sir,” he said amicably, a slight blush was escaped through his eyes.

Gautam was really awed after hearing these words. He had never imagined an auto driver would ask this way. In fact, he was chilled and became cool in the coolest city. So, he fished out fifty rupees and gave it to him. The auto driver was terrified and a streak of aggression poured on his face suddenly, “What is this?” he said as showed that piece of note in front of him as if he had a shit in his hand. He then flew it hither and thither in front of his eyes. A look of frown was largely writ on his face.

“What happened? Should I give five rupees more?” Gautam said and fished one five rupee coin from the corner of his leather purse.

The auto driver was infuriated and his face was twitching suddenly, as if someone was shaking his head fiercely, “You should give me four fifty rupees more.”

“What? Four fifty?” Gautam gaped at him. He was surprised as if he was suddenly got an emotional goosebumps on his arms.

“Hah, what do you think about me? Am I doing free service or what, to get this rickety fifty rupees from you,” the auto driver grimaced. His hands were aching to smack at his head, and his blood was whooshing to his face which was turning into reddish purple.

“But…” Gautam said and stared at him with his innocuous eyes. There was no talking further, as the auto driver immediately plucked the purse from his hand and fished for more money. There were five polished and clean notes were kept inside the purse safely. He yanked it out and rattled the engine and sprung out from there.

*

“Come in Gautam,” his friend had welcomed in. He was brushing his teeth with a Colgate 360 degree tooth brush at the entrance of the door in the second floor and watching over the people who were going in and out down the narrow road which leads to a bus stop. He was looking shorter, had a thin face and sprinkled black mustache beneath his crooked nose. He wore an orange bermudas and a white neck t-shirt.

Gautam had flicked a reserved smile and entered inside the house with gratitude. Madhan was his close friend in college days, and they both had stayed in a same hostel there.

“How are you doing man? It’s been three months since I had seen you in the college,” Madhan was speaking through his white Colgate foam filled mouth. His voice was low and rumbling, and the words were incoherently dropped down from his mouth.

“Yeah doing good. How about you guys?” Gautam said, as kept his luggage down on the floor. You could see two people were propped on straw mat, and snuggled inside the colorful thick blankets which were covered up to their chins. You could also hear a roaring snore comes from inside the blankets, and abruptly one fellow was scratching his elbow in deep sleep, and another fellow was mumbling something with his dreamy girl (God know who was this girl?).

“Of course, we are doing great here,” Madhan said as sputtered the runny white foam in the wash basin in the corner of the living room. There was a small mirror hung above it. He opened the faucet and let the foam drain in the gutter and looked up at him, “but don’t take my words serious boy. We are struggling here to get jobs you know.”

Gautam was shocked and grumbled after hearing this, his abysmal confidence to get a new job in this silk city was shattered immediately. A moment he wondered if the railway cleaner had spoken the truth. His stomach was already started squeezing him.

“Are you kidding me?” Gautam said, he wanted to cool off the fire which had just engulfed in his head.

Madhan tossed the yellow toothbrush on a plastic holder and made him sit down in the chair, “See, why I should do kidding man. This is reality. We have been roaming around every software companies for more than three months now. But there is no luck. The only pretty thing that happened in my life is clearing the written test for Wipro. That’s it. In the technical round they had strangled my breath with the unwavering technical questions in the end, you know. The competition is fierce here man,” he glared at him.

Gautam’s eyeballs were shrunk low, as fearful goosebumps was sticking out on his arms and neck. He swallowed a huge lump down his throat as he looked at his friend. His arms refrained to hold the armrests of the chair firmly, perhaps he was thinking of catching the return train to Chennai immediately.

“Is it true? What about others?” Gautam said, as he pointed his lean finger at snoozing boys.

Madhan flashed a rooky smile, as went down to kick at the rear end of one fellow, who was dreaming with his girlfriend. He rattled off his plump big body and suddenly threw up his glance as his fat face turned eerie dark and flummoxed, “What do you want man?” Kamesh said, he started scratching his bushy black hair, which was flopped down over his ears in masses. He was a big fellow in the room, had a huge dark eyes and large oval shape face. His face was milky white like the pretty models out there in the magazines. His green round T-shirt didn’t help much to conceal his round belly. He wore a pink track suit which was loose and the back of his brief was revealed with the top cleave of his butt. His body was full of hairy, particularly in the arms and chest region. To be surprise, his face looked blemish free and beard free too. Though he looked terrible with his mighty body, he had that baby look in him. He was never been dangerous to anyone and sometimes affectionate too.

“I want to date with the girl you were dreaming, man,” Madhan said and guffawed, as he snatched off the blanket. He knew for sure because, he had seen the mouth water in his large face. He was trapped in front of him like a thief who snatched a chain near the police station and caught up by the police. Kamesh wasn’t ashamed now, but blushed as his eyes lowered like a girl. This one thing you couldn’t bear with boys, on seeing they are entering into the blushing mood. That too, he was a huge and bumpy fellow, it was disgusting to see how he was daring to do so. Can’t you forgive him?

“Man it’s freezing chill here, give me the blanket,” Kamesh said, as held his both hands around his bumpy chest. It’s aphorism that your actions speak more than your words. But it is genuinely truth with him, because his each action spoke for himself. Now, in this case, he was behaving like a five years old kid when Madhan had plucked off the blanket from him. But there were times, when he would behave rudely too, so he was generally unpredictable like the seasons (who knows what this mother earth is going to bring in the next second?)

“Turn and see who came here,” Madhan said, as showed his middle finger at Gautam, who was still lingering there with his nervous thoughts of going back.

“Hello sir, when did you come?” Kamesh had teased him with fecundity. It was his way of addressing people sir, to make them quiver for a second. It meant there was a sarcasm and satire both concocted in his response. Though these guys had studied in the same college, they had stayed like separatists. He and Lawrence stayed together in the outskirts of the college, because these guys didn’t like the hostel smell. Yeah, particularly the reeking smell of potato curry comes from the back of the kitchen. In fact, he had vomited twice when he had stayed initially in the hostel, but only for two months. On hearing this news or tragedy, his mom had come from the Madurai (along with few neighbors) to quarrel with the administrator, who turned speechless after seeing her myriad reactions and closed his mouth like a dumb fellow. The interesting fact was that she had lodged a FIR against him for trying to kill her son with poison. So that’s how this bumpy fellow had stayed out with Lawrence, who always behaved like a sincere subservient to him.

“Now only man. So, tell me about your job hunting journey,” Gautam said. He was looking tired, and his face was showing signs of wear and tear after the enervating journey. But he seemed least bothered about his sleep right now.

“Tell him that you have been hunting behind a Marwari girl for more than two months, and she was still not able to find a second to speak with you,” a muffled voice escaped from the person who was laid down beside to Kamesh. This Punjabi girl would come often to Radha Krishna temple near their house, and he had a magnetic attraction when he had first seen her. And that day onwards he had never missed going to this temple and get the bliss and glimpse of her on Fridays.

Kamesh was suddenly become furious on hearing this pricking comment and gave a nice kick on his butt to let him wake up. Lawrence was stirred by his mighty blow, and rose immediately, he was twisting in a snarl, “You bitch, don’t hit me at my ass.”

“Where should I knock then?” he pointed his finger at his crotch.

“You never change man,” Lawrence slapped his head with his right hand. He had a soft brown face, a pair of blue eyes, and crew cut on his head. He was looking fairer (still he wouldn’t beat Kamesh in milky complexion, you bet?) in the group; however he wasn’t taller but shorter than Madhan. His father was a retired bank officer and he had come from pretty orthodox family. He wore trendy dresses and if you go and see his suitcase in the room, you would come up with huge collection of perfumes and sun glasses (though he had never dared to wear it in front of Kamesh). He was the only person can speak good English and having a good grip on the technical subjects and leading a way beyond others, to grab a job. He can’t just keep his mouth shut when someone discussing the geeky stuff.

“Okay guys, first let’s meet our new member of this house, Gautam,” Madhan said formally, like a new member had joined in the office. It was more like kidding. They were going to stay in the same room from now onwards, it was going to be a rocking experience for them. God only knows if it was going to be a rocking and panicking experience.

“Welcome to Bangalore and to the royal house,” Kamesh said, as he extended his rotund hand to Gautam, who shook it weakly.

“Hey man, don’t insult him in the first day itself,” Madhan said, countering against his gooey statement about the flat, “look at the messiness in the house. I have told you to remove the garbage from the dust bin for more than three days now. See, the last two days of food is smelling badly now, the remains of kitchadi is rotten and worms are living inside it. You must clean it today, otherwise we are not going to feed your large stomach.”

No wonder the bachelor room is that untidy. It was a typical bachelor room. The living room was filled with the dirty clothes here and there. The books like C, C++, communication theory, microprocessor, digital electronics and many more were scattered around the room. It just looked like an exhibition, but nothing adorable you could see. Of course, the bed room was used as dumping area for their booze bottles. There were about few dozen bottles stacked up neatly behind the bedroom wall. There were two unopened beer bottles too, it was there purposely because whenever they feel like their spirits went down, they would start gurgle it down copiously, and you know what they had believed it would bring cheers to them. It’s like first aid medicine box for them, the only difference between the elders and these buffoons was that these shoddy fellows addicted to binges and they were addicted to medicines. You don’t have to know about the kitchen, because it will make you retch too like Kamesh. In fact, they thought it would be shameful if they had governed their rooms like library and pretty clean.

“Nah, it can’t be done. I couldn’t pull it to the garbage dustbin. It’s awfully in a bad condition. If I go close to it, my stomach is retching out the food. No, I can’t,” Kamesh threw up his hands in the air, as his face was grimaced.

“That’s your job man. You should do it. Who else can do it otherwise?” Madhan fisted his hand as charged in front of him, as if he was going to knock him down.

“C’mon idiots, don’t mess up in the early morning itself. Let’s at least cheer for our new roommate,” Lawrence said, as he turned his gaze at Gautam, “What’s happening man? Did you finish enjoying your honeymoon period in your house?”

Three of them laughed synchronously.

“Oh God, no. It was boring like hell in the house, and my mother had stopped feeding me. That’s why I am here now,” Gautam said, feeling aghast. After finishing his college, he directly went to his home. His parents had welcomed him like he had done a marvelous contribution for the society. There was mutton paya in the morning, chicken fry in the lunch and crab gravy in the night. He enjoyed the feasty food prepared by his mother, and this sumptuous food went on for a few weeks. The only thing he had done was washing his hands and slouching in the bed and looking into the TV (in the late nights he had ogled with models who wore parsimonious dresses). After one month, his father had started cursing him for being idle and lazy in his home. From there, the troubles were started to flow into his head, because his mom also had criticized him once for not helping her to draw the water from the well.

“Huh, I thought you are enjoying in your house. But you are saying something unusual man,” Madhan interrupted.

“It’s true man. I have travelled up and down to the city and house to get a job. But it was no use, you know. In fact, I have done two months short course on C++ to horn my skills to get a software job,” Gautam said. Yes, he had gone to Chennai to study this course in T Nagar. His father had requested his relatives to accommodate his son in their house. Gautam had stayed there for close to three months and attended some of the interviews while doing his course.

“Is it? How much you paid for that?” Kamesh asked, his large eyes were stayed unwavering.

“Twenty thousand man, also they said me at the end of the course will show some companies to get a job and all,” Gautam said, he had created some empathy with his somber eyes.

“It’s huge amount for a single stream of language, man,” Lawrence said. He was a nerdy fellow comparatively among this gang. He had known well about the rousing C language, and he knew how to deal with the pointers (its concept of C software language) and all. That’s what his huge potential to claim his job in the electronic city. The other fellows merely knew arrays and structures and a few miscellaneous basic programs. That’s it. If you ask Kamesh he would blink his big eyes, because he didn’t know to do even simple programs like swapping the numbers and prime number generation.

“Tell me what happened? Did you get a job?” Madhan asked, he was excited to know his friend hadn’t got a job yet. Of course, it wasn’t about jealous or ego or something, but only fear. If his friend had received a job, it would give a headache for him, sometimes heartache too. That’s why he was so curious about knowing whether he had received a job or not. Don’t you think it’s a genuine question, yet?

“No, I was turned out of the course with empty handed,” Gautam said. A smothering shame was smeared on his face. He couldn’t look at his friends steadily because he thought he was reckless after he had gone through the course and was turned out with upset. The worry was still embedded in his heart still now.

Madhan immediately got relieved by closing his eyelids for a few seconds and propped his palm over his chest, “Boy, I thought you got a job or something. You just fueled milk in my stomach, you know. Thanks man,” he said with a stupendous relief from his soul. Yeah, really it sounded like that. You should have seen his face now, and it was impeccable and somber as if he had been released from the prison.

Kamesh punched his fisted hand on his arm and said, “Man, I even felt afraid when he was telling us about the placement and all. Anyway, he is our fellow in this hustled and bustled group,” he cheered relentlessly. Actually shivers went up from Madhan’s arm when he was punched by this huge and bumpy fellow.

“Oh c’mon boys. This is why you two are not getting the job yet,” the nerdy fellow Lawrence shrieked in an uncontrollable spirit. In this atrocity he had forgot the fact that he hadn’t yet earned a job. Of course, there was a big chance that he might get placed in coming days, but it won’t promote any good intention with his friends.

Kamesh was infuriated about this accusing comment as his bulged face was dribbled with embarrassment, “Fuck. What about you then. You still don’t have a job, buckaroo. Mind it.”

“Hah, I know that fatso. You better stop knocking over me,” Lawrence said, little flustered by now.

Gautam was shaking his head after seeing this kid fight between them and felt like the dizziness was shooting up from his forehead right now. He felt like wanted to meet a Physician straight after taking his bath here, because their conversation was bit hard and sturdier.

“Guys, please stop. I don’t want anyone to knock anybody with vehemence,” Gautam said, taking charge over them. He thought he had to talk now, otherwise its looked like they were going to bang one another with their wristy fists. No joke, the fatso was scrunching his bushy eyebrows at Lawri. His hot blood was raising and falling at his each steamy glance at him.

“So tell me about how strong you are now in C++,” Madhan asked, his hand on his cheek now. He wanted to know the entire caliber of his skills after pursuing this course in Chennai.

Gautam was stunned after hearing his blatant question, because he was still in the basic level to learn the polymorphism and inheritance, “Hah, I am still learning it. I have learnt about classes and constructors.”

“C’mon, that’s only basic in oops concepts, isn’t?” Lawrence said and perplexed by Gautam’s answer, and you know ‘oops’ is another software term to call the C++ language.

“Hah, that’s all I have learned in there. Man, truly it is tough subject. My mind was spinning like a kite in the air, while the trainer had lectured about this language,” Gautam said. His face twisted and his lips puckered inward to show his grimace. He was better in enunciating different emotions while he had confronted his parents. It had helped him a lot in difficult situations like this.

“Same pinch. I don’t even know who had invented this language?” Kamesh said, perhaps he was happy for sharing a common space with him for his lack of intellect. His joy was immense and overshooting the sky. Indeed, it was nothing fancy to show his loftiness, but he usually did.

“Bjarne Stroustrup,” Lawrence echoed majestically. His shoulders were jerking up and down, as he responded to them. It shows what nerd he was, isn’t? He simply can’t hide his rousing enthusiasm to respond such tickling questions. On the other hand, Kamesh and Madhan were winced at the terrible question. Don’t you think these fellows had won many hearts? You bet, the girls would love them to have a coffee with these guys. They somehow love to hang on with those wishy-washy guys than the super nerds.

“Jokes apart. Tell us seriously about how many companies you have attended there in Chennai?” Madhan asked. There were plentiful questions kept banging on his mind as of now. Again, he won’t sleep if he didn’t know answers for these stomping questions. Really there was nothing like he was pretty intelligent and wanting to know this. It would give him a chill feeling if he had quoted less companies than what he had done himself here in Bangalore.

“Five man. Three top MNC companies and two small companies,” Gautam said. His voice seemed exhausted as if he had made a century in attending interviews. Yes, he had attended TCS, Infosys, and Patni Systems. He was glad to attend the TCS written test, guess why? Yes, he thought some of the beautiful girls in the country over there. Though he wasn’t that tongue wagging boy to admire the girls, he felt it was better to focus on them than to curse the unfathomable written test paper.

“Is it? Wow, great! Share your experience,” Kamesh cajoled at him. He had attended four top MNC’s in Bangalore and he was immediately scuttled out of their premises by securities after his breaching attempt done at written test itself.

“Man, I tell you, the aptitude questions asked in MNC companies were clueless and I was merely flabbergasted by the scrupulous questions. What to do, I just randomly filled the answers in inky ponky style,” Gautam nodded his head at him.

Everyone had guffawed at him.

“What happened then?” Lawrence prompted him.

“Hah, I was out of the office building when the results were announced after the written test. But, one good thing is I had cleared written test in a new company called Liza software inc.” Again calmness shrouded past them as everyone screwed upon each other. Particularly, Madhan was dreaded as his eyes were motionless for a moment. You could hardly say that he was alive now.

“Don’t worry, the technical panel was very generous to reject me after a few probing questions,” Gautam said.

“Ware wah. You are my boy,” Kamesh had stood up and ran his large hand over his shoulder.

“C’mon get ready. We will start our job hunting together from today,” Madhan said, he was enthused after Gautam’s successive failures.

*

Chapter 2: Interview marathon

GAUTAM DIDN’T GO TO INTERVIEW on his first arrival day. He was too tired to go out and turn in with empty hands, he didn’t like the whole idea, so went snugging inside the room from morning until the sunset. He had propped over the straw mat without even going for the piss, you know. His friends had returned with the slim files in their hands and their dresses were smelled of salt and perspiration, their eyes were looking tired and glum as if they had gone down to pull rikshas in the city. Really they were so much exhausted. If you ask Kamesh, he would tell you the whole story in a horrific style like Ram Gopal Varma movies.

There was a slow knock on the door, Gautam had put on a blue T-shirt (he had slept with white vest) and scrambled down the floor to open it and clicked the doorknob. Three haunting faces were appeared in front of him. He was bemused for a few seconds on seeing them in that wretched state.

“What are you doing inside man?” Madhan asked, his voice was thick and frowning.

“I just wore my T-shirt to open the door. Why anything serious?” he asked after seeing their morose and sturdy faces, queuing behind the door.

“No, nothing man. Just give us some space to escape inside,” Kamesh said, as pushed him aside and went in long strides and plopped down on the floor in the living room. If he would have sat on the watermelon, it would have crushed to the ground, bleeding its syrupy red sauce. No kidding, he was really making an attempt to create seismic vibrations here. He hastily unbuttoned his pink formal shirt and threw up in the cloth-line behind the window.

“C’mon tell me, what went wrong?” Gautam said, slightly pissed off after seeing their incoherent activities.

Kamesh had ignored his question and asked Lawrence to get the cigar box from the low rack of the shelf. He snatched the Kings pack from him and pulled out one and flicked a lighter to ignite it. He breathed the smoke into his lungs and puffed out, nodding at him conspicuously. His shivering fingers were become normal again. No wonder, his nervous system had deeply attached with the tobacco plants in the recent days. He bellowed a sigh of relief.

“What to tell. We were thrashed out again,” Kamesh said, as his thumb finger went low. The blown smoke went up in tendrils, and hovering past the main door.

“That’s not surprising me at all,” Gautam said. Given the early morning discussion with them, he knew they were really going to give a flop show today as well.

“What?” Madhan croaked, raising his one eyebrow up. He was feeling terrified on denouncing their capability in pursuing the job. He was almost shocked and panicked, you know. A set of deep hollow lines had formed on his forehead on hearing this depressed statement.

“Hmm,” Gautam twinkled his eyelids, “the way you said about the screwing interview process, I was sure it wasn’t going to easy for you guys.” He fought hard to make their worry look smaller than they had anticipated. His answer was indeed a truth. But, he had expected at least Lawrence would have grabbed the job offer, but that didn’t happen.

“Do you think we don’t have guts to clear the interview?” Madhan argued. His small chest was stretching wider as he looked at him.

“No, not like that. I just felt the interview would be difficult, that’s it,” Gautam got backed himself. His face was coloring to orange as gazed them reluctantly.

“Man, we were really got fucked up,” Kamesh hollered, as blew the cloud of smoke directly onto his face, Gautam had used his hands deftly to divert the flume out past him.

“I think it’s good that you haven’t attended this interview,” Lawrence had plunged into the conversation. He was looking weird and hopelessly tired among them. His bristly crew-cut was messed up right now, and he felt like to pluck off the bunch of hair with a firm grip of his own hands.

“What happened, you all seemed to be offended? Is something gone wrong there?” Gautam asked. He had piqued their atrocity in their eyes. He guessed there was something monstrous disaster had happened to them today, by the steamy look of Kamesh.

Kamesh let a huge sigh as he held him arrested with his bulging eyes.

“There was a huge crowd of freshers. I have never expected such crowd even in my dreams, you know. It’s like growing up and up like china wall, from Koramangala to Whitefield. I don’t know from where these people were popped out suddenly. We stood along the road sweating out under piercing sun throughout the day,” Kamesh said, as tapped twice at the cigar butt to drop the ash into the small steel bowl (it was an ashtray for them).

Gautam’s eyes were immovable and stayed alight, “Did you guys get a chance to attend the interview or not?”

Lawrence threw a C book in frustration, and it went crawling to Madhan’s feet. It was his way of gesture that he was seething with anger and frustration.

“It was until 5pm, there was still a huge crowd knocking around the office premises, of course we were part of them. And finally the whistle was blown from the HR department and suddenly we were pushed out from there without a notice,” Lawrence said, as he walked down the floor in furious long strides, the reddish flame was streaming out of his small nostrils as he looked at him.

“Oh, that’s really a tragic story man,” Gautam crooned after him. He also thought of the tragic days ahead of him. The mere glimpse of their frustration had made a whacking shiver run down his spine.

“I am seeing hell in finding a job, guys. I feel like I have finished my life without earning a buck in my wallet,” Madhan said, as twirled the sides his puberty mustache with his lean and short fingers. His cheeks were turned amber as he thought about his merciless future down the path.

“I too have a same feeling buddy, I wonder if I ever clear a written test in any of the interviews. Whenever I hold the question paper in my hand, I just feel like holding terrific troubles in my hand. That moment suddenly everything is collapsing down and my mind is become an empty garbage once again. I think, the positive thought of successfully clearing the written test is never written in my forehead,” Kamesh said dejected, as he drew a line across his forehead with his thumb finger while holding the cigar in between his index and middle fingers.

Gautam stood there perplexed and didn’t know if he had to smile or hold a depressed face upon hearing his wretched talk. But he had chosen a wise choice by standing aloof and untainted with their emotional outrage. That was a fair decision, isn’t?

“The worst part is how these English speaking nerds are ever going to accept our broken English?” Lawrence said.

A mighty shiver ran on Gautam’s eyes, because he had thought that Lawrence was fluent in English. But he knows himself that he would speak worse English than anyone in the group. It’s not a pride of him, but his identity.

“I thought you were speaking fairly than us. Then, think about our position man,” Madhan said in a dilapidating tone. His eyes didn’t move and stayed in fixed position like a statue.

“Even if I am lucky to clear the written test, it would be impossible to sail across the technical panel. They would throw me out after hearing my butler English at first sight, you know,” Kamesh said, despite his crummy joke he had seemed unchurned.

“Man, I don’t know what to do, my father is already started yelling over me for not getting a job for three months after came out of the college campus,” Lawrence said and worried. Though he was a nerdy fellow, he was always subjected to being nervous and despondent. When it comes to deal with hardcore life matters, his meager strength and confidence wasn’t enough to give him more courage to face the life challenges. That was this nerdy fellow’s flaw which needs to be corrected.

“That is far better than what my parents did. My father had shredded fifty percent of the money he was giving me earlier at every month, you know. My innards are blazing in fire after I had received a slimy rupee notes in this month,” Madhan said, sneezing out loud.

Kamesh prodded his hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently and said, “But don’t avoid investing the money in uplifting our spirits, okay?” Madhan was the major investor (with his parents hard earned money) in cultivating his mood and brush off the fiddling and sucking thoughts stored in his mind.

“How you gonna uplift your spirits? You mean, buying great books and reading out daily?” asked Gautam in a reclusive tone. He was too immature to grasp the speculative words hovering in the world of fantasy.

The three of them guffawed in an arrogant style as looked at him like a bug.

“You fucking stupid. We are talking about booze. Did you ever come across the word at any time?” Kamesh said, feeling christened after his foresight of the knowledge.

“No,” Gautam said blatantly. He had lived in a hostel where he had never ever drunk even a single coke or pepsi there, let alone beer or whisky. All he had done was going to college and give full attendance and come back to the hostel and read the books. Though he was a dull student, he studied hard only to earn at least two backlogs per semester. He always had a bad reputation with the professors for scoring low marks and being or acting like a nerdy. But what this poor fellow can do when the books hadn’t enraptured him?

“You have to grow up man. You are still being like a kiddo you know,” Lawrence said and punched at his arm. The pain was shot up to Gautam’s head, as he stood virile and confounded.

“If you stay here like this, even a witch won’t fuck you,” Kamesh laughed out, “So be careful and know all worldly things from geniuses like us.”

Gautam’s face was trembled suddenly, and a humungous frightens shot up to his brain in a frantic way. He thought he was going to live here like a pleasant bird which comes to nestle in the lakes in the winter season, but he realized with a dreadful gut feeling that his friends would never going to offer such cocoon for him.

“Okay, buddies. What can we do now then?” Madhan said, exclamation stood on his eyes.

“What else we do when we were failed in interviews. Not to say, today it was something horrible due to the hectic schedule we had in the outdoors. I mean, we should pour down litres of booze into our pit of stomachs,” Kamesh said and smiled smugly.

“C’mon, we will go and cheer up,” Lawrence prompted them briskly.

*

Gautam had woke up at 6.30am, and read a few programs from the C book written by Yashavant Kanetkar. He liked to read it because the programs were written in simple style and the description was easy to understand, so he was immersed himself in this process. But still it was hard for him to go beyond the structures to the pointers or data structures. He studied for continuous three hours in stretch to complete hardly a three small programs, but he was proud of the effort he had wielded for it. The black round clock nailed down on the wall was ticked to nine, and he stood up stretching his hands up and yawned. He was getting hungry, his stomach was already humming inside to feed it, and he looked at his friends who were still snuggled under the blankets and rattling their mouths with an unshakable sleep.

“Madhan get up, I am feeling hungry man, let’s cook something for breakfast,” Gautam said, as shook his body with all his might. But he was completely dozed after having strong booze on last night. He had drowned two beers in two single shots that was the highest achievement he had done so far after coming down to Bangalore from Chennai.

Gautam continued to try churning him with his long hands, but it was no use. He finally gasped in frantic sight. He then nodded at Kamesh who was bellowing the air through his mouth in a heavy blow. The mere sight of him had caused mental tremor in Gautam’s head. He knew it was impossible to seduce him to wake up, he had to give up this idea immediately, and there were no alternate thoughts about it.

He then, scurried behind Lawrence and shook off his hand. His body was rippled suddenly, but he went rolling down to the side position and hugged the pillow as if it was his wife, and buried his face in it (the instant relief was that he didn’t kiss it). Gautam was stupefied and smacked his hand on his head and stood up with drained heart and feeble hands. His stomach was groaning and biting at him to feed it.

He scrambled down to the kitchen with heavy heart and scrunched his eyebrows upon seeing the messy gas stove. The remnants of white rice were turned reddish in the cooker, thanks to the chicken gravy Madhan had prepared last night. They didn’t have applied delicate method to handle the food, all the stainless silver spoons and cradles were dipped into every vessels to satiate their hunger in hunting the chicken legs and omlets. You could see the stains of gravy were littered all around the gas stove.

He didn’t know how to cook, let alone doing a creative cooking. He snatched all the vessels and dumped into the sink, opened the faucet and let the water soaking the stained vessels. He started bleaching the plates and cooker and pan with the vim yellow liquid. His thoughts went back to his house, where his mom would prepare hot kitchadi, idli and ghee dosa, for his breakfast. He had never stopped by the kitchen sink to clean the empty utensils but here, he had to do himself. His mom was a best cook he had known so far, and he was going to miss the healthy home food for at least a couple of months in Bangalore. Immediately a nostalgic mania had swept on his head. He could have stayed in his home, if there were more opportunities than in Bangalore. He had asked her mom to stay there and do the job hunting (going down to Coimbatore or Madurai), but she knew he wasn’t going to sincerely do it from home. Besides, she couldn’t monitor him on how effectively he was studying and attending the interviews to get a job. She was uneducated but she was aware of her inability in steering her son. And his father was working as a bus conductor in Tamil Nadu government transport services, he had to work in shifts and financially struggled to educate his son as an engineer, but in the end he was proud of this feat. However, he would be happy only when he hears that his son had received a software job in one of the multination companies in Bangalore (or in Chennai?). That would give his father a moral strength to share with his colleagues in the transport department that his son had become a software engineer and earning a huge salary than him.

These all thoughts were flowing in the corner of Gautam’s mind like the natural falls had been pouring water down from the heightened mountains. The more alone he felt, the more clamorous thoughts were rushed into his mind in jolting speed. I just wanted to kill this aloneness, he thought. It took him thirty minutes to clean all the messiness in the kitchen. The utensils were cleaned and kept down in the black granite slabs shelved in the right corner of the kitchen, and a few drops of water had been trickling down from it. And he used the waste cloth to wipe off the remnants of gooeyness spread on the gas stove, and heaved a big gasping and huffing after he finished this mighty job.

His stomach was now filled with the gas, there was no rumbling heard anymore, it was stopped in the middle of this cleaning process. But still the giddiness was lingering in his eyes and head, he wanted to beat it out with some immediate breakfast. There was no use of waiting for his friends to come and help him to do this tedious activity. He wondered if they would wake up at least in the afternoon (for lunch). He would still hear the snoring comes from the hall, it was impossible to wake the hunk Kamesh even if he had possibility to wake up the other two idiots. There was no doubt about it. Hence he started rummaging through the kitchen shelves to get semia or upma powder packets, but it was his bad luck there was nothing kept inside. All he had got was empty vessels covered with lids on top of it. He was almost fed up and wanted to quit his searching mission, when his finger had fumbled upon a packet, which was rustled and it was magically a maggi noodles packet. His breath had come back to his lungs again. His eyes were flashed with an effervescent glow, as he grabbed the packet with a delicious style. If there were no instant made maggi noodles available in the market, 25% of the bachelors would die of starvation, you know. Don’t you think so? God knows if it is true or not?

Within five minutes it was ready and he had come back to the living room with a plate full of hot maggi noodles. The earthworm size noodles went down his throat as his mouth gaped fully to swallow it in bunches. His long struggle to smack down something was fulfilled and his aching stomach was eased now. Boy, this was not an easiest job to stay single and do our own things. There is a lot of hidden things should be found out before we are heading into our life journey.

Finally, there was a ripple in the bed, and it was unbelievable moment that Kamesh had stirred first from the inside of his blanket. He threw aside the blanket and opened his eyes very slowly as if it had been plastered. His huge eyes were staring at Gautam in wonder and amusement.

“What are you doing man in the very early morning?” Kamesh asked, as if he had woken up at 3am.

Gautam was startled a minute and looked up at the wall clock which had nailed down in the opposite wall, its hands were jointly crawling to show eleven o’clock, “It is eleven o’clock man. Do you think it is very early, eh?” He was literally amazed and stupefied with this question.

“Of course it is. Tell me now, what business are you going to run if you wake up early on,” Kamesh said, as his eyelids were peeled out sharply.

Gautam had blinked for a second as if his mind had blown up its fuse. Immediately the guiltiness had surfaced over his head, and the noodles he was eating was choked in the middle of his throat.

“I thought of studying at early morning to prepare for the interview in the coming week,” Gautam said with an innocent face.

“You don’t fucking dream to get a job sooner, it is very difficult man. Whatever circus you do, the old fellows in the MNCs are going to screw up and reject you at the first screening itself. See, good English speaking Lawrence himself having a trouble to get a job. Then how are you going to? Please drop that shitty idea man,” Kamesh said and laughed as his bumpy cheeks were jiggled up and down.

“But, if we are technically good we can clear the interview, no?” Gautam said. Again the same innocence flashed on his face, but with perturbed mindset.

“Harey, you don’t day dream like that. It is really tough to clear the interview without knowing the proper English,” Kamesh said. He formed O symbol with his big thumb and index fingers to indicate the excellence (or outstanding) required in the interviews.

Gautam’s little bit of confidence was ruined now. His eyes were twitched in agitation and the noodles had tasted sour and bitter now.

“I don’t believe it. I have known thousands of people who received good jobs here,” Gautam said, his words were almost choking up. The upper lip had rippled in crouching fear, but he was making a desperate attempt to comfort himself.

“What’s their school background, man? I know they all had studied in English medium in big and branded private schools, isn’t?” Kamesh said, he shook his hand in front him as if he was going to slap him for getting into this hostile confrontation.

Gautam brooded about it for a while, but it was disgusting to know that most of the fellows who had earned jobs were coming from the private schools, “Don’t discourage me. I am sure I get a job,” he still put a brave face, though it was a mask he was trying to wear to absolve his rousing fears.

“C’mon buddy, I am happy too if you get a job. But look at the reality and the statistics, so it was impossible for a fellow like you to get a good job here,” Kamesh said.

“If I won’t, then you can’t as well, do you agree?” Gautam said with little frustration streaking through his eyes.

Kamesh face was squeaked while he looked at him intensively, “How can you say that. I am come from English medium background. If once I clear the written test,” he placed his hand above his head and swam it in the air, “I will through the Technical and HR discussion to have a job in my packet.”

“You mean, Tamil background students won’t get placed in MNC, eh?” Gautam said innocently. His dream was already flying towards the graveyard, he looked dismayed and in absolute confusion. Yes, he had studied in government public school but had scored good marks in tenth and twelfth exams. He was topper until his schoolings, after that he turned out to be a meager student in the college days. It was hard battle for him to learn the English from there, though he had strived to learn it good it was always eluded him. He knew how important the English language was, sometimes he had cussed himself for not able to speak fluently. It was much embarrassing even after he had finished his college degree, and he was being like a kid to learn this language.

“Here it is, learn to talk in English first,” Kamesh threw thirty days English speaking book on his face, Gautam was fumbled to catch it, “If you first know how to get introduce yourself in front of the technical panel, then that will be a great thing. I mean you will have a chance to sail through the technical discussion.”

The sticky and hot noodles were already caked and became dry. Kamesh had kept his huge eyes on it, “Man, don’t eat noodles. It will create insects in your stomach.” He warned at him. His main intention was to stop him from eating the noodles which he had brought two days back from the nearest provision store. It was his luxury item and he had fought with other guys to buy it. He had to say something ridiculous to make him stop eating, that what his primary concern now.

“Is it?” Gautam was befuddled and already he was making some arduous effort to retch out the half-baked maggi from his stomach, and his eyes were become thicker as he nodded him with his anxious brain.

“This time is okay, don’t take it next time, eh?” Kamesh said, as he stood up and walked down to him and bowed low and grabbed the small bowl from him and put his fat hand inside and scooped the bunch of noodles and pushed it into his large mouth and started smacking it like a heavy blackest devil was chewing something as shown in the thriller movies.

Gautam’s heart beat was skipped inside for a second and the beat went raising and falling in a nonlinear fashion. The dull and cowardly anger was sprouting up in him, but he was generous to not oppose him from eating it.

“See, I am taking the unhealthy food of yours, because I want you to live long,” Kamesh said, his voice was muffled and indiscernible and foolish.

Madhan was stirred now, and he slowly stretched his arms towards the sidewall from the straw mat. His body was still covered with the brown woolen blanket which he had bought from the bazaar especially to handle the heavy winter season in Bangalore. He snapped open his eyelids and saw that the pillar boy Kamesh was already smacking something inside his mouth.

“What the fuck are you eating in the early morning, eh?” Madhan said, as he yawned uncontrollably. His eye sight was still not clear, perhaps, the heavy booze he had drowned last night was still lingering in his upper head. He wanted to clear this messiness first, otherwise his thoughts flow won’t be fresh at all.

“Nothing man. This poor fellow woke up at 4am to do some software programs,” Kamesh said, pointing his finger at Gautam, who sat quivering next to him.

Madhan was chuckling hard as his left hand was placed on his chest and shook his head in mockery.

“What are you going to do? Don’t ruin your body man. See, how happily we are drowsing and leading our life here. Just learn from us and be a good fellow like us. It’s not a hostel like in the college. You can be free and do anything you want. I mean, if you have gut, bring a girl to this flat too. We don’t have any stopping plan to beat you down. What do you say, Kami,” Madhan said, as winked at him through the fringe of his sharp eyelid.

“Exactly man. I love you man,” Kamesh said, and threw a flying kiss at his friend.

Madhan smiled mercilessly while looking at Gautam, who was already sat like a beaten egg for a half-boil. He had lost the residue of confidence in gaining a job here, let alone handling these humbugs in this house. For a second he thought if he had come to a wrong place, but what to do, he had to stay here, otherwise he had to sleep in the platform. He was aware of his position better than anyone. All he can do now was to shut up his mouth and ass, and linger in the corner of this flat to grab any wicked job would be thrown at his disposal.

“You know one thing, he had cleaned the vessels and prepared breakfast,” Kamesh said, as held up the bowl towards him. His eyes were smiling indignantly as looked at Gautam, who was still numbed and speechless after seeing these fellows’ chaotic involvement.

Madhan guffawed, covering his mouth like a girl, “on seeing your sincerity, I feel like going to fall down at the feet of CEO of Microsoft to get a job offer for you. But who is gonna respect us man. They will throw us like a mosquitos after squeezing in between their fingers,” he said, flipping a derisive smile.

“Of course, you are right man. That’s why I gave him the English speaking book to learn and deliver good English in front of the coat suit officers. What do you say?” Kamesh said as cocked his head at Madhan.

“Yeah, that’s right. Let him learn the English first. See, being from the English background schools, we are still struggling here to get a meager offer, then think about your situation man,” Madhan said.

Gautam swallowed a thick lump down his throat. His eyes were already started aching, he felt like flying back to his home again. He tried to control this terrible thought, however, it was kept banging on his head at every second. It turned even worse at times, when his friends were shrouded behind him with deadliest suggestions with frantic realistic theories. He had already envisioned a gloomy future ahead of him, after hearing their assaulting comments on him.

“You better stop waking up in the morning. At least we would save the maggi, you know,” Kamesh said, as his left eyebrow raised above touching the brim of his forehead. His broad teeth were flashed into sniveling grin.

“Good catch,” Madhan snapped his fingers, “better be like our champ Lawrence, see he is still sleeping like Kumbhakarna. I think he knew very well about our financial situation, though he is a nerdy fellow.”

Kamesh laughed while kicking his one leg at Lawrence’s back, who rolled down on the other side and stopped. But his sleepiness was still smoothly sailing into his deepest dreams. Probably, he was dreaming about working in IBM or something. What else this geeky fellow would be capable of doing than this?

Gautam’s all hard work, his patience and his learning, had found no reason to cherish at the moment. He was literally heart broken and myriad of wicked thoughts were flowing thickly in his groggy mind. His mere existence here was questioned now, first he had to stabilize and learn quickly about things which mattered most. He didn’t know if he had to learn English or programs or how to deal with his maniacal friends. But he was sure of one thing. That to gather more strength and confidence he had to survive in the hardest storm would pass across him.

*

Chapter 3: Nasty dance

“C’MON GUYS WE WILL GO and roam around the city. It’s boring to stay here and see the same faces again and again,” Lawrence said. He was having a C FAQ (frequently asked questions) book in his hand. He felt like he had almost dissected this book and every concept in it were struck on his mind like glue.

Everyone was preparing for Sine&Cos Soft Inc interview on next Wednesday. They knew there would be a heavy competition for this selection process, so they had intensified their study for the last couple of days. Particularly, Gautam who had devoted most of the night time to work out the intricate software programs, though he had still expected himself that he might be ended with a clumsy performance in this interview.

“Yeah, I agree. My mind is burning at each time when I try to solve these aptitude questions,” Kamesh said, as showed his finger at the aptitude book (written by RS Aggarwal) which was kept besides to him.

“Shall we all go then?” Madhan said, stood up and turned his gaze at Gautam, who was still flipping the pages of the C book to understand the linked list program. He was good until the simple structures and nestled structures programs, once he cross this safe zone and jumped into the data structures, his mind would start spinning dangerously.

“What about you man?” Lawrence asked to Gautam, who looked up slowly and didn’t respond. He wanted to continue his damn study despite his friend’s harrowing troubles over him. This was his first interview in Bangalore, and his agitation and temptation was much larger than when he had attended an interview in Chennai. It’s totally a new atmosphere and challenges were peeked out at every corner he walked down.

“I think I stay here and continue my study, because I haven’t prepared well yet for the upcoming interview,” Gautam said in a slow mumbling voice, his fingers were twirling.

Kamesh and Madhan were piqued by his stubbornness to stay in the room despite their earnest request. Kamesh’s cheeks were flushed to reddish glow as he looked down at Gautam, “Hey mongoose, come we will go. I too haven’t gone through most of the topics. You know, I still don’t know what is that bullshit data structures mean. Let’s go, we will have fun. There were still three more days to cover for the interview. Let’s enjoy the life man,” he said.

“Yes, if you come to forum mall, there will be lots of fun waiting for you. Did you ever see blonde girls in the skirts with their white legs were showing and their tops were way below the neck?” Madhan teased him with his flaunting style of communication.

Gautam shook his head feebly like a patient who gets discharged from the critical ward.

“C’mon then, we will show you everything,” Lawrence had slapped his hand on the sides of his blue jeans, as dust specks flew from this jeans in thick cloud. Though it looked like a new jeans, he hadn’t washed it for a quite long time. Even he didn’t know if it was weeks or months.

“But I don’t have the money to spend extravagantly there,” Gautam said, fixed his eyes at him.

“Hah, you don’t have to spend a penny man. We will take care of it. You just come with us, that’s all we need. I mean, you enjoy a good time with us,” Lawrence said.

“Now, are you coming or not?” Kamesh blared. His monstrous breath was almost plunged at Gautam’s cheeks and made concaves in it. A nerve was stood out on his big forearm as he made a trouncing glance at him.

“Yeah, coming,” Gautam said, as slammed shut his book. He had natural obsessive frightness when Kamesh had commanded over him, and he couldn’t deny that fact. No wonder, his stout body and glaring look and heavy arms were always kept Gautam under control to him.

They four of them walked down the narrow lane to the bus stop, it was Sunday and the traffic was heavy at evening hours. The gentle dew was clinging in the air that blew across the roads, and the sun was hidden behind the clouds in the west and almost it had done a clean job today. The shops were pacing busy now and footfalls were growing heavier as evening turned out. Every bus crossed to them was crowded and the young people were thronging on the footboards. The whitish and blue bordered buses were displaying the Kannada letters on the top to signify where it was going and coming from. It was not an easy sight to read the name of the stopping since no in the group knew how to read Kannada.

“Do anyone know what the hell is written in these buses,” Madhan screamed out in frustration. When he stretched his long neck to read the letters in the long square board, not a single letter was amicable to him, he hated when they hadn’t given preference for English. There was a dull headache was slowly peeking out of his forehead when he ventured to read the names of the stops written in the signboard.

“I don’t know. It’s completely jumbled out. I couldn’t even relate a single word man,” Lawrence threw up his hands, sighing.

“They should have also written in English, it would have stopped the total confusion the other state people had to undergo here,” Kamesh said, his hands coursed through his bushy hair.

“But, the local politicians won’t allow it to happen,” Gautam said in a cautious tone, he was careful that he didn’t raise his voice amidst the people. He didn’t want to ruin the cordial relationship going in between the two neighborhood states.

“Hmm, you have got a valid point man. I agree that everyone wants to honor their native language, there was no harm in it, but still they should consider the problems faced by other people, isn’t?” Lawrence said in a sagely voice.

Madhan sniggered as chewed his lower lip, “At least be happy that we can go anywhere by identifying the bus numbers, though we have to disturb someone to know the bus numbers exactly,” he said.

“Buddies no more talking, 201A bus is coming so let’s get into it,” Kamesh beckoned his big hand at them to shut their mouths.

The bus crawled towards the bus stop where they stood and stopped with a big jerk; it was completely packed and hardly had any space inside. It was not an easy task to get inside, let alone having a seat and getting some breathing air from the window. They four of them huddled inside the bus. Everyone was bruising each other as they crammed and gasped without air circulation, though it was cool outside still the passengers shirts were clung to their bodies with enormous sweat. People were chatting all about their work and the stupid things the neighborhood people had done, and they actually wanted to claim themselves as mighty persons in front of everyone. But it would always exist in their imaginary perception, won’t you think so?

“Who is gonna take tickets man?” Kamesh said, fished his finger into his shirt packet and came with an empty hand.

“Who else? Madhan is the only able person can do this,” Lawrence said, gripping his hand on the thick iron bar, which was running across the ceiling of the bus.

Madhan lowered his head with nonchalance; he didn’t want to take tickets now, because already he had spent more than three thousand rupees generously this month for taking tickets for them (particularly for going interviews back and forth). His fund in the bank account was thinning like skinless bones now, he was aware that his father had declined him of giving more than five thousand from next month onwards. His hands should be thrift from now onwards, otherwise he had no choice but turn as a mendicant.

“Anyone is going to take tickets or what?” the conductor sneered at them, his hand was hovering past their faces thrice as of now. He was sweating out hard at the moment, though the cold breeze was sweeping across the streets. His face was dripping out the salty water.

Gautam stood quietly with guilty heart, as his hand often passed over his shirt packet and dropped down suddenly, because he never had more than forty rupees in it. He was sure it was not going to help him to take the tickets, so he had to tighten his ass.

“Give four tickets,” Madhan said, handing him a fresh hundred rupee note. The conductor had punched holes on the tickets and gave it to him sullenly.

“This is the last time you are receiving an allowance from my side. From next month onwards someone has to take responsibility,” Madhan busted out, as he nodded at Gautam, who stood breathless and closed his eyes. Kamesh and Lawri didn’t worry about his jouncing comments because they had heard him many times saying this and it had least bothered them.

The bus had trodden past all types of huge commercial shops and software companies and had sped towards the forum mall through the Koramangala. It was impossible for them to know the stop where to get down, since all the side windows of the bus was covered with advertisements, and some hoardings. If you want to get down somewhere, you have to mentally calculate the timing it had taken so far, or should carefully count how many bus stops it had been halted on the way or you have to identify by the area smell. Do you think it was funny? Then, you should try at least once.

Finally they had got down at Forum Mall stop, opposite to Robert Bosch, which was a German based software company. Everywhere you go in the city, you will find at least a single software company lurking behind you. That’s for sure. The city had bred so many companies like that. That was the achievement of the modern people who were swarming in this place like bees.

Kamesh pulled in a huge breath as he looked up at the big mall which had welcomed them royally. His eyes were glittered immediately, as he entered inside. His friends were followed him like his minions. Gautam was somewhat felt nervous and agitated, because it was a new place and he didn’t know how to behave himself. The roaring music was coming surreptitiously and fell on his ears. Bang. He was jostled up and his nerves were standing out on his back of the neck to dance, though he wasn’t a big dancer or anything. The young girls and boys were conducting a fearless competition to dance on the ground floor, as people from the top floors peeking down at them and clapping in a rigorous style. The whole place was something good and fascinating. It made people to forget their week long worries and seeded a new hope and happiness in their festering souls. That was good and indeed people are looking for such atmosphere to forget their egos and live every moment in a cheerful spirit. Gautam was able to witness it himself. In fact, he had a big concern that he couldn’t able to dance like the young people did in the small stage.

Gautam had watched a slim and rosy girl curiously. Her dance movements were fresh and stimulating. She looked taller and close to his height, had a round silky face, her eyes were clean and pristine like fresh morning dew, had a long and shiny legs, and up thrusting breasts. She wore a maroon T-shirt and black tight jeans, and flexing her legs like a gymnast in a splendid style. For a second, he thought she was a professional dancer to swing her legs like that. She had actually performed a solo dance for the chammak challo song. Huge and thunderous claps hit the roof of the building when she had finished her dancing. The crowd was almost filled with ecstasy when they had witnessed such an upheaving performance there. People were gathered in masses, and clicking photos of her, someone had really tried to click a selfie with her.

“Wow, she had done a brilliant performance man, did you look at her swing of the waist. That was really awesome, you know,” Lawrence said.

“Someone would be very lucky to have her. Her full lips and shining face is great to watch,” Kamesh said, prodding his hand over Madhan’s skull.

“You are impossible man. I told you about her dance performance, but you are talking bullshit,” Lawrence said in a snappy and jeering tone.

“Hey, c’mon, but what are you going to do with her dance. At the end you wanted to know if there is a chance to fuck her or not,” Kamesh said in an aggressive voice, as slapped his both palms. He sometimes speaks too frankly and couldn’t recognize that he was in the common place. That shows he would become so aggressive when it comes to argue something (very trivial?).

“Kami, you better shut your filthy mouth. People are watching us,” Madhan silenced him. His hand gripped his fat wrist tightly.

Kamesh withdrew his hand from his grip, and started looking at the girl again. On the other hand, Gautam was already blushing and feeling shy to look at her. He stood behind his friends and looked at her in between their shoulder gap.

“C’mon, is there anyone wants to dance with this gorgeous girl, it’s your good chance to have a partner like this for you to dance here now,” the campaigner announced in the mike. He was looking slim and handsome, and he was rocking through his flamboyant English. The girl was blushed initially after hearing his enchanting speech on attracting audience to dance with her. It was really a proud moment for her, and there was no doubt about it. But still she had that professional spirit to find her partner now. She had seemed to be little tired now, as drops of sweat clinging on her black and thick eye brows. She drew her floral white kerchief from her jeans packet and gently dabbed over her face, as looked into the crowd. She looked simple and quite, and she didn’t wish to behave arrogantly due to her success.

“Is there no one in this crowd to dance with such a beautiful girl? Oh goodness, c’mon boys don’t miss this golden opportunity to clasp your hands with such a dreaming queen,” the campaigner had given all praise to her, making her plunge into a stream of blushing. She ran her thin and soft hand over her strands of jet black hair which had fallen in front of her face and flicked it splendidly behind her left ear. There was an abundance of girlishness in that soft flick. She didn’t aware of it, but Gautam had noticed her every movements very closely and he was almost exhilarated by her spotless beauty.

“Reshmi, it seems to be you have to select your partner from this group, I think they are feeling shy to ask for your hand,” the campaigner said, as looked into her face.

It’s not that people were feeling shy to ask for her hand to dance, in fact, everyone was bursting with happiness to take her to home or park or beach. People were felt afraid because they couldn’t match their feet movements with her impeccable dancing performance. That was the major worry with everyone who stood there watching about her dance and adoring her beauty. Even the married men had ogled with her stunning performance, early on. It’s damn true that she was so beautiful.

“Okay, I will choose one,” Reshmi said, she first looked up at the crowd standing in the top floors leaning on the rails. Everyone had waved their hands as smiled at her. She returned their smiles with her fully gorgeous lips. After all, they had fully enjoyed her dance show for the last twenty minutes or so, they had deserved her cheery smile back. But until now she hadn’t called or pointed her finger at anyone to dance with her.

A mob of youngsters from behind her had shouted saying “we wanted to dance with you.” It looked like they had just come now. They were stylish and had spectra of different hair styles and tattoos in their arms to claim they were modern boys. Some of them wore baggy trousers and armless t-shirts to draw the girl’s attention.

Reshmi had brought her head low and looked at them, she laughed upon seeing at them, not because they were looked like crooked boys, just because they were chanting her name in an awkwardly and mocking manner. Her anticipation to find her match was growing rapidly, as she kept scanning the crowd through her dark eyes and finally stopped at Gautam, who was lingering in between his friends and his eyes weren’t met her. In fact, he was looking down. It created some emotional conflict in her mind, and she suddenly threw her index finger at him and said, “I will dance with this boy.”

“Hurrah, let’s give a big clap for this lucky lad,” the campaigner was magically weaving his speech now. People were started clapping and anxiously waited for her partner to show up right now.

Kamesh thought she had pointed at someone in the back, but he was still not sure that she had called Gautam.

“Call that boy, yes you…” the campaigner, pointed his finger at Kamesh, who had turned at his back and looked curiously to know who the luckiest fellow was.

Madhan knew he was calling at Gautam, so he gently prodded on his shoulder and asked him to go and enjoy the show. He had pitied himself for not getting a chance to clasp with her fingers, though he was sure of giving a ridiculous show in front of a huge crowd. But still he wanted his friend to enjoy this opportunity, he didn’t have such a hackneyed intolerance and ego to curse at him, that way he was far better than Kamesh.

Gautam scratched his back of the head and ran his hand over his chest as he lingered behind his friends. He had never expected such an offer would be given to him on seeing her for the first time, it was nothing less than a wildest dream he had always pined for. But all he wondered was, would he really have the courage to handle this right now? That was his biggest question now. There was no doubt that his appearance was never close to her glorious figure with his tall and lean posture and rough features. What was the thought process in her head when she had called him out for a dance with her? It was a million dollar question for him at the moment. Am I looking stupid and so ignoble or what? Am I a ridiculous fool among the whole crowd? These were the thoughts kept buzzing over his head as he slowly stepped into the stage. Lawrence had seen he was fumbling to get into the stage, so he had hurled his hand over his shoulder and pushed him forward. Gautam had jerked for a second as nodded back at his friend, who was smiling back idiotically.

The campaigner had shook a hand with him at last and asked the crowd once again to give big applause for this lad for having the courage to dance with this worldly beauty. Unexpectedly, there was a gentle and soft blush escaped through Reshmi’s eyes. She looked at Gautam, who was stood there nervous and looked down on the stage all the time. He didn’t have that real sportiveness to share a space with her. All he worried was how ugly am I going to look next to her, when people watch my stupid and ungainly dance.

“Hello,” Reshmi greeted at him for the first time. Gautam knew that she had spoken to him, but his perturbed facial reaction said, that he was no match to her to accept her greetings now. He had meant it as he threw an abashed grin at her.

“Oh, champ what’s your name?” the campaigner asked him.

“Gautam,” his friends had crooned from behind.

“Thanks guys, for your uplifting spirit on your friend and for us,” the campaigner said and turned at Reshmi, “So guys let’s begin your dance show. The crowd is waiting for this moment. C’mon let’s hit the music.”

The music from Chennai express had started roaring now, Reshmi was slow at the beginning but once the music had picked up the momentum, she had enthralled the show with her thin and spinning legs. There was nothing to comment on this. Everyone’s eyes were merely ogled upon seeing her stunning and captivating movements in the air. All had wondered from where to where her legs and arms were going on. It was just like a magic show. On the other hand Gautam was looked like a small kid in front of her experienced and well-choreographed performance. He was literally shaking his legs and arms without any resemblance to the rhythm or words of the song. All he wanted now was, just to escape from there without showing his face again to her. He knew he was giving an utter flop show that no one dared to forgive him. He wondered if a fifth grade student would have performed far better than him in front of a dazzling girl like that. But all the while he had seen her performance through his one eye and exhilarated about her each move, and that was the only pardonable thing he was doing right now. At least he would run her show in his mind after going home, and let this memory soak him in entranced state for next couple of months while dealing with raucous people in the city. There was nothing more admirable thing happened in him than he was sweating profusely at the moment for shaking his legs in clamorous jolt. That was his highest prize he had earned so far here. As people had given a thunderous applause, the dance show had ended in a good and amicable note.

“That was a fabulous performance once again, thank you Resh,” the complainer said, and placed his hand over Gautam’s shoulder, “this lad had tried something good to go in line with her. Great effort man. Thanks for joining us.”

With that warm note the show got ended. He didn’t show his face to her again. In fact, that was good for him to keep his manliness intact.

*

Chapter 4: Apathy and empathy

ON NEXT THURSDAY, THE FOUR of them had prepared for the Sine&Cos Soft Inc, interview in whitefield. Gautam had gone through all the important programs that he would muster up within his ability. Also he had run a marathon show for last couple of nights on resolving the aptitude test. But still there was no clarity in his mind whether he would clear the written test at least. That was his only aspiration as of now that to clear the written test at least, because he hadn’t yet clear this test in big MNC interviews, though he had quite done with a few small companies. So he was determined to clear with all his might. On the other hand, Kamesh was puking on his notebook whatever the cheap tricks and crook methods he had learnt in shoddy books. One of the biggest concerns for him right now was to attend the interview to gain the experience, and nothing more or less. Because he was sure that he was going to lose the interview at the first short listing process itself. How can one win the battle without preparedness? You should applaud him for having that clarity in his heart. Apart from him, Madhan was as usual had done the preparation, but still not sure how it was going to help him. He always had complications in his life, even though there was no such real complexity exists in the world. That was his special talent. Lawrence, the only nerdy in the room was pouring the programs on his head, and the more he did the programs the more he wanted to know about it. His speculation about his own talent was large, also he was skeptical and mysterious to others who were new to know him. He always doubted his ability to perform in the interviews, and still he hadn’t quite believed himself that one day he would become a victorious person, nevertheless he had a potential to earn that opportunity he was craving at.

The day had seen early morning drizzles and was colder than last three days, but it was good atmosphere to travel and enjoy oneself. They four were travelled through the city bus and stopped in front of the Sine&Cos Soft Inc to attend the interview. The queue was significant but it was not overwhelming either, like the one they had attended a week before. They firmly attached themselves with the queue by holding the files in their hands and anxiously looking for their turn. There was no separate queue for girls, and some of the boys were took the opportunity to find their soulmates here, but girls were frantic as they drenched in their last moment cameo on preparing the programs to clear the interview. It was a tedious queue, and Kamesh was couldn’t stand for more than fifteen minutes in his place, as he often scurried back into the roadside shop to blew a cigar smoke out from his mouth. That had eased him and gave him a shoddy strength to stand for some more time. The others were waited sincerely.

Gautam was unaware that Reshmi was standing in the back, but there were a couple of boys (none other than Madhan and Lawrence) in the middle of them. In fact, both of them had never noticed it, though they had a fleeting time together in the forum mall. If Gautam knew she was there, it would be his biggest shock since he had never thought of her being an aspiring software engineer. He had imagined her as a great dancer and acting in a film or something, but definitely not as an engineer. It was first Reshmi, who had noticed Gautam when he had gone out to drink water from the container which kept on the office floor. Reshmi had whisked her hand at him twice, but he didn’t notice her. She had forgotten his name. Of course, she had no idea that she was going to meet him for the second time.

“Hey, here,” she called louder this time. Madhan had turned to look at her.

“Brother, can you call him. I wanted to talk with him,” Reshmi said to him. Madhan’s nose was itching to bleed now on hearing her to call him bro.

Madhan had slapped his hand on Lawrence’s shoulder, as he glared at him, “Call that somber Gautam, man. She wanted to talk with him.”

Lawrence had smiled ingeniously at her, as she returned a warm smile back. She was looking in her casual black and blue salwar kammez, and it was apt to her honey brown color skin. The sleeve of the kameez had come down to her elbow and her tender and strong bosom was covered with dupatta. No, wonder they hadn’t recognized here after seeing her in a trendy dress wear in the mall on last week.

“Gauti, let’s see who is calling at you,” Lawrence said, as hit him on the back of his head.

Gautam squirmed his head and rubbed his hand over the spot where his friend had hit him now. He turned abruptly and looked at Lawrence, who showed his thumb finger back at Reshmi. She was full of smile when she gazed at him as if he was her ardent lover. She beckoned her hand at him and curled her lean fingers to say hi to him. Gautam was plunged into full of shy and he tightened the file in his hand as if he wanted to stand firmly.

“Bro, could you please go to his place and send him here,” Reshmi requested Madhan, whose eyes were exploded to scream now. He puckered his lips in a snarl and hit his upper thigh with his mighty hand. He averted his eyes at Gautam and screwed him indistinctively.

“Come here,” Madhan muttered.

The long queue was slowly moving into office premises because the screening process was happening in batch wise. It looked like they had to wait there all through the evening to take their written test. If you need to get a job in multinational company, you should have patience as your first qualification, and next comes the technical ability at the fore.

Gautam was surprised at her request, because he had never expected a girl to give him an importance. He knew that he was considered as one of the worthless fellows in the world. Here all of a sudden a girl was calling him, that too she was good looking and stunningly beautiful like a dancing peacock. He slowly slid in front of her replacing Madhan. He had never spoken to a girl that closely, in a breathing space. Definitely he wasn’t going to open his mouth, it was already kept shut as if it had been plastered, and he stood silently before her.

“So, you have done engineering?” Reshmi asked. There was no wonder everyone who was born in this country, their foreheads had been marked with an engineer or doctor. We are chasing down the security and losing our freedom. That’s what happening here. Do you agree?

“Yeeess,” Gautam said, to utter this word he took five seconds, there was a hollow of silence stood in between them during that time.

“Are you feeling all right?” Reshmi asked, feeling worried if she had asked something irrelevant question with him.

“I’m fine. I....I….just don’t know what to talk,” Gautam stammered. His eyeballs were rolling continuously and he couldn’t frame the right words to talk with her. It’s like he was struggling to speak in foreign language. Of course, speaking to a girl is required a separate training center to excel oneself. Not to be surprised if some centers would have opened in the future to learn this art.

“Ask something what you want to know from me,” Reshmi said, cracking a thin smile. Her lips were slightly stroked with glossy pink lipstick. It was tempting to look at her, having such a glorious face.

“Why are you standing here?” Gautam put it bluntly. He had no idea what he was talking to her. This was a bad way to start with any girl. He had only recognized it when she was slightly shown her upset face, but it stayed for some ephemeral time and she was back on the track with full of jostling again. She just brushed aside his blunt question and put a smile on her gleaming eyes. That way she had thrown good amount of maturity than him.

“Oh, anyway, if you don’t know, I am an engineer too. I have done computer science in MIT College in Chennai,” she said, and winked at him. She didn’t have any pompousness when she had interacted with him, she was straightforward and friendly nature. That really had stupefied him. How an adorable girl like her can talk with me in an easy way without looking for any glamor or style. He knew definitely that he was lacking both of it. There was no lingering doubt about it.

Kamesh had returned after his smoke workout, and he couldn’t believe his eyes when Gautam was talking with Reshmi. He had inserted himself between Lawrence and Madhan. Their stomach was burning as if gas station had been put on fire, as they watched them talk. Particularly Kamesh was disgusting with his vile heart.

“Nice. But I thought you are a dancer and trying to become an actress,” Gautam said.

She splashed a merry laugh, but in a restrained manner. Because others were watching at them as well, “You are must be fooling yourself thinking that I try become an actress,” she said as clutched her hands on her tenderly bosom and whipped a torrent of smiles.

Gautam didn’t take it easy. He knew that she was looking grand and no doubt she was keeping herself a low opinion or she might be pretending. Who knows? After all, one of the mysterious things in the world is trying to understand the girls. Boy, do you have a gut to oppose it?

“But what about dancing?” he asked, he wanted to clear all this doubts right now. He didn’t care if he gets selected in this interview or not.

“That’s for fun. That’s it. I loved to dance but it had never interfered with my studies. But if someone going to offer a chance in the films, I am not against it either. Because who wanted to lose a complete happiness in the form of dancing,” she said, as flicked a wisp of hair behind her ear.

“You dance well,” he said, for the first time he thought he had a timing right to praise her.

“Oh, thanks. Anyway shall we become good friends?” she said, as extended her sleek hand to him.

Gautam stood in shock and wondered what qualification he had to become a friend of her, that too shaking a hand with her was a blissful experience. He didn’t say anything but offered his hand. Something good was happening in his life and he didn’t want to stop that. Even when he had studied in the college, he didn’t get a chance to talk with girls closely, let alone hand shaking and smiling and laughing. He always held a low self-esteem with himself. This mystic moment had taught him that life can throw some good things at anyone who had lost their confidence, in some unknown circumstances. He had started believing himself now, his anger and vehemence with life was slowly blossoming with good fragrance. Reshmi was a great example for this. But how he was going to sustain with her in this life that was the biggest question had lurked behind his mind now. He had no answer for that. Only the life itself knows about it.

The HR executive lady had asked next batch to enter inside the office, to write a written test. There were totally fifty members per batch sat in a row of plastic chairs in the canteen in the roof top of the office premises. All companies would prefer the canteen space for conducting interviews because this is the only common place they can able to accommodate people in bunches. There was low whisperings and mumblings going on with the attendees as they seated in the chairs. The fat lady, who had thick question papers in her hands, issued it every person and asked them (in a husky voice) to complete the written test in forty five minutes. After this instruction, there was a pin drop silence ensued along the aisles, as the lady walked with her cunning eyes to avoid any malpractice. Kamesh was bursting with confusion and mangling his brain to throw any answer for the question, but no use, he wasn’t sure of any of the C questions. He was scratching his pen in the question paper to pass the time since he knew he was going to lose this chance too. On the other hand Madhan was fumbling to solve one of the double pointer questions. The first four questions were easy and within his brain’s capability, so he had done it quickly and quietly in an impressive way, but after that his problems had started to flow. The more he tried to solve the pointer problems, the more complex it had become, finally he had decided not to touch any of the questions related to pointer symbols, and finally he hated it more than anything in this world. He had doubted now, if he had any ability to go and work in the software company without knowing how to write this pointer programs. That was impossible man. You have to learn it, his mind echoed back at him. Lawrence was ecstatic when had solved fifteen C questions within five minutes, but after that the hell had encompassed him. He struggled to solve the complicated programs and the twisted aptitude questions. He scratched his head at each time he had come across a difficult question.

“Time up,” the lady said briskly in a loud uprooting voice, it had matched her big arms and legs. In fact, her cheeks did a workout in a twinkle of second.

Gautam had bounced up from his seat and stared at Madhan, who had lowered his thumb finger and puckered his lips with disappointment. He raised his head in questioning, asking what about you? Gautam returned a big grin awkwardly. Madhan knew what was that mean. He was half relieved by now, as he pressed his hand upon his chest as usual.

“Go and wait in the office room on the ground floor,” the HR lady blared again.

Reshmi had seated in the back and she was not satisfied with her intellectual performance here. She stood unhappy but still content with what she had done. She wrinkled her face when she nodded at Gautam.

“How did you do?” she asked him, as everyone rushed down the stairs to go and wait for the results to be announced in the office room.

“I am not a bright student to clear this test,” Gautam said, perhaps he sounded valor to talk with her now. His shoulders were drooped to convey his message. They both walked close to each other. His friends followed them with grieved hearts.

“I am not either, but something I had mugged up, you know,” she said as twirled her stands of hair. He smiled at her. He knew the bond between them was slowly brewing up. He liked when she gave blunt answers without hurting him. But he wanted to ensure that it didn’t break up very early on. So he still had maintained some decency while talking.

They waited for the written test results, all had their glum faces as they sat down in their seats in the office room. Gautam wanted to introduce her with his friends, who went ecstatic and jostling already. In fact, they had least worried about their results, now all they concerned was to have a cordial relationship with her. Kamesh was frantic and waiting desperately for his chance to speak with her.

“This is Kamesh,” Gautam said to Reshmi.

Kamesh’s face was lit up magnificently as held his face upright and flashing a childish grin, “Hello,” he said as he greeted her. His hands were twitching to handshake with her. But she had simply flashed a smile back. Kami was disappointed as his heart cried like a kid.

“This is Lawrence,” Gautam introduced him.

Lawrence glanced her with a sportive look and Kamesh went berserk when he had offered a hand to her. Not to say, she was generous enough to shove his hand by greeting him back.

“How did you do the test? Do you think are you going to clear it?” Lawrence threw an immediate question, which made her uneasy at first but she was intended to respond him back promptly.

“Yeah, its pretty tough, though I have done my part. Let’s see what life has store in favor of me,” Reshmi said as wrinkled her nose.

“That’s a good spirit,” Lawrence said, he raised his upper lip five inches above to confirm he had liked her petty answer.

She smiled as brought her both hands to her mouth and scooped her matted black hair behind her ear, just to ensure a tendril of hair still fell over her forehead.

“Okay, what about you?” she asked Madhan, who was screaming inside, when Gautam had neglected to introduce him first at her. Also he was embroiled when Reshmi went scooping her hair, not giving the importance he wanted to earn from her.

“Hi, I am Madhan, the three are staying in my room,” he said with a glaring enthusiasm. She had squinted her eyes for a few seconds. His friends had thrown an indignant and atrocious glance on hearing his boasting comment in front of her. In fact, Madhan had earned fifty percent of his share in advance while booking the room, so naturally he had an upper hand.

“Is it?” she said, looking at Gautam for his confirmation.

“Yeah, I had joined this room a couple of weeks back,” Gautam said, he felt a little embarrassment to look at her eyes straight. He knew that Madhan had been the major financier in the room and it would create unwanted environment if he choose to go against his wish. Hence he was silent and followed the spirit of mourning in situation like this.

“Oh, that’s great to meet you all. I feel like I have found some interesting community to share my thoughts,” she said, as looked at them curving her eyebrow up in a hysterical fashion, “would you?”

“Of course,” there was a nonlinear chorus erupted between them. Kamesh was the first person to show every bit of extra enthusiasm to embrace her.

The HR lady sprinted back to the waiting room, and announced, “dear boys and girls, I have the results on who have cleared the written test, are you ready guys,” she cheered at students. She wanted to bring back their lost energy because she had found some of them were already encompassed with anxious and depressing faces as if their whole life balanced precariously in this written test.

“Yes, mam,” there was a meekly response from the students. Kamesh didn’t open his mouth and yawned instead. He knew he was definitely going to flunk this test. But Lawrence’s eyes widened to snatch the list from the lady and see it rapidly. Have patience boy, you should wait to cross the milestones.

Reshmi closed her eyes and clasped her fingers tightly as she recited some prayer. It was a gloomy excitement that caught her in stifling knots. It was her eighth interview in the past two months and desperately waiting to smooch this job offer. She had received some BPO offers early on, but she was stubborn to find her luck in the technical arena.

The HR lady had read first five names, and none of them were belonged to Gautam group. Lawrence had killed his anticipation to clear this test, but before his name was announced in a loud voice. The first reaction from Kamesh was to slap on his forehead and looked at him threateningly as if he had done some heinous act. Madhan was fuming with aghast on hearing this incredible thing about Lawrence, who was on the other hand jostling with ferocious happiness. Reshmi had squeaked her lower lip and praised him with a gentle squeal.

“That’s great master work from you. But you said, you haven’t done well, isn’t?” Reshmi said. Lawrence had waggled his mouth and threw an unsophisticated smile.

All eyes stared upon her face.

“He is a terrible liar, you know. You don’t believe him,” Madhan said, his eyes were burning like candle wicks.

Kamesh gave a whack on Lawrence’s shoulder and squeezed his arm, “if you get a job, we won’t allow in our room then,” he said stubbornly. He had really meant it. You should have seen his face that time. It was morose and hollowed and gloomy.

Reshmi had a naughty laugh as she covered her fingers over her crispy lips.

“What about you Gautam? You are also a miracle worker, eh?” Reshmi cajoled, as she winked her left eye at him.

Gautam shook his head and nodded her substantially, “There was not even a five percent of chance to clear it. If I had, then the world would collapse.”

He drew a charm dimple from Reshmi on her right cheek, as she flushed gingerly.

“I can’t believe you until she had read the complete list,” Reshmi said, as she stared at the lady, who was chaffing to finish the list, still some five odd names left behind to be read out.

The HR lady drew Aquafina water bottle and removed a cap and poured water into her mouth to drench her dried big throat. She blew out huge air as started reading again.

Reshmi had already decided that she was failed in this mission as well. But there was no despairing mood lingered in her spotless white face, instead she caressed her thoughts to smoothen her wild feelings. At least she was going to be happy for meeting this bunch of idiots. She had already some soft corner for Gautam, but still it was in earlier stage to get bloomed.

“The last and final candidate who have cleared the written test is Reshmi,” the HR lady boomed and folded the paper.

The boys were already thrusting her hands to greet Reshmi, who was floating in the Jupiter planet now. Her both hands went to her cheeks and flushed grandly to emote her speechless feelings. That was block buster game for her, to clear a written test for such a big MNC.

“You are the miracle worker finally,” Gautam said and crooned.

“Oh goodness, I simply can’t believe this, you know. Because I know how madly I had attended this written test,” she said, her face was cracking with wonderful smiles.

“So, guys have a great time here. We have to leave now,” Kamesh said, feeling offended after his long list of continuous failures in the written tests.

“Hey stay here, don’t go, let’s see how this technical interview goes ahead,” Lawrence said, as hooked Kamesh hand to make him sit down again.

“Yeah, please stay here, I will have some confidence to face the army of interviewers, you know,” Reshmi said, as she glared at Gautam, through her fringe of an eye.

Clearly she had yearned for Gautam to stay there, that feeling was shown in her soft sooty eyes.

“Okay, we will stay put until you have a job in your hand,” Kamesh said in a reckless spirit. He had meant it only for Reshmi, not for Lawri. These words were rolling out of his mouth with heavy weight. He was pining to get a cigar in his hand now. You could see his lower jaw was twitching uncontrollably.

“Me too,” Madhan hummed behind him.

“God knows if I ever destined to clear this interview or not?” Reshmi mumbled, as she crisscrossed her finger in front of her chest. Yes, she was Christian, Gautam had just aware of it now. He felt frightened as if a spear had just punctured his heart. No, he had no clear idea about why he was shuddering right now, but the mere thought that she had belonged to a different religion had separated him from her virtually. There was already a thin extraterrestrial relationship was going on in between them. He didn’t want to ruin it. He suspected her name, but he didn’t want to dig on it further.

“Lawrence should report to technical manager right now,” the HR lady blared in abrupt and snappy tone.

Lawrence had adjusted his collar at the back of his neck, and smoothed his front of the shirt as he looked at his friends before he headed into the technical discussion room.

“Man, don’t hurt me by getting selected in this interview. I wish you won’t get selected,” Kamesh said, as guffawed very lightly.

“Just think once about how we are enjoying in the room. If you get a job, you have to lose all the enjoyment, you know,” Madhan said sarcastically, as showed his thumb finger down at Lawrence.

“Hello boys, I have never seen such wishes from anyone in my life,” Reshmi said and smiled thickly and gazed at Gautam, “Don’t you curse on him too?”

“All the best man,” Gautam said, looking up at him. He was dull and upset after his exit from the interview screening test. At least he had a big heart to wish his friend, without hurling any grudges unto him.

“Wow, you have some courage buddy,” Reshmi said, applauded him without a shout. Her hands were clapped with a low and thrumming noise.

Lawrence had ambled across the room to discuss with the technical panel, who were sat in semi circle to attack him with exuberant and lofty technical artilleries.

“Take your seat,” the old man said. Perhaps, he wasn’t that old to get a retirement in the government job, but he was bald and not a single hair stood up on his skull. His skin was not withered yet, and his whiskers were large and frightening.

“Thank you sir,” Lawrence sat down.

Three of them screwed up his resume as if the election commission was scanning the nomination file of the contestant.

“Tell us about you,” the old man whisked his hand at him.

Lawrence had said his biography in a brief note that really had exasperated the old grumpy fellows in the interview panel. He had fumbled a little at first, but gathered a momentum after this initial glitch. After that two more solid figures had hurtled slew of technical bombards on him. He had responded moderately well to all C questions except some of the twisting questions posed from communication and electromagnetic theories. The interviewers were looked at each other for a period of second as if they had spoken in silence, and glared at him with a cold heart.

“C’mon, first tell me why we should give you a job,” the old fellow asked, he ran his stubby finger around his eyes and wiped the black oily smudges away.

“Because, I am jobless and waiting to showcase my talent with the baffling project works in your company,” Lawrence said. He was stunned at his own mockery, and bit his tongue for letting ruin this opportunity, because the old fellows looked grumbled and mourned at him on hearing him. But he was novice to know the fact that they were always enunciating such facial expressions in the office hours too, particularly in the interviews it would look terrible and sometimes intimidating too.

“Hmm, why you should handle baffling projects?” the man who had long side burns was pissed off. He looked like the man from 1970s, wearing the wider white pants at the feet and tight pink shirt. He looked scrawny and you could see the bones in his face, clinging to the fatless skin.

“Because I knew that’s why you are paying for me. Also I have to handle all the pressure mounting up on my shoulders while handling such cumbersome projects,” Lawrence weaved a thin smile.

“Good…impressive answers. Actually we are waiting to hug the people who knew it was a daunting work to do in the software industry. I mean, we are pleased to have you on board,” the old fellow said, as he nodded his colleagues to heed their consent.

“But one thing,” the long nosed fellow said, stroking his nose at sides as he looked at Lawrence, “Do you know how many hours you are going to work for this company?”

Lawrence thought it was a hypothetical question, as he mused for a few seconds. He knew it was an eight hour ritual mentioned in the papers but actually it would stretch beyond twelve hours or fourteen hours per day too. He had heard from some seniors saying that software engineers had no definite time to adhere strictly, it’s all depends on their project schedules and delivery commitment. Also they added this remark as a show cause notice. But the schedules were always overwhelming, and employees couldn’t expect to work less than twelve hours per day.

“It depends on work sir. Ten hours per day is the average,” Lawrence said. He was proud of his answer.

“It looks like we have already found sync between you and the company,” the old fellow said, twirling his mustache, “You can go and wait, we will announce the offer officially. But you will be having a formal HR interview before you receive anything from us.”

Lawrence threw an enchanting smile as he grabbed his file and squeezed out from the interview room. He knew that the HR interview was nothing but, simple verification process of his certificates and academic qualification. He headed straight into the HR room.

“That’s it, Lawrence. We have done with you, if you have any questions please ask us,” the HR manager said. Mind it, he asked this question for the sake of asking questions but not really with the intention of taking slew of questions on his head.

“Sir, what is the package?” Lawrence asked.

The HR raised his left eye brow up and glared at him for a second, “you will be getting the same basic salary what other fresher’s are receiving now,” he was quite irritated when he had asked the question at him, because as said he didn’t the newcomers questioning him.

“But what salary fresher’s are receiving?” Lawrence asked, once again. He didn’t want to give up with his mission of knowing the answer.

“You have to ask the freshers,” the HR responded, ran his palm over his left hand. The red blood was dancing in between his eyes as he stared at Lawri.

Lawrence was offended by his revolting answer, but still he was soaking in happiness for having had cleared the interview. He was now damn sure that he was going to get selected. At least he didn’t want to give up his hope on earning a job.

“Okay, you go and wait outside,” the HR said in a coarse voice.

Lawrence had thrown his file up and down as he walked towards his friends in the waiting room. He was bubbling with tremendous spirit as he glared at his friends grandiosely.

“Why are you smiling man? Don’t tell me that you get selected in this interview,” Madhan said, his thin mustache was twitching as he gritted his teeth. Of course, he would worry at least the whole week if he had received an offer.

Lawrence didn’t respond but stayed silent with an inflated pride.

“C’mon tell me man what happened?” Gautam asked. There was an ogling anticipation stood in his eyes, to know the result.

“Looks like they are going to offer me the job,” Lawrence said as ran his file on the tip of his index finger like a wheel.

Kamesh’s heart beat was suddenly halted on hearing him. There was no pulse in his eyes as if he had been dead. Each and every body parts in his body were stalled for a minute since he couldn’t digest this news.

“Congrats,” Reshmi beamed, and offered her hand generously.

“We are not going to allow you to enter the room. I had listed out the benefits you are going to miss when you get selected, isn’t? But you are a cheater man,” Madhan bellowed, fuming at each word. His left eye had crinkled to shed a tear.

“Ah, this is not the time to blow your nose. Let’s congratulate him for reaching a milestone,” Reshmi said.

“We can’t forgive him for cheating us like this,” Kamesh stifled his chest in front of her.

“It’s all up to you guys. What do you think Gautam?” Reshmi asked.

Gautam had twisted his head, he didn’t want to hurt none of them, most importantly he couldn’t injure Reshmi’s heart for sure, “It’s a good thing that he had cleared this interview. At least one of us has earned a job.”

“It is our mistake not to expel you from our community,” Madhan started mumbling. Lawrence quietly slapped on his shoulder and sat next to him. Madhan had removed his hand and threw a threatening look as if he had an extramarital affair with his wife.

The HR executive had come forward and announced Reshmi to take the technical interview. Reshmi was suddenly caught with fit of fear and nervousness as she sprang up from her seat and scurried down to meet the technical crew. Their faces were immediately brightened as she entered in. The old man was checking his lip balm on his tongue as he passed his tongue over it. The long sideburns man was adjusting the tie around his neck, and the other fellow was checking the thickness of his hair length as prodded his hand over his skull.

“So, you are Reshmi,” the thick nosed man said, there was a heavy competition among them to interview her.

Reshmi accentuated her head and looked at them amiably, one by one. Their skin tone was improving fairly when she looked at them.

“Why are you joining our company?” the old fellow asked.

The question had almost stupefied Reshmi, because the question was unexpected and made her uncomfortable.

“Because I want to have a job,” she said. Reshmi thought she had given a fair answer, though it wasn’t a convincing one.

“Consider you have a job in your hand. Then what are the expectations you are having with us?” the sideburns man asked.

Reshmi didn’t know where they were driving this interview into. All she wanted to know now was why such crippling questions had been posted at first round itself.

“I have expectations, like….” She struggled and paused for a few seconds and said, “to have a good technical skillset while working with intelligent people like you.”

That’s it. The job offer was stamped on her forehead now, because the technical panel was bursting with immeasurable pleasure.

“Great,” the old fellow slapped his hand on the table with vigorous spirit.

Then a few simple programs were asked to claim she was a creative programmer in the software industry. Reshmi had already worked out these programs at least hundred times before this interview like a school imposition. She had done it with ease and waited for the right time to plunge out of the room.

“Thanks Reshmi, you have done quite well with our tough interview process, now you are through to attend the HR interview in the next room,” all three of them, flashed a sumptuous smile. Their broad and straight and crooked teeth threatened her to get out of the room immediately. And she did so.

She then hustled into the HR room. She didn’t even sit down. The fellow had screened her top to bottom and asked her to leave out immediately. She was worried if she had done any blunder by not greeting him quickly once she entered into the room. But that wasn’t the case, silly, she didn’t know the fact.

“Why are you low Reshmi? Is something had gone wrong?” Gautam said, as she seated beside him.

“They asked me a completely different set of questions. It’s kind of weird you know,” she said and scrunched her face.

“Hey, don’t worry. They too asked me irrelevant questions and I was completely baffled. But in the end, we need our jobs, that’s it,” Lawrence said quietly.

“They asked me simple programs and nothing more, I think they would have decided I was worthless for doing the software job,” Reshmi said, as she bit her glossy tip of nail in the ring finger.

“Bastards. Then why don’t they ask hassle-free questions in the written test,” Madhan moaned. He felt like he had been cheated. His face was drooling with unhappiness.

“Perhaps, they wanted to throw out screaming fellows like you,” Lawrence suggested cleverly. He wanted to retaliate for making him sad when the HR lady announced that he had cleared the written test. He was still not yet came out of his tragic suggestion that they would expel him from the room.

“You just shut up your mouth man. You don’t talk to us, we have lost our faith on you.” Kamesh shouted. His hands were fisted and his eyes were trembling, as if he wanted to fight with him. Boy, he was really feeling very bad, you know.

“Sh….sh…sh,” Reshmi put her finger on her lips and stared at them. She had never thought they would be fighting each other like street kids, but somehow she was impressed with them for their novice behavior.

“In five minutes we will come to know who have been selected,” Gautam said. He had tried to bring the composure in their agitated faces. Lawrence let a frantic sigh and pounded his hands on the armrests of the chair.

Once again, the fatty HR lady brought a printed paper in her hand and nodded briefly at the candidates who were waiting for the results to be announced. The paper rustled in her hand as she propped it in front of her eyes and adjusted her square spectacle at the rims of it.

“So, the much awaited final results about the selected candidates would be announced now,” the lady roared in a manly voice. Her big bosom heaved inside her buttoned shirt.

There was a deep silence deposited in the room, as they stared at the lady. But their hearts were thundering inside their chests as they had anxiously stretched their necks like cranes.

“There are nine candidates have been selected out of eighth hundred people had participated in this interview process. It’s my pleasure to wish everyone whoever has earned this job offer,” she glanced at their faces, “Anyway, I could see the anticipation in everyone’s faces, so let me announce the list now.”

Lawrence had swallowed a tennis ball size lump down his throat. He wondered if he had really been selected since the list of the selection was very short. He thought he would be trimmed out of the list in the final process. The first four names hadn’t belonged to them. The selected people were drenching in surplus happiness as they heard the HR lady announce their names. Reshmi had sat on the edge of the chair and waited impatiently for her name to thunder in her ears.

“Reshmi,” the lady said, a cheerful roar came from her newly friends. Reshmi heaved a relaxed sigh and breathed peacefully after a few minutes. She clutched her hands on top of her healthy breasts and pressed it down.

Madhan and Kamesh were eased as of now, since Lawrence name was still hanging in the death knell. Gautam’s heart was mesmerized and fluttered as Reshmi had received a job offer. He didn’t care if Lawrence had it or not, because it wasn’t going to impact his feelings. But still he wished he would get selected.

Until the lady announced eight names, Lawrence’s name was not in the hot list, the tension among Madhan and Kamesh was slowly dying before the lady had read Lawrence’s name in her thick and blaring voice. His friend’s heart skipped a numerous beats when they had heard he was got selected. Kamesh’s chest was heaving up and down uncontrollably and his throat jammed to breathe. Madhan was shedding tears copiously to kill his wrenched feelings about his friend’s new job offer. In the end, Lawrence was no more jobless and his friends had to bow their heads before him.

*

Chapter 5: Booze medicine

THERE WERE ABOUT FOUR PACKS of cigars were piled up behind Kamesh’s bedding. No wonder, he was in deep depression after his close friend had gained a job and forsaken his friendship. Why not? After all, they had been tied up with close partnership throughout the college days. His heart had ached for the whole week after hearing the heinous news about Lawrence’s swift software journey. He quenched his mind’s babbling with the plentiful booze medicine as he flew up and down to the bar twice daily as if he was going for a divine place. His pain was immeasurable like lovers had been separated after a long years of dating. His sullen and grumpy face had really meant it.

“Why are you spoiling your health like this?” Lawrence asked him. He had joined the office on last week, enjoying his early honeymoon period there with his new colleagues. Not to say, he and Reshmi were working together in a same team. Today was Friday, so finally he had some time to spend with his friends. On weekdays, he woke up early on before his friend’s opened their sneezy eyes and came to the room when they were propped on their straw mats after having finished their belly swollen dinner. There was hardly any communication between him and them, and it had bothered him a lot. Now he wants to dig at them.

“Because you have a job and we are jobless,” Madhan said, dispiritedly. He was in the kitchen, and you could see him from the living room, there was no partition wall in between. He was preparing chicken fry for their booze party because it’s Friday you know, after their weeklong tireless snoozing. He sprinkled the pepper on chilly slices which were roasting in the hot pan; the pungent chicken and masala smell was tempting and mouthwatering.

“Why are you keep mumming, Gautam. You too speak something man,” Lawrence said, showing his pissed off face at him.

Gautam had his thirty days English speaking book on his lap and revisiting the examples in his mind. He was still struggling with the grammar and didn’t know how to talk fluently without stammering in front of the humongous Technical team. He knew that he had at least brief about himself properly before facing any steamy questions from them. He was a slow learner all throughout his life, but this English was one of the biggest hurdles for him to aim high in his life now.

“Nothing to say. I am not a brilliant like you to earn a job,” Gautam said with a dejected soul.

Lawrence face was blown with twilight stars on hearing this meritorious comment.

“You will find a job man. Don’t worry,” Lawrence said, as prodded him on his spine.

“When….? Do you see a white hair in my head? Do you know what it mean?” Kamesh said, picking up a bunch of hair with his right hand and showed it to Lawrence, “fuck, we are getting older man. I don’t know if anyone would give me a job if I am jobless for next three months.”

“C’mon guys, let’s move on. Are you guys are nuts or what to speak like this?” Lawrence said, he stood up to go out. He had never felt this pressure in his life, but now after he had joined in the office. He felt the torture in the company was far better than here in the room. A moment he thought he should have resign his job to stay away from this ruthless attack from his friends.

Kamesh blew a smoke into Lawrence’s face, who swished it off by stroking his hand in the air.

“See, how you are behaving after getting the job. Gautam did you notice some arrogance in his behavior,” Kamesh said.

Gautam shook his head, but on nodding at Lawrence he had lowered his head. He didn’t know what to talk. The threat was coming from both ends now.

“It is impossible with you guys. Why are you talking like this man? I’m always what I am. But I think you have changed a lot. I don’t understand why you have been puffing of these many cigarettes,” Lawrence said.

“Madhan did you hear what he says,” Kamesh said in a loud voice as his words travelled to the kitchen, “he started questioning me now. This bloody fool giving me lectures on my health,” he then glared at Lawrence, “you are the reason why I am indebted to take these shitty things, you know.”

“But why? You are definitely going to get a job man. Keep pushing…keep pushing…” Lawrence said.

Gautam gave a quick nod at him. He thought he was giving a nice mantra to stay himself focused.

“What?” Kamesh quaked. His huge eyes jumped out of sockets and went in quickly. He was in no mood to heed when someone was throwing some life philosophies in his bucket. He just wanted to keep pushing himself out from the real tragedy of life.

“I said you should keep pushing to get a nice job. That mean, you shouldn’t lose courage when failures are threatening you,” Lawrence said clearly. He was impressed the way he was talking with his friends. At least he had received a chance or reached a state to throw such lifesaving theories at them. But he wasn’t a child to not know that Kamesh was a tough person not to take these lifesaving pills.

“You know I am pushing myself for more than two years now,” Kamesh said as he trickled down the specks of ash into the ash tray, which was nothing but a steel bowl and nodded his head, “It’s all started when I was in third year. The dozens of off campus and onsite interviews went into the gutter. Every company is so generous to reject me with a gloomy heart. Such a sucking guys. What are they expecting from me man? I was the top scorer in school in tenth standard and twelfth standards, but still I’m jobless. It’s really sucking me low, you know.”

Madhan turned off the stove and brought the hot chicken chillies into the living room. The aroma of the chicken masala and roast was wafting inside the room, tempting everyone to take a bite on it.

“If you keep talking about the old stories it will never going to bring you to the shore. You have to fight against the challenges man. That’s how you can win in this world. If you keep talking these old crappy things what are you going to get in your life,” Lawrence questioned him, as he tossed one chicken chilly into his mouth, “nothing but worry will remains with you and it will really start sucking your life.”

“Man, do you think I can get placed in one of the top MNCs,” Gautam asked innocently. He closed his book, and slowly crawled next to Lawrence. It was quite known to everyone that he was struggling like hell here. At least he was kept trying. That was an impressive thing when comparing to Kamesh, who always preferred to slosh and give a whamming comment against Lawrence. Of course Madhan was a pre-meditative character and didn’t know where to insert himself.

“Of course man. But you should talk well in English. You are lacking that flavor to influence them man,” Lawrence said.

“But I am daily studying these books,” Gautam pointed his finger at five piled up books about speaking English fluently.

“What is the use?” Lawrence crinkled his left eye brow, “you should try talk in English man. Then only you can able to learn it. If you keep mugging up things, what are you going to learn, nothing but stuttering English.”

“But how?” Gautam said. The interaction between them saw as the spiritual guru and his prominent disciple.

“Man, you don’t believe in his theories. He would make you like me finally,” Kamesh warned. Madhan had placed four plastic bowls on the floor, and bagpiper rum was next to him. He was in no mood to listen these prominent life theories from him, because he had always heard this gossip in surplus.

“You….,” Lawrence threw a mocking look at Kamesh and embraced Gautam, “It’s pretty simple man. You have to talk to someone in English. That’s all it needs. Bang, you will start speaking good English after one month of daily practice,” he said.

“Really, do you believe a poor guy like me to talk in English?” Gautam said. His eyes grew in the size of eggs when he got excited himself.

“He is lying man. See, I am learning it from pre kg. But still jobless and speaking in butler English. It takes decades to learn you know,” Kamesh said. He was threatening him by lifting up his bushy eyebrows.

“I too man. Is there any medicine to improve the way of communication? I’m willing to buy it,” Madhan said generously, as poured the rum into each glass, he was meticulous about the measurement. A shameless smile peeped out of his small mouth when he acknowledged his ability.

“You both keep shut your mouths. No one ever dares to change your lousy personalities, you know,” Lawrence said, somewhat irritated by their itching arguments.

“See, Martin Luther King is taking the podium to bring changes in the community,” Kamesh said, as started sipping the rum from one plastic glass. There was a vindictive smile lurking on his bulbous eyes.

Lawrence banged his head with his hand as he looked at Gautam.

“You always stay from them. They are dirty fellows man. You start listening to me,” Lawrence said with a caressing voice.

Gautam was in utter confusion and didn’t know what to do. The conditions were getting into worst form after Lawrence had joined a new company. Before he had a job, there would be some coherence and good understanding between them, but now it was no more there. He stayed afloat and couldn’t take a firm decision.

*

Reshmi had called to Gautam for the first time after they had met in the interview. The cellphone had rung, when he was preparing rice in the steam cooker. His friends had gone to nearest shopping mall in Indira Nagar to purchase some nice dresses for the coming dasara festival. Now, it was his responsibility to prepare the dinner. Kamesh had particularly requested him to prepare mushroom curry, which was still pending from Gautam’s side for a week. But he never did this curry in his life time, but for the first time. Kamesh also had instructed him clearly, on how much masala powder he should put, and how it should taste and all. That’s what mainly irks Gautam, because he didn’t have any of the experience to prepare it. He stood behind the gas stove with a shakthi masala packet in his hand, and poured the whole packet into the boiling water, which had mushroom sliced pieces. The smell was pungent and too heavy for the gravy. Gautam thought he had done a good job as he beamed with proud innocence. Once he heard the rattling ringtone from his mobile, he had whisked the empty masala packet into the dust bin, and hurried back to pick up the phone.

He was full of wonder and surprise when he had seen Reshmi’s name on the small screen and jumped up with exhilaration. No wonder, he was expecting at least a message from her from the day when he had last seen her in the interview, but no luck. Earlier, he had typed twenty five different messages to send her, but he was quite shy to send any of them, because he thought he was taking advantage of her good friendship with him and didn’t want to ruin it with his poor actions. He had really missed her from the day when he had met her for the first time in the forum mall while she had danced splendidly with him. In fact, he had quarreled himself many nights whether to initiate a chat with her or not. But he had never dared to do that. Anyway it was his luck to receive her call today, as he had tapped the green caller button and hunched the phone on his left ear.

“Hello, are you there?” Reshmi asked. Her voice was humming like a young lady singer.

“Yessss, I’m doing goooood. It’s really surrrrrprising to hearrrrr from youuuu,” Gautam said, each word had its own delicacy and long interval when he had pronounced it with sheer excitement.

“Great. How about your jostling friends? Are they with you right now,” Reshmi said. She knew it was not an easy thing to talk when his friends were surrounded by, and it could stop him from expressing himself freely.

“No, everyone have gone to the shop,” Gautam said, feeling comfortable now.

“So, what are you doing in the room alone?” Reshmi said, as a melodious smile formed in her wonderful eyes. She was sitting in the bed as her head leaned on the headrest. She was looking beautiful in her pink top and black knee length skirt. There were no stains of makeup in her face, but still she was capable of stealing many hearts.

“Guess what?” Gautam said. He was stupefied when he had spoken with such frankness to her.

“Are you preparing for any interview?” she said. Perhaps, she thought she did a good justification. But it was far from the truth.

Gautam paused for a second, thinking, if he could say or not. Finally he decided to say because he wanted to continue talking to her, “No, I am preparing dinner.”

“Wow, you are a chief cook in the room, eh?” she asked as giggled through the phone.

He thought about the last night’s dinner, actually he had prepared palak panneer and dosa. The palak panneer had tasted like mutton gravy because he had poured the mutton masala in it, as he mistook it for coriander powder. The dosa tasted like poison, since it was bought back a week before and it was fermented for a long time to give a stale smell (reminder: there was no fridge in their room). Kamesh was yelling at him like a sonofbitch throughout the night, and he hadn’t taken a bite of it. In fact, he had vomited twice just for inhaling the smell emanated from this special dosa.

“No, I’m not even a cook. I am still learning,” he said, as if it was an education program to clear the exam.

“C’mon, you guys are living together for four months now. I thought you could have become a great cook, you know,” she said, as grabbed a smooth pillow from the bed and propped it on her lap, and gently started patting it.

“I am staying here for past one month, that’s all. Is that fair enough to learn everything? I don’t think so, in fact I made my friend Vomit yesterday,” he said proudly.

She was flabbergasted when he told that, “Who was that lucky girl?” she asked curiously.

Gautam blinked for a moment, “No, it’s my friend Kamesh. I meant to say I had ruined my dinner so he vomited.”

She slightly slapped her head with her hand and smiled, “I am sorry Gautam. I thought in a wrong way. Don’t take it serious.”

“It’s okay. I just felt its crazy, that’s all,” he said with magnanimous heart.

“So, shall I come to your room one day? I feel kind of boring in the hostel. My tongue is dead after eating food here,” she asked. Her hostel was located in Jaya Nagar a five kilometer distance from Koramangala. She stayed as a paying guest along with two of her friends, who were working in different software companies. But still they stayed in separate rooms and Reshmi didn’t show much interest in gossiping with them. She had always preferred to dance in her leisure time and practicing new steps by watching some of the inspirational choreographers.

Upon hearing her request, for a second Gautam was panicked and his heart rate doubled. He didn’t expect such an abrupt enthusiasm in favor of him. That had stifled his nerves and eye movements.

“Of course, but I will ask my roommates and tell you,” he said.

“Hey, don’t take it serious. I just kidding,” she said and giggled.

Gautam’s breath returned to normal rhythm again. He coughed into the phone and said, “So, how about your new office, are you enjoying, eh?” Gautam asked.

“Headache. I have three types of zandu balms in my hostel. Still the headache is clinging to my head and I couldn’t sleep well,” she said sarcastically.

Gautam didn’t understand what she was talking about or rather couldn’t believe the way she was fuming, “Huh, what happened? I thought you are enjoying in the MNC company as a software engineer.”

“Hah, I’m not a software engineer yet. I am just a trainee, that’s it. C++ and Java training is going on. There are weekly tests, I have to score good marks, otherwise they would throw me away. I am feeling like I have joined in the primary school again, you know,” she said in a screechy tone. You could hear some disgust in her abrupt voice.

“Is it? C’mon you must be joking,” Gautam said, he knew she was liable to lie sometimes. But her stern voice didn’t convey that she was intended to lie with him.

“No, I am damn serious, Gautam. Come to my hostel, I will show you the zandu balms which I stacked up in my bed,” she said, a series of giggles erupted.

“Oh, but I thought you are enjoying the new job in a grand company like that,” he said, still unbelieving her statement.

“Never think like that. I am not a techy nerd to type five thousand lines of C code in a day. I had joined in this company just to earn some money, but my real passion is to become a dancer, you know,” she said.

That made him to feel good, as he thought about when they both were danced together in the grand forum mall on his first meet with her. The memory was strongly imbibed in his mind and he couldn’t erase this imprint even if his brain was crashed down. The impression was enchanting and gave him a stupendous joy.

“Is it? Then you would have tried to become a dancer, no,” he said. He wanted to see her as a great dancer, that’s one of his passions as of now. Yeah, being a well-wisher for others is truly a great thing to live on. In fact, he thought she was wasting her time and energy working in the small square cubicle.

“Yeah, that’s what my interest. You know what my father is working as a central railway employee. But he is adamant not to pursue my aim to become a choreographer. Somehow he hates the cinema world,” she said ironically, her voice was rough and dry.

A thin steel plate he had covered over the pan was pushed up by the powerful steam, as the mushroom curry was boiling under thick flame. He immediately rushed to the kitchen and turned off the gas lid and returned to the conversation, “Sorry, I went to turn off the gas stove,” he said, gasping very fast. He patted the sweat on his forehead with his thumb finger and dried it with his sleeve of the T-shirt.

“It’s okay, what you have done for the dinner,” she asked as walked across in her room and stood behind the window. She drew back the window curtain as the darkness loomed outside could be seen from her room. Still the half-moon was crawling beneath the sky as sprinkled some luminous fragrance on the earth.

“Mushroom curry.”

“Good, the aroma is hitting my nose here,” she giggled, as tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear.

“You are funny. Tell me what do you mean by choreographer? I don’t understand,” he asked. He wanted to know as much of her, because he couldn’t just hold on his excitement.

“Hmm, it’s like this. If anyone composes music, we call them composer. If anyone composes dance, we call them choreographer,” she said and tossed a slight smile from her lower lip.

“I caught it, now you tell me why your father hates your passion?” he asked.

“Because he is thinking the cinema world is not apt for the girls. He told me that there is no protection for the girls, whoever enters into the cine industry. He said the IT industry is the only safest zone for the girls after the government jobs and I should stick with this option alone,” Reshmi said with a faint of disappointment. She didn’t love talking this lousy stuff.

“Can I say something?” he asked her as if he was requesting to his school miss.

“Of course you can. Tell me now,” she said.

“You look soo beautiful. I think you should try becoming an actress, can you?” he said, his voice was mellow and melancholy. He pressed his lips harder as if he had said something horrible now. He thought he was hurrying in jet speed while talking with her. He closed his eyes and prayed she couldn’t cut the call immediately.

But, Reshmi flushed gigantically, she didn’t expect such a lofty comment from him. However, she never thought of becoming an actress, even in her wildest dreams. She knew how to dance well, that’s it. So she simply wanted to showcase her talent in big events on the stages, and she always loved to make people ecstatic by her flexing leg movements.

“You must be joking,” she guffawed into the phone.

“No, it’s serious. Did you ever see your face in the mirror? I mean you look damn cool, you know. You have all the pretty qualities to become an actress,” he said, he was piqued by her sportiveness in chewing his taunting words.

“No, Gautam. You stop there. I think we are going beyond our horizon. I don’t trust in it. Let’s see what life has to do with me in the future,” she said, somewhat in stern voice. She loved to dance more than anything in this world and it was impossible for her to think about herself as an actress or something. Also she had never thought that she had a gorgeous face and strikingly sinuous figure to attract the millions of people in our country, though she had it. She was simple and adorable, and never wanted to overawe herself in any of the matters.

The door was rapped (in fact Kamesh had banged with his stout hands) twice, probably, his friends had comeback now.

“I think my friends have come now,” he said. He was disappointed to break this conversation, and he almost cussed at his friends.

“Okay, we will talk later, bye,” she said and disconnected the call.

*

Chapter 6: Whacking cricket

“C’MON BOYS WE GO FOR PLAYING cricket, it’s been months since I have played. I need to harness it, otherwise I will forget how to play my square cut,” Kamesh announced exhilaratingly to his friends, who were just finished their heavy lunch. Today was Sunday, so they had brought crabs and shrimps for special lunch, Madhan was the chief strategist on cooking, and he did a great job on this mouthwatering task. It was a hefty meal they had after one week of long interval.

“No man, I am feeling stomach full. I can’t play,” Lawrence said as he propped his body on the straw mat.

Gautam nodded at them. He knew that something was going to blow up right now. So, he wanted to close his mouth shuttered down.

“See, you have changed totally after joining in the office. I think you don’t want to play with jobless fellows like us,” Kamesh said, as he belched from his large mouth. The masala and crabs fried smell was puffed up and wafted in the air.

“Man, why are you tying knots between everything. Is that a big deal that I don’t want to play? See outside man, the sun is still hot and scorching on the earth. If we will go play now, I think my face will burn to ashes,” Lawrence said, as switched on the TV. The song Omana Penne from Vinnai thaandi varuvaayaa had played. He had immediately sloshed when he had seen the romance seen between Simbu and hot Trisha in a railway coach.

“Man, you are in Bangalore and not in Africa,” Kamesh said, as each cell in his body was bursting with vehemence as he stared at him. The nerves in his face was stifled and tightened.

“Still, heat is heat. I don’t come, man. Please understand, I need some relaxation,” Lawrence said as increased the volume of the song.

“Kamesh, leave him out, some people have horns on their heads when they started to earn. Why are you bothering about them?” Madhan muttered as the tendon on his back of the neck stood up and nodded their fight.

“See, this is what I don’t like from you guys. Always you all are targeting me to attack with your filthy words. Just stop doing that from now onwards,” Lawrence plunged into throes of anger.

“Gautam you tell me. Are we always trying to target him?” Kamesh asked, as glared at Gautam, who rotated his eye balls in overwhelming fear. He had a bitterest experience while intruding between them and become a scapegoat finally. But Kamesh’s domineering eyebrow flick meant, he had to say something to quell his sabotaging anger, otherwise he would start whamming at him.

‘No,” Gautam uttered in sheer worry and fright. His food pipe was almost choked when he looked at him.

“See, he is a neutral point between us and he told we weren’t harmed you at any point of time,” Kamesh said, letting out a huge sigh.

“Don’t lie Gautam. These fellows always try to seduce you, but don’t give up,” Lawrence said.

“Huh, okay,” Gautam blinked for a few seconds.

“What okay man? Are you going to join with him, because he had a job and we don’t have? Are you trying to create a partition between us,” Kamesh glared again. His mighty eyebrows were touching together to enunciate his blistering anger.

Gautam’s heart skipped two beats on hearing this accusation. He had hiccups; so he grabbed the water tumbler and drained it down through his throat.

“No, not like that. I am ready to come and play with you,” Gautam said. His voice was quivering like old women’s.

“That’s good. He is our boy man,” Madhan said proudly, as prodded his hand over Gautam’s back of the skull. Kamesh’s face was glimmered with satisfaction and exultation.

“If you don’t come with us, then we have to consider about divorce,” Kamesh said to Lawrence, who was startled after hearing this spooky statement.

“What?” Lawrence threw out an indignant glance over him.

“I mean, you are losing the license extension to stay here in this room if you wanted to plug off from us,” Kamesh warned with his huge forefinger. He pulled back his T-shirt collar to retort this lofty threat.

“You must be joking. You are a fool to talk like that,” Lawrence said, feeling exasperated after hearing these provoking statements from him.

“We are serious man. Please check with Madhan and Gautam also,” Kamesh suddenly averted his glance at Gautam and spoke to him through his stormy eye movements.

“Yeah, yeah,” Madhan said, beaming with a proud face. Gautam had flipped a wry twitching signal from his lower lip as he stood there.

Lawrence banged the TV remote on the floor and stood up. The remote was separated into two parts, the electronic board inside had coughed tiny components in pain. He groaned as said, “Come we will go and play.”

Gautam and his friends gathered in the nearest cricket playground, where numerous players were already swinging their bats in the ground. There were lots of youngsters gleamed with effluence as they ran behind the balls. Everyone thought themselves as Sachin, Dhoni, and Kholi while slamming the ball with a mighty force. At least twenty teams were playing in that ground, and the balls were flying about everywhere and couldn’t identify who had hit a ball and where it was landed. You have to guess or pluck the ball from other teams to claim it as yours. That was the big deal among those vast upcoming players of India. Even you could see a two year boy swinging a MRF bat in the border of the ground along with his parents. You can claim as luckiest person there if you return to your home without any facial injury. The positive energy and jubilation of the crowd was outstanding and often the audience around the ground had cheered the batsmen who slogged their bats to get away the balls out of the ground with a big bang. The tremendous shouting and hooting was the only food for the batsmen and bowlers, as they sweated out in the ground.

“Let’s occupy this place guys,” Kamesh said to his friends, as they stood in the middle of the stadium where there was no chance of even planting the three sticks upright on the ground, because there were already three teams fighting out each other in such a small space.

His friends had started planting three thick sticks, Gautam was hitting with a bat on the top of the stick to bury its low and sharp edge on the ground. It was shaking precariously all the while and fell thrice, Kamesh was infuriated at his lack of strength and he snatched the bat from him and gave a strong bang on the stick which suddenly went half-way down into the ground.

“You have to hit like this man,” Kamesh said to him. He threw up his shirt’s collar to show his macho power. Suddenly someone had knocked his back of the head with a strong hand. He turned back.

“You can’t play here. See there is no space at all to play one more team here. You better go searching for a free space down there,” a boy said, as showed his finger on the east side.

“No, we can’t. Everywhere people are there, what to do. We will adjust and play here only,” Kamesh said sternly. His upper hair was rustled in clusters as sudden wind rushed past them.

“You can adjust. But we can’t adjust,” the boy said, now his team members had swarmed around him and inspecting what’s going on between them, curiously.

“That’s why I already told you guys not to come out,” Lawrence said in a clumsy voice. The scorching sun was knocking on his head and he felt tired already and wanted to go back to the room and sleep like an old fellow.

“Kamesh, come we will go finding some other place,” Madhan said, pulling his hand. But Kamesh had shaken his hand and released it in a furry. Boy, you know Kamesh, right? He was a man of bravery and not a coward. His cheek bones jangled inside as cocked his eye at him.

“No, you stay here. Why should we go? It’s our birth right to stay put wherever we would like to hang on, damn nobody has power to shake my legs,” Kamesh said ferociously, as his jaw flicked in and out.

“Ware wah, what a say,” the boy clapped, as threw an ugly smile at him. He turned at his team and said, “Let him play boys. C’mon we go and continue our match,” he said and winked at them. The wink meant a lot of surprise (sometimes dangerous too) elements waiting for Kamesh in the near future.

Kamesh had beamed with full of ecstasy and cheerful radiant face as he called his friends to begin the play. He thought he had beaten them to death, with his powerful words. You could see the simpering look of him from his way of walking and tossing the ball to his friends.

“Brother…brother…please let us join in your team,” four small boys had pleaded in front of him. They were looked like some fifth or sixth standard boys. They had soft and innocent faces, but rigid in their appeal.

“Let them join, no,” Gautam said, “these boys are seems to be very much willing to play.”

“Hah, I think so. Yeah let them play in our team. What do you say Kamesh?” Madhan said, as embraced the boys with his both hands, as if he wanted to kiss them. One guy was wriggling with his hands to get out of his strong hold.

Kamesh puckered his nose as his mustache twitched in the sudden gust of strong wind.

“But I am wondering would they wound themselves if I bowl at them,” Kamesh said, as put his index finger in between his teeth and submerged into deep thinking like a NASA scientist.

“No, brother, we would be very careful. Believe us,” the small boys had preened with their squealing voices. A thick butter would have melted like water in their frantic squeal.

“Okay, let’s join,” Kamesh beckoned at them. He wobbled down the pitch and inspected the ground with his keen and sharp eyes as if he was a pitch reporter.

“Brother, put a toss,” one boy said. Lawrence gave an ironic look and smiled.

“No, toss and all. Let’s play one by one. If you do fielding well, then you will get a batting,” Kamesh said.

“No, bro, we will play a match between your team and us,” the boy said like a pro.

Gautam gave a shocking look, as these little fellows were literally charging over them. Kamesh nodded at small boys with a low key affair and smiled sheepishly. He thought they were looking very small to grab a bat and hit the ball, let alone bowling.

“Let’s give them a chance man,” Lawrence said, as ruffled one boy’s hair. Kamesh had still worried about the small boys because if they seriously wounded he had to respond to their parents. But their audacity and courage to play against them had moved him emotionally to give them a chance.

“Okay,” Kamesh said, and tossed a rupee coin up over the sky before it touched the ground. The boys had won the toss and decided to bat first, and their conversation was serious and very professional like the international cricket team. The small boy, who was lean and tall, had grabbed the bat and stood in the crease and measured the line between the wickets very distinctly. Madhan threw an awkward look and rushed to field himself down the mid-wicket area.

Kamesh gave a ball to Gautam to bowl at first. Before Gautam had prepared to bowl, the small boy had stopped him in the middle.

“What happened?” Kamesh shouted from the square leg area.

“No, the sun is harsh, I couldn’t see the ball. It’s glaring directly into my eyes,” the boy had complained, like an international player who would quarrel with the umpire for poor lighting.

“So? You need some black board, eh?” Madhan asked. He was amused by the young boy’s shrieking about the sun’s light.

The boy pressed his mouth and suppressed his gushing anger immediately. He knew they were teasing at him, so he mused in silence.

“You close your eyes and play my boy, you silly fellow,” Kamesh said and slightly slapped on his cheek and twisted it with his big fingers. The boy was infuriated and glared at him strongly.

The boy went back to his position, and gave an elegant style and tempestuousness while holding his bat, and looked at the gaps keenly to hit the ball. The first ball, Gautam had threw was a massive four down the square leg, the ball had brushed off Kamesh’s hand and he timidly took off his hand to save himself from hurt. His jaw was immediately dropped down and his eyes were still didn’t come out of witnessing this unbelievable shot. He had never seen such a perfect shot played in his life, it’s like Tendulkar was holding a bat and blasting against the bowlers.

“Hold a length straight man, don’t give much width for the batsman,” Kamesh yelled from where he stood. Still the shock wave of the boy’s hit wasn’t faded from his face.

The second ball was a gentle flick straight down the ground and it went to four as well,” Gautam had shook his head and gave an unreasoning look on that boy, who was interacting with his fellow runner in the opposite, as showed his fingers at the gap and smiling hard. That was a curious interaction if you wanted to know, they were planning how to attack each ball and where the gap available as well.

The next four balls went with singles and Gautam was quite happy about it. Now, Kamesh had taken a charge as a captain to bowl at the small boys. He thought Gautam had given so many loose balls to let the boys score huge runs in the first over itself. So, it’s his turn to defend them.

Kamesh had hurried from the back (far long behind the umpire) to bowl but he was stopped immediately by the umpire when he was about to hurtle the ball on the batsman. The umpire was belongs to the same small boys team.

“What happened?” Kamesh gripped his ball and grit his teeth as looked at him.

“Let the batsman get ready,” the small and lean boy, who was the umpire, told him.

Kamesh went back again and ran down furiously and hurtled the ball at the young boy, who had gave a bang and the ball went to the six in the mid-wicket region. All cheers came from the fellow small boys. They had clapped incessantly to cheer his friend. Kamesh’s heart flew along with the ball as well. Gautam’s lips itched to smile but he controlled himself. He stood on long on.

“C’mon Kami, give your best,” Madhan was cheering from the mid-wicket.

Kamesh had gnashed his teeth as spit on the ball and rubbed it on his trousers. He then veered back to the bowling stand and came charging down with a huge force as the ball went like a bullet. But it was nothing to do with that boy, who whacked the ball with the upper cut and it flew like a rocket and it was six as well. On seeing this, Kamesh’s chest swelled with pain and tear glands were knocking to gush forth the water.

This calamity had continued for the remaining four balls as well, as it had flew everywhere around the wicket. Lawrence did nothing, but held up his chin watching the balls fly over him. The boy made half century in just three overs and raised his Boost bat at his fellow boys, who were clapped like thunder storm had erupted in the sky. In the end, after eight overs, they had scored Himalayan 155 runs.

“Kamesh, the score is huge, do you think we would be able to reach this target,” Gautam said, as he looked worried and without confidence.

Kamesh returned a seething look with a marvelous frown, “These are little boys, man. They have weak muscles you know. I am planning to reach this score in six overs. Bang…Bang…you reach the score, that’s all we have to do.”

“But you have seen them play right. The way they played I don’t think they are small boys at all. We have to be careful while playing man,” Lawrence said. There was not an ounce of confidence in him to reach this heavy target.

Kamesh threw a silly look and shook his head, “Let me show you how to handle this game. I will open up the batting first. Who is interested to get into the runner side?”

“I will bat,” Madhan said, as raised his fore finger.

Kamesh had grabbed the bat in his hand and rotated it thrice and held it in between his fat hands and moved it across his chest as lifted up his round shoulders while he walked to the grease. He looked at the bowler, who was already a kilo meter distance behind the umpire. Kamesh’s nose was crinkled on seeing him, though he thought this was funny. He signaled his hand at the umpire, who in turn screamed at the bowler to hurtle the ball now. The running shoes of the boy were squelching on the tiny gravels, as he joggled down the pitch and threw the ball with a ferocious grip. The release of the ball was sudden and faster than the lightning speed, as it rushed to hit his potty stomach with a bang. That’s it. Kamesh was flounced down on the ground suddenly and rubbed it with his agitated hands. His eyeballs quivered in fright and his breathing was abruptly faltered. Madhan wondered if he would be able to hold a bat again, now he had feared immensely to go and face the next ball. The small boys were encouraging the bowler by clapping and hooting and all.

“Do you need water?” Gautam asked him from the back.

Kamesh shook his head and bit his lips with a frantic sight. He was back again to face the ball. His hands were quivering to hold the bat firmly as he faced the fiery bowler once again. He swallowed an apple size thick lump down his throat.

The second ball had come screaming down to his crotch and knocked it with a mighty power. Something had shattered inside. Kamesh was no more there. He plopped face down on the ground. His face smudged with sand, and his tongue had come out, his cheeks were shrunken and his flail arms were bloodless and quiet.

The first person had arrived to check him was the bowler, this boy had rushed to the spot and said, “Bro, are you all right?”

But there was no response, the boy was frightened.

“Hey fatso, get up man,” Madhan was shaking his shoulders, but there was no answer. He then shook his legs with the bat, but still it was no use. A deadly shock rushed into his face immediately. He threw a hand at his friends and asked them to hurry up. Everyone had rushed to check if he was alive or not. Gautam was holding a water bottle in his hand and poured it on his palm and splashed on his face. Yes, there was a little shake on his limbs, as everyone gasped with relief. Lawrence had rolled his body to other side, as Kamesh’s face had popped up and glared at the sun. The rays had pierced his eyes as he drew back his hand across it.

“Are you feeling okay now,” Gautam asked.

Kamesh blinked and looked at everyone surrounded him. The whole ground was looking at him now. The boy who had drawn him for fight initially was smiling at him now.

“Bro, are you ready to play,” the bowler asked.

Kamesh had shaken his head furiously as held his hand on his crotch. He wanted to get back to the room immediately, because he had to check what had happened to it. There was a slow thumping pain was growing rapidly. He didn’t know if he would be alright if he would take rest for the next three days. There was no chance of taking another ball from that ferocious small boy. It seemed every ball this boy had hurtled was murderous with huge force which Kamesh couldn’t able to take on even if he had played cricket for a decade. Kamesh had signaled for the match cancellation and returned back to the room with his wounded body and pierced pride.

*

Chapter 7: Babbling Kokila

THE NEXT WEEK, MADHAN’S FATHER had visited the room because he didn’t see any progress with his son on finding a job. He was dissatisfied with his son’s performance. It was a sudden visit so that he would know what he was up to. That was his father’s plan.

They were playing rummy cards together. There was suddenly hell of silence ensued when they heard the knock on the door.

“Who is banging now?” Madhan threw a morose face.

“Let’s go and open the door,” Kamesh said, he was still not bounced up from the devilish impact he had undergone in the cricket ground. The itching sensation had never gone away and he was helpless on that issue. From then, he had dropped his resolution to play cricket on Sundays, so they had spent this time playing cards now.

Gautam had kept the cards on the floor and nodded his head at the door. He was keen to know who was hammering the door right now. Lawrence had already thrown the cards aside and rested his back on the wall and humming something through his mouth.

Madhan had slightly opened the window curtain and saw his father was standing like a police officer there. A turbulent shiver went down his spine as he swallowed a thick lump down his throat. His eyeballs were motionless and stalled. There were million thoughts running on his mind now, he didn’t know if the liquor bottles were hidden in the wooden shelf in the bed room, which they had never used for that purpose, but used it as a store room for the miscellaneous things. His glance gazed over the living room, and had seen cigar packets were littered everywhere in the room, his heart was beating furiously now, he didn’t know what to do now. He needs at least half-an hour to clean this missy stuff, but right now he was short of time.

“Who is that fellow?” Lawrence had asked casually.

“My father has come guys, let’s clean this clumsy room first,” Madhan had screamed at everyone.

“Why he has come now,” Kamesh sighed, as slapped the slew of cards on the floor. He was lazy enough to move his butt, let alone clean this messy room.

“Get up man. We have to clean this room first,” Madhan said.

There was two more knocks on the door. Madhan had clenched his chest and cringed back with fear.

“Don’t worry, Madhan. We would clean it up quickly,” Gautam said, as offered him a helping hand. He immediately picked up the small stubs of the cigars and put it in the dustbin. Madhan was immensely happy with him for the timely support, but on the other hand Kamesh had rushed into the toilet and didn’t return back until fifteen minutes. God alone knows what he was doing there.

“Lawrence, you help me to put the liquor bottles on the top of the concrete slab man,” Madhan said as he rushed into the bed room and stood on the plastic chair. The idea was to hide the booze bottles from the view. Lawrence had extended him all the beer, rum, and whisky bottles one by one. In a hurry one Bacardi bottle was escaped through Mandhan’s hand and plonked on the floor and shattered into pieces. The remains of liquor had reeked out a whisky smell in the room. They two watched in horror as their face muscles crinkled monstrously.

“Oh, shit, we have to clean this stains also,” Madhan moaned as he held his head with his both hands, panic was knocking on his brain. He had never been into such clamorous state before, but for the first time. He gasped frantically for a moment and didn’t have any wise thought coming to his mind now. He thought of taking that piece of jagged bottle and slashing his throat, for a second. But that was useless, he knew, and frowned impressively.

“Let me get some Dettol,” Lawrence said on seeing his frightening face. He rushed back to the toilet, but the door was locked firmly. He knocked at the door with a ferocious knuckles but Kamesh was stubborn to open it.

“Hey, wait there, I am inside,” Kamesh coolly cooed from inside.

“You are a heck of man. Let’s open the door. I have to take that Dettol bottle,” Lawrence cried. But there was no response from him, but the bottle came out, yes, Kamesh was holding it out for him (over the top of the door).

“Here,” Kamesh said, as Lawrence looked up the door and snatched the bottle and rushed back to the bed room. The littered speckles of the bottle were already scooped into the dustpan neatly by Gautam. Lawrence splashed half a bottle of the Dettol on the floor and mopped it cleanly.

Madhan’s father was still yelling from behind the door. But these guys were busy in fixing the room. Finally, Madhan was convinced to open the door, as he ran to the entrance and clicked the door knob.

His father had gleamed at him with anger, “What are you guys doing until now?” He was looking taller, and had nestled salt and peppery hair, had strong whiskers and in formals. He was a manager in electricity department and always had held a stretched face to show others that he was a government employee. He was looking taller than Madhan, had a long face with squelchy cheeks, and there were dark circles and wrinkles around his sunken eyes. He wore a pair of brown loose pants, and long sleeved white and black checked shirt.

“Dad, we were doing…..” Madhan struggled to lie.

“We were in the kitchen and didn’t hear you,” Lawrence snapped back suddenly. Madhan had inhaled with calm assurance at this moment.

“In kitchen?” Madhan’s father face was squirmed out of shape.

“Yeah, we were preparing lunch,” Gautam joined too. Actually on Sundays’ they usually prepare lunch at three o’clock and eat at five o’clock, if at all they had found their stomachs was cramping and yelling at them, otherwise they won’t bother and go ahead for dinner straightaway.

“Strange,” his father said and gazed the room for a while. The room was now smelt of Dettol mixed with cigar smoke, yeah, Kamesh was smoking up there in the toilet as his friends were toiling here.

Madhan had noticed that his father had smelt something bad in the room. So, he decided to distract him.

“Come, sit here Dad,” he said, as pulled one plastic chair for him.

His father had puckered his lips and sat down on the chair and looked up at them, “So, what’s going on guys. How are you doing in Bangalore?”

“Yeah, it’s going cool uncle. We are feeling good here,” Lawrence said slowly as averted his gaze often at Madhan.

His father knew well about Lawrence and Kamesh, but Gautam was a new guy for him. So, fixed his gazed at him and said, “You look like a new guy in the room, isn’t?”

“Yes, I joined this room last month,” Gautam said in a low voice.

His father had shook his head and said, “Oh, I see,” and suddenly a thought flashed into his mind, “What about Kamesh?”

“He is in toilet Dad,” Madhan said.

“Fine. So, how about your job searching is going on?” his father said in a strident voice.

Madhan’s head was lowered suddenly as his eyes scraped at the floor with guiltiness. His father had clearly said on last month that he was going to cut off the monthly amount he was spending on him. That was a big shock for not only him, but everyone. He was the major financier in the room as of now, but from next month they didn’t have any idea. Particularly, it was a major blow for Kamesh, who was always begging at him to buy something to eat. Though, Lawrence had started earning now, he wasn’t that liberal heart to spend extravagantly for his teammates. That’s what firstly irks with Kamesh about him.

“It’s going good Dad,” Madhan said as flashed a trivial smile.

“Always going good… Always going good…can you some tell me what does meant. This fellow is telling me this all the time,” his father was rousing in ferocity. His anger was streaming out abundantly now. Gautam and Lawernce were shuddered back now.

Kamesh had vacated his trip out of the toilet and walked down slowly to join them. His face was immediately set with innocence and lolling fear. He looked at his friends, who were already stood in perturbed positions. He glanced at Madhan’s father and sent a warm smile.

“Hi Kamesh, come join these fellows. How are you doing anyway?” he said.

“Doing good uncle,” Kamesh said.

“C’mon at least you tell me. What’s happening here?” Madhan’s father demanded. He had a faith on him, though he wasn’t his son. There was something he liked much about this guy, maybe, he was looking fatter like an intellect fellow who was working in Intel corporation. So, he liked him and wanted to hear his son’s credibility through him.

“Uncle, we had attended twelve companies in the last two months. But the crowd was huge every time we go there to attend the interview and it’s become tough to even take the written tests. Madhan couldn’t clear even a single written test, though I have cleared three written tests,” Kamesh lied spectacularly. Madhan was harrowing with pernicious anger and wanted to knock him down right now. But his father was there and he couldn’t do anything at this moment. Kamesh had never cleared even a single written test, he lied just to retain the good reputation with his father.

“This is unforgiveable Madhan. What are you doing here for past four months then? You should have at least learnt some life lessons from him,” his father said, as pointed his index finger at Kamesh, who was jostling with full of smiles inside. On the other hand, Madhan was fuming with utter anger to attack him.

“Sorry Dad, the question patterns were really tough with the MNCs, so I couldn’t able to clear,” Madhan said.

“Huh, I don’t know why you become so worst after you have joined in the college. You had twelve backlogs overall in the career and now you are useless not even to clear a single interview, waste fellow,” his father said. Madhan felt like he had been stood naked in the girls class room. He felt his father was accusing him badly than he thought he would.

Lawrence had tightly clenched his lips not to smile. Gautam thought those questions had been hurtled over him, as he jerked back in torrential shame and indignation.

“What about you guys?” Madhan’s father said, as he stroked the ends of his mustache with resoluteness and manly power.

“I am still searching job, Uncle,” Gautam said, as toed on the floor. He was reluctant while talking to him, and he always had a reserved mind when it comes to talk with other parents. He felt like coward when he said this.

Madhan’s father threw a nasty grin, “You don’t hang on with my son. Then you would turn as useless too. Our country needs a person who is responsible and resourceful to make this country a developed nation, I don’t think this could be ever achieved if you guys don’t feel the responsibility in your shoulders,” his father said. His patriarchal words were suddenly created a storm in everyone’s hearts. Madhan had never thought he would speak in such a tremor in his voice while speaking about patriotism. That really made him surprise.

“Okay, uncle,” Gautam said and stood silent.

Madhan’s father gaze finally reached to Lawrence, who hung on there with a stiff head.

“What are you doing?” he asked. He thought he was useless fellow as well, because they were staying with his son. For him, everyone was unintelligent and debased fellows who aloof with his son. This thought was deeply imprinted on his mind and it couldn’t be detached from him.

“One minute uncle, I will bring a hot coffee for you,” Kamesh said and scurried into the kitchen with long strides. Madhan’s father was astonished with his timely concern on his health and cordial understanding about him. But he didn’t know that it was Kamesh’s trick to escape from this tedious conversation.

“I have got a job last month and I am working with Sine&Cos Soft Inc now,” Lawrence said, with pompous heart. His body language was impeccable as he stood there straight and valiant. No doubt, he was the only fellow had rights to behave like that, as far as Madhan’s father concerned.

Madhan’s father face was suddenly flushed with excitement and anxiety as he looked at him. The excitement was that at least a fellow was able to make it finally. The anxiety was that his son was still hanging here without any discipline to even clear a single written test. At least he was proud of the fact that Lawrence was belongs to where his son staying. This could have been enough for him to go back to his home in a cheerful mood, though still his son was a worthless fellow.

“Congrats, boy. You are the champion in this room,” Madhan’s father said, as his hand went into his shirt packet and picked up two thousand rupee note and handed it to him. Lawrence was first bounced back by this generous gift, since he was no more in the financial disaster to take it. Madhan curiously thought that his father was going to give him that money. But his face was cringed with utter shamefulness when his father had thrust the rupee note into Lawrence hands. Did you see the incongruous act Madhan’s father was doing here? Who was in the poor state to receive some financial aid? Lawrence or Madhan. You judge it yourself.

“No, uncle, it’s okay. I am started earning, I think you can give it to Madhan,” Lawrence said generously. Madhan’s face crackled with happiness when he heard it.

Madhan’s father had threw a sheepish grin at his son and said to Lawrence, “I tell you keep this for yourself. Consider it as my gift for your selection,” and averted his gaze at his son again and muttered, “he hasn’t deserved to take from me anything.”

Kamesh had come back with a hot coffee in a steel plate and gave it to Madhan’s father, who was already had a high state of commiseration for him. Now, it had become boundless and grown far wider, “Thank you my boy,” he said and prodded over his big arm, as he got a five hundred rupee note from his shirt packet and thrust into his hand. Kamesh said, “No, no…uncle, please have it,” but his fingers had gripped the note tightly and safely pocketed. This fat fellow never had bent his body to go inside the kitchen, but this time. Only for the sake of earning Madhan’s father witless love and some gift.

“Okay, are you guys had a lunch?” asked Madhan’s father, as sipped the coffee.

Four of them had nodded each other.

“No, Dad,” Madhan said affectionately, as if he hadn’t eaten for the whole week.

His father had looked at his wrist watch and said, “My boys, it’s already three o’clock, when are you going to eat then. Don’t spoil your stomachs by starving it. Let’s go and have something.”

“We had breakfast late, that’s why,” Gautam responded with a resolute face.

“Whatever. Have you guys prepared lunch or what?” Madhan’s father yelled.

There was again a long paused silence.

“It is the problem with your bachelors. Never ever have any concern to nourish the bodies. First go and prepare something to eat,” he looked at his son and his heart started melting now, “Do you guys have all the grocery items to prepare anything?”

There was a long pause again. His father was really collapsed from the chair, he felt as if he had done some unforgiveable offence to his son, and his heart had started aching inside his chest as looked into his son’s malleable eyes. He stood up suddenly to get out of the room. His eyes were suddenly moistened. Yes, he was feeling the affection and inordinate love for his son. His hand again went inside the trousers packet and fetched a bundle of rupee notes. It was at least having twenty notes inside and was wrapped with a slim rubber. He thrust it into his son’s shirt packet and followed his way out of the room. He was full of emotional and couldn’t speak anything now. He felt like his throat was tied up. Everyone ambled down the floor to the main door with a heavy heart and pounding pulse, but Kamesh had left a drop of tear from his left eye. Madhan’s father hadn’t say bye and went down the stairs with his misty eyes and insurmountable thumping heart.

*

“This is ridiculous I say. You don’t even know how to do this simple program,” the team lead said to Reshmi, who was agonized by his screaming in front of her friends. Her training program was completed, now she had been assigned for a project. Her team lead had always disliked the girls, because he had a belief that girls never do a good job in the software industry. One of the strong reasons behind this was his wife, who wanted to dominate in all the matters in the family life. He did an arrange marriage. When his parents and he had gone to meet his wife for the first time, she behaved like very innocent, calm, and composed girl. He thought she was going to hang on with his every torture, but it was turned out in reverse when he had frequently tried to dominate her after marriage. One day, when she was ironing his shirts, he had come behind her and inspected the ironed shirts and pulled one out of it and unfolded in front of him, and glared in anger when he had seen some wrinkles at the hem of the shirt. He immediately got infuriated and gave a slap across her face. Her anger was suddenly shot up for such a silly mistake. Guess what she did. Yes, she had brought the iron box (which was simmering with 600 degree Celsius heat) and placed it on the back of his neck, that’s it, there after he never had questioned her in home. But he had hammered every girl in the office with his harsh and teeming comments, to dissolve the pinnacle of his anger aroused by his wife in house. Also, to hide the dark trench of marking on his back of the neck, he started wearing the neck pad. No one in the office knew about this secret.

“Sorry Lohit, I haven’t understood the logic behind this program,” Reshmi said, feeling sad and worried. She was standing behind her seat, and her fellow team members were sitting in the same row and looked at her compassionately and frightfully. The other team members sitting in the same large room were frightened too. It’s like a viral fever held everyone in difficulty. They didn’t know when he was going to blast them. There were four members in their team, three of them were girls and one boy was Lawrence. But he had already earned a good reputation with his team lead, because of his unfathomable nerdy stuff.

“What a big deal in this program. It’s just a simple arithmetic program. Nonsense, don’t you have a brain,” Lohit blasted her in and out. He was looking tall, had a bubbly white face, a small nose, a big mole on his left cheek like double hero character would have in movies, and had no mustache to claim he was a business magnet. He wore a crispy magenta full sleeve shirt and black trousers, and showing his temerity as a team lead.

“Lohit, let me teach her. I think she is stuck on how to pass a pointer through a function,” Lawrence said. He stood up for her support. He was sitting left to Reshmi.

“You don’t back her, Lawrence. This is irritating to work with these brainless girls. Who is gonna to respond the client, if she works with this irresponsible mindset?” Lohit raised his stubby finger in front of him, as gazed at Reshmi willfully. Reshmi was smeared with embarrassment as everyone in the whole room was looking at her. She clutched her handkerchief tightly, as tears were streaming down her cheeks. She wanted to cup her face with her hands and wanted to hide somewhere from this heavy embarrassment. She had never imagined this software company would yield only troubles after troubles for her. She thought she was going to enjoy her journey with her fellow members, although she had undeniable and passionate interest in dancing.

“But handling a function through pointers is not as easy as you think, for juniors like us. Reshmi still needs sometime to handle this,” Lawrence said.

“Hmm,” Lohit gasped as scratched his cheek, and averted his gaze at Reshmi, “For God’s sake, can you stop crying. Is this office or cinema industry to act your sad role? This is really disgusting to see you cry like a child. First you stop this nonsense,” he said and slapped his hand on the side panel of the cubicle, which shuddered as formed ripples on the top.

Kokila who sat next to Reshmi, had gaped her mouth and stunned. She was having a fat body, short in height, wore always high heels to compensate her height deficiency, had a pumpkin face and rotund arms and legs. She was Reshmi’s close friend in the company. She had enormous amount of courage to tease her friends, but when it comes to deal with project related matters, she would behave humble in character (and dignity too) with her team lead and project manager. But she would start hollering and divulge every bit of candid information about the team lead in the canteen and out of the office areas.

On the other hand, Reshmi’s other colleague in this project was Sophi who was sly and spy type. You have to be careful with her. She had close relationship with project manager with regards to the project related matters, because she was his friend’s daughter and she had been entered into this company through the referral program. But she maintained good tempestuousness and celerity with her friends on behalf of her behavior. Now, she was enjoying the show of Reshmi, who was bitterly wounded.

“Sorry Lohit, I don’t cry anymore,” Reshmi said, as bunch of tears strolled past her cheeks.

Lohit was infuriated and turned his gaze at Kokila, “What about you, madam. Have you fixed the bug in the LCD display for the Freescale processor,” he roared.

Kokila was shuddered weakly as sank in her chair. Her huge eyeballs rolled in tremendous fright and swallowed a lump down her throat and looked at him helplessly, “Lohit, I am still…wanted to know the routing of GPIO pins....I am reading the datasheet,” she said, as gave a pause at each short sentence which she had created in her mind conspicuously. But the dreadful ambience was already set in her soul and her rotund white legs were started to shake now.

“Does anyone understand what she told?” he glared at everyone and there was a deep mum existed in the place and he shook his head as said, “see Kokila, if you talk like this with the clients, they will through you in the street. What’s going on with you? Don’t even know how to explain what you have done in the past two days. Shame on me for having employees like you to steer a tough project. Okay, one more chance, let me take a quick look on what you have done, fast,” he said as stared at her, and snapped his stubby fingers twice.

“Lohit, I have done…I have done,” she screwed her eye balls as her fingers were curling inside her big palm, “I read the datasheet and understood the routing of the GPIO pins.”

“Hmm, I could see there was something you have done, okay? Let’s explain what it was,” Lohit gasped. He jumped up and sat on the horizontal wooden slab of Reshmi’s cubicle, and cocked his eyes at her.

Koki showed her index finger at her small 10X10 inch LCD display board which was kept on her cubicle and it was connected with a power plug through thick black cables which ran down over her cubicle. She then snapped her knuckles in fear as gulped down her lump and said, “Here it is flickering Lohit, I don’t know why?”

“Sabaash… bravo,” Lohit said as smiled snobbishly through his splendid white teeth, “see what type of resources I have in my project. One girl does not even know what pointer is, one girl is blubbering with the LCD.”

“Sorry Lohit,” Kokila said, as bit her finger nail in the middle finger, she was looking at him under her bushy eyebrows.

“You just keep your blubbery mouth shut up,” he muttered furiously, as his jaw muscles sprang hither and thither and he went on, “I don’t know what I am going to do with this baseless team. I don’t know why these girls are coming here to make this software industry a show room, dammit, always feeling sick and aghast with this type of girls.” He almost rebelled cynically against the girls.

The whole room had heard him saying this. There were about twenty odd girls were working in the same long room, all were juniors and some are in higher positions, and didn’t dare to ask him some repudiating questions in return to squander him. But they stayed silent with nostalgic heart and vehemence in their eyes. The two managers who were sitting down in the north corner cubicles were helpless and scraping their laptop keypads without summoning their strength to blast him out.

“Lohit please don’t insult all the girls. We did the mistake, let scold us. But don’t blame others for our mistakes,” Reshmi said, after having restored her confidence to question him.

Lohit’s anger went up to his head and banged his right fist on his left palm, and jeered her relentlessly, “You don’t even know how to execute even a single project, but talk like you have done hundred projects, eh?”

Reshmi dropped her head down and didn’t speak again. He turned his gaze at Kokila again, “Tell me now, when are you going to finish this task. I think, this flickering of the LCD display won’t stop if I give you one month duration also.”

Kokila nodded him with her straight face and said, “I will fix the bug within three days,” her big earlobes were turned purplish when she had challenged him, though she had never meant to finish her task. But simply for the sake of challenge she had challenged him. In fact, it had past the due date a week before.

“You don’t have to challenge me, f…,” he stopped in the middle and continued, “you let finish the task by this weekend. I mean, today it’s Friday, you come and work in this weekend to grandly put a period for this task, which is kept dragging like an elastic strap.”

Kokila now ducked down her head and went speechless. But her fingers were trembling to beat him at the nose and let it pour the red blood like water, and her toes were already created grooves on the brown carpet.

These two girls were his main target of accusation. One, he wanted to kill the spirit of Reshmi because she was looking beautiful and blonde. He won’t like the girls generally, but he hates the girls who were looking stunning, from the pit of his stomach. Two, he won’t like the girls who look fatter also, because he always felt they were most dangerous in terms of size and will power to hammer him down.

“Lawrence, you take care of these cretins. Let’s watch them closely and ensure if they are going in a right direction to handle the projects assigned for them,” Lohit said, as he jumped down from the horizontal slab of the cubicle and stood behind Sophi’s cubicle. She was exempted from his harsh and seething remarks against her, because she was the pet of Project manager. So, he was harmless when he scrutinized Sophi’s work. Also, she wasn’t that glam type like Reshmi, that fact had convinced him too much for being liberal with her.

“So, what’s up Sophi,” he said as his face was radiated with full of gleaming and ecstasy. It seems like he had started to sighting her for some pleasure. For recent days, his charm was growing bigger whenever he was near her.

Kokila had rolled her eyes as looked at him and nudged her elbow at Reshmi, who had seated in the chair now. Reshmi was still feeling bad about what he had talked to her, and it’s at least going to harrow her mind for next three days. Worse, she wasn’t going to spend this weekend in the hostel because the pending work she had to complete before the deadline. There were only two days she had in a whole week, but if she had to spend that too in a company, what the hell she had to live with. What the purpose of earning the money, then? To bury it somewhere when she died, she thought herself. But nothing was going to change until she had changed herself. She knew it well.

“I’m logging the defects in the bugzilla software,” Sophi said, exultantly. She scooped strands of her hair and pushed it back.

“Wow, great. This is such an important task and you are doing it for perfection,” Lohit said, as his eyebrows hit the roof of the building. Did you notice, he didn’t even checked what she had done before he started praising her?

Sophi flashed a full teeth grin and jostled, “Thank you. See these are the defects I have logged so far for the past week,” she said with a heavy slang, as if she had fixed all the bugs herself. Kokila and Reshmi were the scapegoats in this project that everyone knew.

“Oh, that would have caused you to exhaustion. Take a good rest this coming weekend, okay,” he said generously, as he inserted his hands in the pants pockets and rummaging through it as if he had gold mine there.

“Thanks a lot. You too have a great weekend,” she said, as her white dupatta slid down and her cleavage of the plump breasts was exposed. Lohit’s shoulder muscles stretched out immediately out of starvation. Yes, it was a long time before he had a veg kiss with his wife, who was showing no mercy at him, after he had hit her. Sophi didn’t know that Lohit had to wash clothes and twice he had to cook in his home in the weekends. His only heaven was the office. He had preferred the office to sleep in the weekdays instead of going to his home.

*

Chapter 8: Injury to soul

“HELLO CHAMP, WHAT ARE YOU doing?” Reshmi had sent a message through What’s app. The ringtone hooted, as the mobile screen went blinking. Gautam was preparing for a Verizon interview in the coming week. He hadn’t yet lost the confidence to clear this, though he had failed fifteen times so far. He wanted to take a break as well, as he felt his eyes were itching to sleep. But he didn’t. The message was sent around 11pm, everyone in the room was sleeping.

He picked up the phone and read it, and his eyes immediately glowed with softness. Why not? He was getting a message from a girl and that too in the middle of the night. Is not that enough to bounce back with cheery mood?

“Hmm, what to do? It’s pretty boring to say, that I am preparing for an interview,” he sent as the phone got blinked immediately.

“Good, I am planning to go Chennai tomorrow, will you come with me?” she said.

Gautam had jerked back, when he had seen this message. Could you believe that a good looking girl is calling an ordinary boy to travel with him four hundred kilometers? The surprise had knocked him down and made him stupefied.

“Sure. Shall I know why?” Gautam had replied back. Hey, that’s not important man. Just go ahead without questioning when the offer is issued.

His excitement to know the reason had travelled beyond his senses. They had hardly talked with each other. But his understanding about her was so close and liberating. He could feel it now.

“Of course, but not now, I will tell you this tomorrow when we travel together,” she said.

“Hoooohhhh, that’s toooo late,” he responded immediately.

“JJJ” she messaged and hung up.

That night he had not slept at all until three o’clock in the morning. Tossed and turned and stretched and curled in the straw mat without sleep. Thought about where two of them would be heading to and how far. He had imagined himself of being funny with her and cracking jokes and laughing together. The wings of his dreams were so wider and strong. There was no limitation to his fantasy of being with her.

Before the sun appeared on the east, Gautam had reached the bus stand and waited for Reshmi to reach there. She had told him to come at 6 o’clock in the morning, but he had waited there from 4.30 am. He hardly slept an hour on last night, but still he was feeling fresh and vigorous with his bubbling spirit, because his heart was pining to look at Reshmi. He couldn’t still believe if it was true that she had called him to travel together. A moment he thought and watched at his black wrist watch to check for the date. Oh, goodness, it won’t be a lie, because today is not an April fool day, he thought and rubbed his hands. The coldness in the air was dampened on his cheeks and arm muscles. The coldness was much stingier in the past two weeks on November month. He stood behind the iron bench and watched every girl who crossed him, curiously, as if she was Reshmi. The seamless crowd was passing him in clusters in every few seconds. He could see some couples were wringing their hands and sat behind the window seats in the buses. His patience to wait for her was bursting with intolerance now, as his toes were lifting up and down as he stretched his neck to check if she was coming down the path. His excitement was overwhelming and trickled down his nerves.

Finally she was appeared at 6.15. She was looking beautiful in her burgundy and black salwar kammez as she walked slowly on the sidewalk to climb the bus platform. She had seen him from the fringe of her dark eyes when she entered into the bus stand. She blushed suddenly. She was sure that it was something new to her. The feeling was uplifting and warm and cozy.

The moment he had seen her at two meter distance, he was snapped back. A sudden jostling spirit had rattled him down. She was looking outstanding and impeccable in adoring herself, the way she looked at him was like hurtling bucket full of roses onto his face. He couldn’t believe that he was going to seat next to her and travel together.

“Oh, I am sorry…sorry, I just can’t get ready quick. You know I wake up at 5.30, the alarm was ringing, but still I kept sleeping,” she said, as her face dancing before him. She just did like a kid who would ask sorry with her miss.

Gautam just wanted to keep seeing her crooning, and it was good to see her in that mood. It’s like watching crackers bursting over the sky with million flashes in the dark night. Her each whispering word was seemed like floating down from the heaven. He loved it. He wanted to let her continue crooning for some time, but she demanded an answer.

“It’s okay Reshmi,” he said.

“My mind is yelling at me daily for working in the project. You know, I had worked yesterday until 9 o’clock, but still the work is not complete,” she said as palpitation tread through her eyebrows.

“Oh, I am sorry, but Lawrence was there in our room the whole day,” Gautam said. He knew that they both were working in the same project. But Lawrence wasn’t much interested in sharing the office matters with his friends, because he felt it would make them feel bad. The strong reason behind this was that one day Kamesh had accused him, saying that he was making him impotent by sharing the office stories.

“Yeah, he is becoming a lead in the project, you know. Our team lead is a heck of person. He had staunched me for not having done my work and asked me to sit down in the office even on Saturday. My head was almost blasting away last day. I felt like jumping to another planet, because he is squeezing us like a juicer,” she said and propped her right hand on her head.

“That’s really tragic to hear. Okay, let’s we go and get the tickets,” he said. He wanted to divert her jabbing attention from her work to the present ruffling moment. He was desperately waiting for their travel in the bus to begin and he had no patience now.

“No worries. I have already done the booking,” she said, as winked at him. Her lipstick color had matched the early morning sunlight. The hair was still wet and flossy, but the shampoo smell was too good and wafting into his nose. A few strands of her hair brushed over his face as he closed his eyes tighter a few seconds. There would be nothing so titillating than this gentle brushing.

She snapped her long fingers in front of his face, as to wake him up from his dreamy state.

“What happened? Don’t snooze now,” she said and looked into his eyes, “Oh Goodness, you look so tired. See, your eyes are reddish, haven’t you sleep last night?” she asked.

He crinkled his left eye and said, “No.”

“What happened? Did you study throughout the night? Or you and your friends went to pub or what?” she asked, as her hands hoisted on her hips.

“No, I just didn’t sleep. We never went to pub,” he said, feeling proud that he had never participated in extravagant refreshing ceremonies conducted in the city.

“Oh, you guys are must be boring then,” she said, “if I am a boy, I would have gone everywhere and enjoyed everything I had deserved, you know.” She was laughing now. She wanted to enjoy the conversation between them, so didn’t care what others thought. The aunties and uncles who were sitting on the iron benches were looked at her and cursed her, for being rude and irresponsible. Reshmi never took care about other’s perception, she always interested in what her heart was saying to her. If we are going to worry about everyone’s comment against us, then we are losing our ability and identity to live in the world. This was the statement she had written in her diary on the first page. Rings like true, isn’t?

“I think we have to learn more from you,” he said.

“Oh, don’t say that. You will end up in suffering,” she said and smiled, as turned her gaze at the big air conditioned bus, which was blaring stridently. Yes, the bus they had been waiting for had arrived in the bus stand finally.

They seated in the middle of the bus, Reshmi sat at the window seat and Gautam was sitting next to her. A few seconds they didn’t speak, because it was the new place and they were very close together. In fact, her brown dupatta was brushing over his shoulder as strong gust of wind blew through the opened glass window.

“So, don’t you ask me where we are heading to?” she asked. She gazed at his face, as tossed one Lays roasted potato chips into her mouth. She stretched the packet to him, and he reservedly fetched three slices of chips as he rummaged his whole hand into it. Don’t you think he deserved this for he hadn’t slept on last night?

“You told me it is surprise. Then how can I?” he said, he threw a perplexed face at her.

The passengers were entering into the bus as their steps were thumping on the bus wooden flooring. They had looked into their tickets and scanned across the bus to locate their seating. The conductor was waiting just outside the small entrance door, and checking their tickets to send them inside the bus.

“Hah, you have a good faith on me. That’s nice. What if I hijack you on the way to Chennai? I mean, you simply come just like that, eh?” she said, puckered her smooth glossy lips.

A sick and nausea feeling hovered in his stomach, as he looked at her with his cowering eyes. On seeing his face, she smiled and beckoned her hand in front of him as to retrieve him from the horror shock, “Hello, don’t worry Gautam, I am not a master mind girl to harm you or anything. I just wanted to know how you respond. But it’s awesome to look on your horrific appearance. Cool down a bit now. I don’t do any such thing,” she said, as tossed a few Lays chips into her mouth again. Her eyes washed with wonderment and glee for her witty conversation. At least she thought so. Now, when she offered the chips, he had denied accepting it. He looked like terrified. The chips he had eaten before was still hanging around his throat for a while, he had to clear it first.

“But tell me where we are heading to,” Gautam asked. A small fear was leaking through his left eye as he said it.

A sudden ringtone roared from her black Samsung S4 mobile. She was trembled in her seat when she had seen her father was calling her. She put her finger on her lips and shushed him.

“Yes, pa….doing good…..hmm, I am in the bus with my friend Janani….we are going to iskon temple,” she said as blew huge air from her mouth and put the mobile in her small pink leather purse and zipped it.

“Are you all right?” he blinked his eyes at her. A mob of fear shot out of his eyes as he stared at her with his fixed eyes. He couldn’t believe that she had lied so easily with her father.

“Oh, goodness,” she shrieked as fluttered her eyelids, “I am seeing the fear in your eyes. That’s what I expected, you know.” She dusted off her hands and crushed the empty Lays plastic cover and put it inside her backpack, because she couldn’t find any dustbin in the outside.

The passengers all were seated inside and the engine of the bus was slowly thrumming, as the conductor blew a whistle slowly and frequently to guide it backwards. The air condition was keeping cool about the interior of the bus, as the glass windows at both sides had come down. The bus was packed with powerful braking system, whenever the driver pressed his feet on the brake, the bus was almost jammed. Letting the people jerk forward.

“C’mon tell me Reshmi. I couldn’t live with this suspense, it’s just eating my every cell in the body,” Gautam said.

“Wow, you have some guts to talk with girls, you know,” she said as screwed up her bowl shaped earrings.

The bus was pulled towards a wide road and headed to connect with national highway, “I am going to get down from this bus, if you don’t say why we are going to Chennai,” he said sternly. He had never talked such strident manner with her before, but for the first time and he was feeling a guilty pain trodden over him. He could hardly guess anything from her cue on going to Chennai.

“Okay, okay, let’s calm down for a while. I am going to give a dance screening test to participate in Rising Dancing Star competition with NextGen TV,” she said.

“Hey, that’s interesting news. But it’s too long distance to go and come back right,” Gautam said.

“That’s why I called you. Now I feel like someone is there next me to chat with,” Reshmi said, a little blush seeped out of her cheeks. But she had smiled through her dark eyes when she looked at him.

“I’m like your body guard then. That’s what you are trying to tell me, isn’t?” he said. Now, don’t you think he was a fool to talk like that?

She slapped on his shoulder. That was an audacious act to her caliber. Gautam was glimmered with surprise and shock, though it wasn’t a heavy punch to knock him down. But still he was feeling good for being close with her. At least she had called him instead of preferring anyone.

“Of course, not. I could have travelled alone, but there is something in me was disturbing from the moment I had seen you. I don’t know what it is. But it exists in me,” she said, her face was turned pinkish suddenly. Oh God is there a girl exists in the world to speak her thoughts so frankly. If that would have been the case, there won’t be any depression term exists in the world too. Everywhere you could see the blossoming of faces and good cheerful characters. Don’t you think so?

Gautam sat petrified and didn’t say anything and said after a ten long seconds, “What kind of disturbance that is?” he still couldn’t clearly understand what she was trying to say. His brain was flickering slowly to grasp the womanly language and it was new to him to enter into this girlish language.

She smacked him on his head, “I think the disturbance is coming from here,” she said, as brought his hand over her left bosom and suddenly threw his hand up, as if she suddenly realized what they were upto, “you are still a kid to know any of these things Gautam,” she almost scolded him.

“You still owe me an answer,” Gautam said as he looked deep into her eyes. This poor fellow didn’t understand what she was trying to make sense. Perhaps, the girls are always having the incredible maturity level beyond their actual age.

“I don’t have an answer Gautam. Just leave as it is,” she said and sulked childishly (but smiling inwardly for making him baffled), her face looked out the window, as roadside shops hovered past her speedily.

He fought with his thought whether to nudge her or not, before he brought his hand close to her to touch her sleekly shoulder. He decided finally not to. He was still not convinced about her character. He had considered himself a layman in that matter. It’s not his mistake, because even the God was mystified when he made a woman.

“What happened Reshmi? Did I talk something wrong?” he asked, as cleared a lump down his throat.

She folded her hands in front of him and slid a few inches back from him, careful enough not to touch her slim thighs with his body. She just thought this was not a right time to get into a deep relationship with him. She didn’t want to divert her focus from reaching her goal either.

*

Reshmi and Gautam both got down near NextGen TV channel building in Adayar. The crowd was already shrouded in the front yard and waiting for their opportunity to go inside. No wonder the competition was going to be heavy and stronger between the contestants. At least thousands of participants were standing there. She had to out thrive almost nine hundred and fifty members to get short listed for the Rising Dancing Star competition. The queue was bigger than the MNC software interview. Reshmi’s head was spun on seeing this throbbing crowd, but her spirit to win in this competition wasn’t failed inside her soul. On the other hand, Gautam crouched behind her and looked at the crowd with his gaped mouth.

“Do you think it’s possible to win in this competition?” he asked her. Miraculously, there were three separate queues to ease the processing. They stood near the gate end and attached themselves with the third queue like a tail of the mouse. Reshmi had asked him to stay with her until her audition was done, because she felt relaxed and unburdened while he stayed close to her.

“I have to make it, Gautam. I am not sure but I have to do what I am doing now. This is what makes me happy, you now,” she said. She was feeling tired and exhausted after they had travelled for seven long hours to come to Chennai. She didn’t even eat the breakfast. They had got down on the Koimbedu bus stand and refreshed themselves in the shoddy toilets inside there. The reeking smell was unbearable and still she had managed to clean herself. Though the Government had kept trying to retain the cleanliness in this place, it was getting tougher to keep it tidy, in spite of huge number of people transported from Chennai to all over the places in the state, daily.

“But this much crowd I haven’t even expected in the software interviews,” he said.

“This is not the place for the work bound people. This place is for the people who are innately talented. I mean, you have to be having blessed with the God. To receive the blessings of the God, you have to incline your ear to what He was saying, you know,” she said. It was unusual for her to talk like this with him, but his blatant question had demanded her to respond this way. Also she was happy to speak the truth whenever it was possible.

“I didn’t get what you are saying,” Gautam said, and scratched his back of the head.

“Good. Then leave it behind, let’s see if the queue is getting move ahead,” she said, smiling thinly.

Gautam didn’t want to agree that he was defeated. He wanted to further scrutinize her with his teaming or puzzling questions.

“You mean the software professionals are not blessed with God?” he asked. The question what he had posed, was seemed to be erratic to hear himself.

“No, I am not saying that,” she said, “Actually, I am trying to say that everyone is not blessed with the same skills as others had. I personally believe that each and every person is unique in this universe. One might be a very good coder and wanted to develop software programs while he feels himself contended and happy. And some may be wanted to be a banker, or sculpture, artist, or anything it could be. Because that’s what his passion, so he was doing it ceaselessly and in an extraordinary way. So parents can’t force you to become a software engineer only. Likewise, everyone has their own inborn talent buried deep in their souls, we have to bring it up, that’s our duty and life. Only when you do what you love, there would be happiness,” she said with a flush of cheeks.

“Hmm,” he said, as if he was getting the glimpse of what she was saying right now, “you mean, the huge number of people who are mulling in the software industries are not by nature talented people?”

“Yes, that’s what I meant to say. That’s why people are struggling to cope with this kind of work, there were so many differences and conflicts and tensions were streaming between employees only because of it. In fact, the stress related issues are popping up mainly due to the uninterested jobs we are doing. If anything we do passionately, that is the sign of leading a happy life, otherwise anything we do there won’t be lasting happiness,” she said. A few guys in the queue had thrown a dumbfound look at them. They didn’t expect such a serious talk from this pretty girl, although they were least worried about this ahead of their dance audition in the studio.

“Oh, I couldn’t believe this. What can we do? We are brought up like this, my parents are uneducated and they didn’t know this passion and all. They simply wanted their children to learn and get a finest job in the world. That’s all they are expecting from me. I need to get a job and settle down,” Gautam said. Boy, don’t you think he is too innocence to talk like this?

“That is the problem here. We are always seeing our children in the connotation of businessmen. To say it bluntly, parents are thinking on how much profit he is going to bring home, if we made him study in one of the biggest institution in the country. That thought should be eradicated completely,” she said with a faint disgust in her eyes. She moved three steps further, Gautam followed her.

“But how? You are talking like a pandit,” he said. His face was suddenly sulked as if he didn’t like her now. The queue is slowly moving and still they had to go a long way to enter the audition room.

Reshmi dabbed her eyes with her floral kerchief, which was drenched in cold water. The sun was very bright and heat waves were started haunting her now. She was slightly annoyed by this probing question. But she thought it was her responsibility to speak the truth and she had a strong faith in her own philosophy.

“The parents should try to inculcate the good attitude with their children first. I mean, parents should let their children evolve themselves. Different children had different capabilities. For example, can you imagine Einstein as a doctor? Or Abdul Kalam as a music director? Never, you couldn’t, it simply can’t be done against the nature. That’s where the nature plays an important role. If you wanted to call this force as God or anything, that is up to you. But in every living being the source of power to grow beyond the limitation is germinated. You just have to pamper it daily, that’s all you are going to do it, you know,” she said.

“Ah, I never thought this way,” Gautam said and gave a merry smile to her, “It’s really seems funny if I try to imagine even Amir Khan as a school teacher or something. I think they are great men to turn their lives into genius. Do you think I have the same intelligence with me? I don’t believe it, see I am a normal human being, and don’t even know how to talk in English clearly. How can you believe that I have an unlimited intelligence?”

Reshmi pushed her lock of hair fell on her forehead and tucked it behind her left ear.

“Yes, they are geniuses, I agree. But to achieve the genius, you don’t have to be a great man. I mean, just dissolve this separation. Be simple and honest with yourself. You just be a normal human being and don’t clutter your mind with unnecessary things. Just keep doing what you have interested. Interest means, not that sitting in the couch and watching TV for hours and hours. I mean, you have to sincerely converse with your heart to know your passion. If you know it, your life would be no more miserable and torture for you. That’s the way to lead a successful life. That’s sounds’ like very simple, isn’t?” she said and twinkled her left eye at him sweetly.

“Yeah, I feel like you have banged my mind with your thoughts. But I don’t know if I live my life the way you lead yourself. I am not a strong fellow, you know,” he said and grinned.

She whacked her head with her hand and walked close to the audition room, where several leading choreographers were testing the dancing skills of the young and dynamic dancers from the participants. To ease the operation, there were three audition rooms occupied adjacent to each one. Each queue was funneled separately.

“Just kill that thought Gautam, for feeling like a stupid. You are more than what you are. Anyway, I have to catch this chance, let me go and come back,” she said, as one lady stopped her suddenly from going inside, like a railway track was abruptly blocked with a long iron stump.

“Show me your id, are you a dancer?” the lady asked in a huskier tone. She looked short, bulky, and had a stark face.

“Yes I am,” Reshmi said, and feeling embarrassed. She showed her id which was issued to participate in the contest. The lady scanned it very seriously and asked her to go in.

“What about you?” the lady asked Gautam.

“He is accompanying me, he is my friend,” Reshmi said, still lingering there.

“No, he can’t go inside,” the lady blared and shook her head and pushed Gautam away. He was stammered for a while and came out with a starved heart. Reshmi held a serious and gloomy face while she had looked at him over her shoulder. Gautam had thought of seeing her performance while she dances in front of the choreographers. But his anticipation was mutilated here, he felt bad and tormented, as the lady had treated him brutally.

“You now go inside,” the lady thundered as looked into Reshmi’s cowering eyes.

Gautam had looked at her through the small glass window, but it was not clear from where he stood. This sudden separation was unbearable to Reshmi, she looked contrite and damned. Her heart pined to look after him, but he was not there anymore.

A bell rang at the audition room, and she was escalated into the room with her feeble legs. There were three choreographers already sat in the high backed leather chairs in front of elevated floor in the room. She stood behind the door and looked at them with her chin slightly dropped down.

“Good, what kind of dance you know. I mean folk, western or something else?” the big fellow, who had a crooked haircut and goaty chin said.

Reshmi slowly lifted up her head. Feeling deprived of energy, she said in a low voice, “western.”

“Okay, let’s start now,” he asked her to dance.

She gathered her legs to dance, but one more fellow who was sitting in the middle had asked her to stop with a strident roaring voice, “first let us know, what are you doing currently and why are you participating in this contest?”

The big fellow had gritted his teeth because his command was deteriorated.

“Sir, I am working as a software engineer in Bangalore. I am interested in the dance from the beginning I was doing my sixth grade. I wanted to prove myself as a dancer and that’s why I came here,” she said in a small thumping voice. She had felt the question was irrelevant to the occasion, and she didn’t want to respond them either. She always felt, there shouldn’t be any comparison between the work they do and the passion they had harnessed over the years. Also, she thought there might be a chance that she might get rejected due to the tweaky response she had showered on them, and of course there was a chance that they might get biased with her blunt answer.

“It’s strange. Being a software engineer this is none of your business to aspire to become a dancer,” the first fellow, who was looking shorter than others said. He had a nice paunch and a big mole sitting on top of his forehead.

“Why not sir? I am from middle class family and there was hardly any assistance from my parents to reach my aspiration initially. I could only able to horn this creative skills at part time. Because my parents were not willing to see me as a dancer, but at the same time I am not interested to lose my talent either. It took me several years of hard work and consistent practice to become a dancer. Also I don’t want to demean my parents so, I went ahead and finished my degree and pursued the software career. And finally I am here to prove my ability,” she said, almost gasping for the air. Her tender bosom shot up and down for twenty seconds.

“Good explanation. But let’s see how capable are you,” the middle fellow beckoned at her.

The song from Taal movie was played at the backdrop, as Reshmi sprung her legs to initiate her frantic movements. Though her energy level was sunk low in the morning, now it was suddenly thriving up. Her eyes were flared with vivacious sight as she lifted up her legs elegantly and swooped around in a brilliant style. Every cell in her body was exhilarated when she whisked her hands to form a fresh movement. The judges in the seat were flicked their eyebrows up as they watched her. Three of them exchanged a haughty smile and simpering looks. But Reshmi was never existed there at all. Just she could feel that something mysterious was working through her body, but she couldn’t define it well. And the splendor of her dance was stupefying as her each slim legs discharged a huge amount of energy and elegance. You could hardly believe the movements she was making through her supple body. Her feet were swiftly passing in the air with outstanding radiance and jubilation. At the peak of her performance, the song was getting slowly died up. Immediately, her body synchronized to the hushing music as well.

“Fine performance,” the third fellow had screeched.

Reshmi bowed down her head and thanked. She was panting, but her eyes were gleaming and joyful since she knew that she drew a solid dancing performance in front of them.

“But, I don’t see more creative steps in this choreography,” the middle fellow croaked, rubbing his side of the nose.

Reshmi’s heart clenched tighter upon hearing his lethal comments. She knew that three of them had to be in same rhythm while selecting a candidate to represent in the dance show. She swallowed a thick lump down her throat and gazed at them with highly expectant eyes. You could hear her knuckles were snapped as she interlinked her hands together. This was such an important milestone for her to be got selected, otherwise her dream to become a dancer would be doomed forever. Of course, you might not get the same opportunity over and over. Also your age might play a big role in shaping your career too. In every aspect, she had to gain this offer otherwise she might lose her confidence in reaching her dream.

“I think, the first half is better than the second half. I had felt there is sudden drop of energy when she was dancing at the final reach of the song. Did you notice it?” the first fellow intercepted them, and shot his eyes at Reshmi, who stood precariously to respond him.

Her nerves twanged and the blood flow had suddenly pricked her heart when she responded with slow and hesitating voice, “Sir, I think the song which I have danced had dropped its voice at the end, so I had to adjust my steps according to the pitch of the song,” she responded with high confidence on justifying her movements.

“Hah, that’s insulting. A small girl like you, teaching us, eh?” the middle fellow blared in an arrogant voice. His jaw twitched in sudden jubilation of argument and his shoulders jangled up and down as he looked straight into her eyes. Reshmi suddenly cowered back as if her soles of the feet were pricked by thorns.

“No, sir. I was justifying your questions. That’s it. I am not against your comments,” Reshmi said. Beads of sweat were already getting popped up on her forehead as she swallowed a thick lump down again. A moment she thought if they were going to beat her down on the floor. A steady stream of fear was engulfing in her heart as she looked at them with her hesitant but dull eyes.

“Huh, you are justifying…ugh...what a crummy language you are using. You are not even earned a chance as a ballet dancer, but you are giving remarks against my comments, eh,” the middle fellow was again flaring in red shot eyes. His thin and curved mustache was raising high and low, as he banged his fist in front of the long table. The pure water in the glass was shivered and a few drops dripped down from the table.

Reshmi was in the verge of crying now. She definitely knew she had lost the chance and had to move back to Bangalore with her empty hands. She looked frail and obsessed with wreaking thoughts as she stood there. You could see her knees were quivering and her lips were trembling with feeble capacity of energy.

“I am sorry sir. I have said something wrong. Forgive me,” she said, as tears were lined up on her both eyelids like a string of pearls.

The first and middle fellows mumbled together, while the third fellow shook his head and looked at Reshmi with his cuddling eyes. The third fellow was genuine and honorable person among them. There was no doubt. But what was the use of it. She had to gain at least two of the judges confidence to back her up, otherwise she had to pack up and flee away from there. They two had never intercepted the third guy’s comments to make a final decision. Reshmi had clenched her hand and pressed it against her upper thigh as she waited for the result anxiously. This decision was going to change the path of her life, no doubt about it, only if they had shown a glimpse of interest in her well-choreographed dance. God, alone knows what they had discussed.

The middle fellow had croaked his voice, as pressed his lips tightly.

“I think. You need to practice more. The energy level you had shown is not sufficient for us to allow you into further stage. We are sorry about that,” he said, as stretched his lips somberly. He had a heart at least to feel that she was going to be unhappy with his decision. His unjustified judgment made Reshmi to shudder her body, as thick and electrified charge descended through her spine. The fresh tears were swarmed up over her eyes as she heard him. Her breathing was suddenly interrupted and became irregular. It’s like there was sudden drop of oxygen level in the room.

“Best of luck next time,” the first fellow crooned after him. But the third fellow was screaming with vehemence inside. He knew it was an offence, to detach her from this dancing competition. Of course, it is a criminal offence if one of the top performers is getting rejected with injustice. The offensive panel should be hung down. How the internal politics or the internal rift between them could destroy the mightiest chance one girl hard earned. That was considered to be a murder of independence.

Reshmi flew out of the room, cupping her hands over her trembling mouth. She knew the pain she had went through over the years to earn an opportunity with a big dance program like this. This was really a life turning point for her, if she had got selected. But the untimely and unjustified judgment had forsaken her chance of becoming a popular dancer to feast the eyes of millions of people.

*

Chapter 9: Mobile fighting

For last six months of job hunting process, it was highly questionable if Kamesh’s brain power has increased a bit to get a job. But his hair had shown a tremendous growth and the beard also was dropping down to his chest. Before he came to Bangalore, he had prayed to Lord Venkatesaperumal in Tirupathi and told Him that he would donate his hair if he gets the job in one of the reputed software companies. But two months went and four months went….but there was not even a glimpse of positive response on this hunting process, now he had past six months successfully and still jobless and his face was looked like completely veiled by his mushroomed hair.

“Hey man, you better do haircut man, it’s really disgusting to see your face now,” Madhan said jocularly, holding a communication theory book in his hand. He was stepping into twenty fifth interview on coming Thursday, if he attend the upcoming interview with Thomasalight soft Ltd. He was proud of that fact, because he was the first person in this room going to achieve this phenomenon in a quick time, while Kamesh was still lacking four companies to achieve this tremendous feat. On the other hand, Gautam was still way below to join them in this monumental journey. In fact, he was ashamed of not able to club with his friends on this milestone.

“No, I have given promise to the Lord and I couldn’t take it back. I hope in the coming interview I will definitely get a job. Then I will go to Tirupathi and dedicate my hair to Him,” Kamesh said, as combed his long hair with his fat fingers. The hair was flopping down on his shoulders and his ears were completely blocked out. Actually, he had a coconut in his hands and removing the brown hair of it, which he wanted to break down for pudhina chutney for chapathis, tonight’s dinner.

“C’mon be realistic. Never give such stupid promises, see now, your hair has grown beyond your face and I think the interviewers would not be happy with the ghostly appearance you have now,” Madhan teased. He didn’t want to give up on pursuing him to shave his hair right now.

“That is ridiculous. How can they underestimate the power of my mind when it comes to my appearance? No, way, they had to give me a job if I am brilliant enough to feed their brain,” Kamesh said, as he suddenly became furious to look at.

“That is a rule and you couldn’t avert it, man. Even if we have a clean shaven face, it was doubtful if we could get a job, but on seeing your face I have no doubt that they are going to immediately kick you out of the premises,” Lawrence said and guffawed.

Gautam was serenely sat next to Madhan and giggled as he cupped his left hand over his mouth. It was always something so funny and excitement for him when it comes to deal with Kamesh. He was holding a book about ‘how to win an interview.’ This book was recommended exclusively by Kamesh out of his liberating experience on this subject.

“Damn it, you snooper, don’t abolish my self-confidence on finding a job. One important thing you should know is, don’t show us your ass saying that you have got a job. You better shut up,” Kamesh said to Lawrence, as his splayed right hand pushed forward to signify his statement methodically.

Lawrence was deeply agitated by his pungent comment and started fuming. He snatched the mobile which was kept beside to him and hurtled it forcefully onto the wall and bang….it was broken into thousand pieces. The interesting fact was that this mobile was Kamesh’s. His father had brought it from the Xiomi show room and sent to him as a birth day gift a few months back. On seeing this nerve wrenching tragedy, Kamesh’s nose flared in jolt of strong condemnation. Blood was curdled in his arms as he looked at the dead mobile in sheer shock.

“You damn fool,” Kamesh rose from his place and grinded his teeth heading to fight with Lawrence, who had already covered his head with both hands, “that’s my Dad’s gift. How dare you to break it,” he boomed as he fisted his fat hand and charged forward relentlessly.

“I am sorry man. I didn’t notice it was your mobile,” Lawrence said as shrugged back with uncontrollable fear. He knew Kamesh was unstoppable when it comes to deal with the personnel things. He knew well that he was no match for this fatso to fight and claim the victory. That was impossible even to think about it. He had to go fawning with him, otherwise he would be smashed like super over in T20.

Gautam thought he had to do something here to dislodge the impending fight between them. The way Kamesh had grudged, it seems like he was going to tear Lawrence into two halves. Gautam had threw aside the book and stood in front of Kamesh to seduce his anger and wanted to break the fight. In the other end, Madhan was feeling overjoyed for getting an opportunity to enjoy this steaming battle between his friends, he wants to know who had broken whose jaw and how many teeth had been uprooted by the attacker. He never had seen this kind of fight for more than three months now, also he felt deprived and starved without seeing such glaring and uproarious battle. Hence, he had sat down without any riffle and with his saunter face looked at Kamesh, who was bellowing with hot smoke like a steam engine.

“Cool down Kamesh….Cool down for a moment. Let us talk with him and settle down this matter,” Gautam said, wrestling with his fat hands as stopped him like a bullfighter.

“You better go out of it…if not I will knock you down too,” Kamesh was furious and frenetic with his screaming energy which was ripping through his skin. Gautam was stammered to halt this fiery bull, sorry, Kamesh, who had threw him aside like a plate and raised his hand with glaring intensity and temerity as it had pummeled on the stomach of Lawrence, who was suddenly collapsed on the floor as if he had been triggered with a bullet into his chest. No, he was not dead. His hair was slowly rippling up and down as he breathed in a smothering spirit, like he was going to die in a fifteen minutes or something. Kamesh had already done the damage, and suddenly he realized with a frown in his face that he had beaten his friend and he was wounded. In fact, he was frightened for beating down his friend to death, though he was still clenching his breath to alive. The remorse for the sin was flashing into his mind, as he knelt down beside to Lawrence and shook him with his fat hands. “My dear friend, wake up man, you don’t die…” he crooned with a malleable voice.

There was hardly any lip movements. Lawrence’s eyelids had slowly crinkled to look out, on seeing Kamesh’s calm face, he was infuriated with anguish and his nerves were thrumming inside the skin to take revenge over him and in a flashy moment he rose to a strong position and pummeled back straight onto Kamesh’s stout nose, which was poured blood in return. A few drops were dribbled on the floor while Kamesh was still not recovered from this sudden attack from his friend. Gautam had noticed the fight was going in a different sphere and wanted to cut this umbilical cord fighting immediately. Madhan was still not satisfied with this stunt, was leafing through the book like he had never done before.

“Kamesh, blood is coming down from your nose, you better stop fighting man,” Gautam told him, he had clasped his both hands from his back. But Kamesh wasn’t going to stop now, his anger was doubled and he wanted to dismantle Lawrence with his valiant force. His muscle in cheeks had knocked in and out as he threw an arrogant and infiltrating glance at him. He shoved aside Gautam’s hand and said, “Don’t talk until this fight is finished.”

“You stop there….don’t come close to me….you fatso,” Lawrence said, threw a few books at him. Kamesh took it as a bite of an ant and rushed forward and clenched his shirt and shook it wildly. And he rubbed aside the blood from his nose and hooked him with his seething eyes.

“You have become heartache for us after getting a job. You are behaving unruly with us for past two months. You are raising your voice always and trying to dominate small fellows like us. You think you are intelligent and we are damn fools. You arrogant and snobbish fellow. I am no more feeling the bond between you and us is rewarding and joyous,” Kamesh said. He had all the vehemence and atrocity for him right now.

Madhan suddenly saw the fight was taking in a different course and he felt it was right time to plunge into this heated discussion. He closed the book and snuggled behind Gautam, who was still didn’t know what would be the outcome of this sturdy bullying of each other.

“How can I give you heartache man? I am as normal as before, but you are seeing me in different perception from the moment I had received my job. If you guys continue to treat me this way from hear on, I will go and join with my colleague,” Lawrence said, almost threatened them by shaking his index finger in front of them.

“Lawrence you don’t talk stupidly,” Madhan said with a caressing tone, “you know about his character right. Don’t take him serious man. Come here, we would always be good friends,” he said, as grabbed the hand of Lawrence, who shook it and stepped back. Boy, he was serious now. You could see a nerve on his forehead was twanging high and low. A sudden commotion seized in the room. This was the first time everyone was feeling completely baffled by this situation.

“No, I am saying seriously,” Lawrence roared, as cocked his one eye at Kamesh, who had swallowed a lump down his throat on hearing it.

“Be calm man. Don’t take decision abruptly. It will only bring more pain and disturbed mind,” Gautam said. He was satisfied with himself for this timely response. But he wasn’t sure how these words were going to change his lethal thoughts on forsaking them.

“Why are you begging him to stay here? Let him go wherever he want. Let him sleep with whichever witch come across, if that’s what his wish,” Kamesh muttered, as lifted up his round shoulders. His teeth were clattering inside his mouth, as he bore a heavy threatening look at his friend.

“Kamesh, you don’t meddle with this matter. You stay afloat from this,” Madhan said in a strident voice. Kamesh had suddenly flipped aside his head, and beat his thighs with his curled fist. The anger was still lurking behind his big eyes as it was changing the colors constantly from orange to purple and purple to red.

“No, man this is not going to work out. I better leave from here now,” Lawrence said and scurried to the bedroom and looked at the shelf where he kept the suitcase, which was filled with the clothes and files. He grabbed the suitcase from the second rack and put it down with a heavy thudding impact on the floor. The dust flew on top of it and entered into his nostrils and made him to sneeze. Then pulled his clothes laid in the clothline which was tied close to the wall and he plonked it into the suitcase.

“Lawrence, you don’t go man. It will be all right if you stay with us one night. Take it easy,” Gautam said, as he entered into the bedroom and standing behind him as stopped him from packing.

“Once you get the job, tell me. I will come and visit you…for showing some sympathy and compassion. But you can’t alter my thoughts man,” Lawrence said, as he shoved away his hand from the suitcase and pressed the clothes while closing the suitcase firmly. He then locked it on both sides as it was clicked with metallic sound.

“We don’t want any unauthorized person to visit our room from now on,” Kamesh growled in response to Lawrence’s staunch comment. His head lifted up and there was hardly any compassion for his friend could be found now. There were no misty eyes or anything to back his friend. He knew that Lawrence was his thick and close friend in the room before he had received the job offer, but after that there was a slim line was drawn between them and their friendship was tainted and blemished with lot of scratches and pungent remarks. They both still tried to join the north and south poles together with an abounding force until now, but it was ended in hatred and agony.

“See, what your ruler is saying,” Lawrence said, as looked grimacing at Kamesh and lifted up the suitcase and walked into the living room. But, Madhan was still didn’t want to leave him out, as he clutched his left hand and dragged him back. Everything was happening in a rapid manner, his heart couldn’t grasp the sequels of their intensive fight. Until now, he had a mere hope that Lawrence would stay back in the room and would be having a great party for rejoining again. But that mere hope was no more lingering in his soul, he thought the unbreakable bond between them was broken with a hefty axe. There was no pacifying speech was going to help him to pull him back into this royal castle. You could see that his shoulders were dropped down and his knees got sagged low while unable to confront this wrangling scene.

“You go hell out of here, don’t show your face again,” Kamesh blared, as pointing his index finger at the door, as if Lawrence had forgotten where the entrance door is.

Lawrence had crushed the already dead mobile like his feet was pressing upon Kamesh’s face and stood virile in front of him. He gave a final and reclusive look to his friends but a fiend glance at Kamesh as he headed into the entrance door. When he went out, Kamesh had slammed the door shut with a heavy impact, as the flakes of paint from walls dropped down in shiver. It was a symbolic gesture that there friendship was mutilated and jangled now.

*

Reshmi and her team had gathered in the office canteen and sat around a green square table. Particularly, Kokila was blowing in full gallop after hearing the pernicious comments from the team lead. Yes, she hadn’t completed the task, though she had come on the last weekend to finish her job. She had sacrificed the precious and warmest Saturday and Sunday for the sake of her project, but the result hadn’t been achieved and looked far from her sight. He had rammed her once again. Her nostrils were folding in and out like wings of the butterflies as she sat down in the blue plastic chair, opposite to Reshmi. Next to Reshmi, Lawrence had sat and Sophi was sitting just opposite to him as well.

“This is impossible to handle him, he is really a monstrous in human form,” Kokila said, her both hands on the top of her head. A purple smoke was bellowing out from her nostrils.

“Oh goodness, I don’t know what happened to him. Looks like he always targeting me,” Reshmi said, still the residue of his heated discussion with her was lingered in her eyes. Not to say, Lohit had blasted her with his brandishing tongue. It was an additional blow to her, after her meaty embarrassment in the audition program. She couldn’t just come out of this deplorable moment. Two drops of tears were still clinging to her eyes.

“Take it easy Reshmi. He is like that only,” Lawrence said, as cupped his hand with hers and stroked it warmly. Reshmi hand jerked back but his hold was firm. Yes, his action meant that he was giving a special attention to her.

“Is he stupid or what to behave so harshly with the girls? Why this f…fellow treats us badly,” Kokila said and skipped the ‘f’ word, her jaw whisked sideways viciously as her huge eyes cocked with fearless anguish. She had never dared to enunciate such steaming and glaring looks while the team lead was blasting her inside the office. All her hidden and tortured feelings would be popped out with tremendous jolt when she was out of the cage. Actually her blood was heating inside her body with frothing bubbles like boiling water under immense heat. If there was an opportunity to meet him alone in the office, she would have punched him at the back of his neck, and let it break like uprooting a tree in one swift stroke. You bet, she had such a huge arms to come out clean with this task. But the opportunity would ever exist in her imagination only, because she couldn’t catch him alone in this big office.

“Hey Koki, be calm. Why are you getting so excited?” Sophi said.

“You are the queen of this office. You may say this coolly to me, because he hadn’t threaten you, isn’t?” Kokila said with a mockery tone.

Sophi closed her eyes tightly to elucidate that she was fuming with Koki’s poking comment and after a brief pause she said, “C’mon don’t be silly. You have not completed the work, so he had questioned you. But why should he had to blame me, since I have finished my work on time,” she said and threw up her hands. Her black earrings shook fiercely when she glared at Koki.

“Hah, we know what kind of work you are doing. The work even an eighth grade student can able to do that. Don’t give us the shitty reasons for he wasn’t blaming you. I don’t know what he had seen in you to behave foolishly,” Koki said.

“You better shut your tongue, Koki. You are teasing me badly. Don’t insult me and my work,” Sophi said, her eyes turned misty and glistened.

“Why should I keep my tongue shut? This is my property and I hold all the responsibility to enjoy myself. I can talk for hours, who are you to question me?” Koki raised her voice. The other fellows from table had seen them and lowered their heads. They thought these girls had ruined the dignity of their company, someone had casted shoddy grimace at her for behaving like a bazaari. Reshmi had elbowed her hand at Koki and cupped her forehead while she had heard her friend’s biting remarks against Sophi.

“Koki, be quiet. See everyone is looking at us. It’s embarrassing to hear you talk like that. Please stop yelling at your colleague,” Lawrence said firmly with a perky voice. He clenched his teeth and shook his head as if he had disgusted by Koki’s searing comment.

“Oh, c’mon boy, say something practical. She is snubbing me to bullshit here. But you are simply prodding her wild behavior, eh? This is not good Lawri,” Koki said. She was bustling with spurious thoughts as she twirled her eyes at him.

“Reshmi better you control her, I am useless when it comes to deal with the girls,” Lawrence said and shrugged. Not only you buddy, there are plenty of men feel the same way sometimes, just take it easy.

“I am powerless too…I give up,” Reshmi said and smiled. She had scooped the mug from the table and sipped with a dimple in her left cheek. She was looking bright now, though she had troubles with her team lead. She didn’t want to lose her fifteen minutes happiness at break time, and it was her pinnacle point of satisfaction for coming to the office. If she had lost this least point of happiness in her life, she had no meaning in earning handful of bucks in the month end. Almost most of the employee’s life was spinning around this coffee and lunch hours.

“Hey Lawri, don’t take it serious,” Koki nudged him with her words, “I have never meant that to you. You take it easy,” she said and hurtled her left eye at Sophi, whose cheeks flared amber color now. Her black kajal on her eyebrows were melting in the heat of her face. She had to do something now, otherwise she would take this embarrassment to new heights, not to bewilder if she had thought of plunging into suicide.

“Stop this nonsense Koki. Speak like a professional. Are you coming here to work or quarrel with us,” Sophi said in a thick and harsh voice. Her upright breasts were bouncing up and down in her chocolate brown kameez as she spun her hands in a relentless passion.

“No, I am not quarreling here,” Koki banged the table with her mighty hand, as few coffee mugs were toppled down and filled the coffee on the table, it went dripping down on the floor as if tears were crawling from her eyes, “We are coming here to work, but you are….I don’t think so,” she said with an enormous vengeance in her heart. Reshmi had nothing to do, but clean the table with her handkerchief. The white kerchief had turned dark brown as it was swum in the pool of coffee. If you squeeze this, a half-liter coffee could be redistributed. But the quarrel was blooming into different direction and everyone around them was impressively waiting for it to happen, like waiting for a premier show in the TV. C’mon guys let’s go and break this infiltrating friendship.

“You are speaking beyond your limits. Don’t raise your voice more, otherwise I don’t know what am I going to do?” Sophi said, her rotund finger was shaking thunderously. Her white pupils of the eyes turned orange in a screaming atrocity.

“You better know what you wanted to do, then we will fight each other, ok?” Koki simply doused her sneaky comment with her infectious statement.

“Hey, girls this is something horrible to see. Before to this, you girls had something to fight each other, but now you both are fighting without any agenda. See, what other team members going to think about us,” Lawrence cried. He hoped that someone would save him from this entangling situation. Earlier he had thought, being alone with girls was a noble and chest pumping moment for him. But, now, he was in sheer altercation to stay with them closely. In fact, he had hoped the Lord might save him from this ensnarling situation to breath into normal life.

“You don’t meddle with us, Lawri. This is our personnel issue, we will sort it out,” Koki said in a frenetic style by twisting her large mouth. Her left palm had patted over her huge right arm as if she was exposing her stout arm to the public display. Lawrence had cowered back in his seat as he abruptly swallowed a large lump down his throat. His cheeks were trembled with weak strength as he witnessed her taming ability with anyone.

“Koki…..c’mon my girl….be sportive,” Reshmi crooned, as she poked her index finger at her ribs. Kokila had suddenly blasted a roaring smile. It was her weak point. Reshmi had a remote in her hand to control her, she was proud of it.

A tall and imposing boy came suddenly from nowhere and scraped a chair and seated beside Reshmi and said, “Hi,” to everyone. He looked milky white in complexion, had close trimmed beard and mustache, hair was neatly curled and fashionable, and had a long soft nose and reddish lips. He was looking so modern in the group, and his slang was heavy with Eastern culture. He wore costliest blue and red checked shirt and sturdy blue jeans. Even the color of Reshmi looked somewhat dark when he was near to her.

“Hello Shravanth, so how did you find me here,” Lawrence said, smiling very thin. He was his latest roommate, and they both were staying in Domlur. After his calamitous exit from his old room, he had finally found a new partner to be with him. This new guy was referred by his college friend and now he was living joyfully without Kamesh’s rousing infliction on him. He hadn’t met his old friends after that incident, though sometimes he felt nostalgic about his past life for had had stayed with them closely earlier.

“Oh, is this a big deal to find a guy in this company, which has only two blocks and eight hundred employees,” Shravanth responded with alacrity and pleasure.

Koki’s eyes were glued at him and forgot every nuisance she had done before with her teammate, Sophi.

“Anyway, meet our teammates,” Lawrence said and introduced them. Reshmi had felt uneasy to seat next to that new guy. She had greeted him with a worry and sullen face, when he shook hands with her. It was no wonder he had shook his hands vigorously with her, as if he wanted to crack her bones.

“So, why all of you looking glum and sad, anything wrong with you guys,” Shravanth said, trying to rekindle the lost spirit among them. He flashed a big grin while looking at Kokila, who was melting like an ice cream in his charm.

“No, nothing, we are just held in surprise after seeing you,” Sophi said, ringing her fingers.

“Yeah, we were having lots of fun earlier together before you join us, you know,” Kokila said, as turned her side glance at Sophi, who threw a mellow glance in return. Oh, God, how quickly these two girls found their harmony despite their threatening vengeance buried in their minds a few minutes earlier. That’s how the behavior of the girls could change inline to the demanding situations.

“Oh, is it? That’s wonderful. Let’s carry on then, consider me as a part of your team, you know,” Shravanth said and gave a lofty smile.

“That would not be easier. We are seeing you for the first time in our life, how could suddenly we can embrace you,” Reshmi said, she showed some gritty attitude before him. In fact, she didn’t like he was being there. She felt like some alien had visited them, despite the fact that he was looking tidy and charm. Something was pricking her heart, when he had opened his mouth to speak something. That didn’t fit to the lively conversation they had earlier. Of course, it was not an interesting and cuddling conversation though, but salient and more importantly not robotic. The cliché of fight in the name of teasing each other was common with everyone, so she had never worried about her friends who were bullying each other earlier.

“Hey, Reshmi, why are speaking like that. I always thought you are a better person than all of us. But you…I feel ashamed of,” Lawrence scolded her mildly, as his shoulders dropped down.

“Hah, don’t say that. She is right, after all I am from different team and haven’t met you guys before, isn’t?” Shravanth said. His rosy cheeks were already turned dry and pale.

“But still…Reshmi. You should justify your anger on him,” Koki said.

Reshmi didn’t churn on hearing her comment and stayed unconcerned.

“Okay Lawri, I will meet you in the room. Better, I go off from here,” Shravanth said as looked at Reshmi as if he was waiting for her permission to leave.

“No one has to leave because of me,” Reshmi said with stubbornness. Her head was not ruffled an inch as she looked down at the table.

“C’mon Reshmi, behave yourself. This is very childish, you know,” Lawrence screamed in a low voice.

Reshmi didn’t say anything and stood up. She clenched the coffee mug tightly in her hand and whisked her head away from looking at them. Then she had spun in long strides out of the canteen. She was really pissed off by Lawrence’s heavy accusing comment. Oh dear boy, never ever speak to a girl in that language. You better watch your tongue man.

*

Chapter 10: A cat’s squeal

“YOU SNOBBISH, WAKE up…….”

“Oh dear pick up the call da…..”

“My sweet teddy bear…..let’s chat with me da…..”

“What are you doing….my cheeeeaaaattt darling…..c’mon c’mon pick up the call…..”

Reshmi had sent those aforementioned messages along with fifty more messages to stir Gautam. But he was ardent to swim in the sleepiness, as he and his friends Madhan and Kamesh cuddled together while sleeping in the same straw mat. Suddenly Madhan rose from his bed to go for piss, he staggered there with his flailing legs, his eyes half closed, as he headed towards the toilet. There was a flick of sound, the thin plywood door of the toilet was sprung open, as he entered into it. A steady hissing sound emerged while he was working on his mission. It was his regular habit to wake up in the middle and unload the toxic liquid from his body. When he returned back, he had wobbled like a senior citizen who would shake his body while walking down the street, and his feet tripped about the book and he fell on the floor as his ass bumped solidly. His semi-conscious state was collapsed and he had opened his eyes fully now. His focus stayed on the phone which was continuously flashing the screen on and off with incoming messages. He snatched the phone and unlocked the pattern (everyone in the room knows the security pattern of each phone, but still they thought their phone was secured). The phone was already flooded with so many messages and missed calls. He had seen the message had come from Reshmi and shocked when he had seen such a dearly messages from her. There was no sleepiness stained face he had now, after reading the messages every speck of sleep flew away. Gautam had never told them that he loved her. He thought it was not important to proclaim it to them, since he wasn’t sure how they could respond to it. Definitely he was frightened about Kamesh who had already sucked out Lawrence from this room. Now, Madhan in glowing tremor had lifted up his left leg and pummeled at Gautam’s buttocks. Gautam rolled sideways before he sat on the straw mat and rubbed his eyes with his fingers. The glaring brightness of the tubelight had fell on his face as his eyes opened sluggishly.

“What happened man? Why did you beat me when I am sleeping?” Gautam mewled in a complaining tone.

“Fuck, why didn’t you told me about this?” Madhan’s face tightened in a snarl, as he pointed his middle finger at the phone.

“What? I don’t understand,” Gautam said, as he threw aside the blanket and picked up the phone.

“How did you correct this girl, man? You know, I didn’t expect this from you,” Madhan said, feeling dejected. Definitely he wasn’t going to sleep tonight. He looked like he was going to prepare the whole night to attend the CAT exam in the morning. He had a secret love affair in the corner of his heart for Reshmi, when he had last met in the Sine&Cos Soft Inc interview. From that day onwards wherever he went in the city, his eyes would look forward for her glimpse and obeisance.

“No, it’s nothing man. We are just friends,” Gautam said, as he started scrolling down the messages she had sent for him. His eyes were glimmered with fascination and jubilation, on reading the message sweet teddy bear…. She never had sent such cuddling message to him. He didn’t know how to show his happiness in front of Madahan, also his heart was bounced in ecstasy when he had seen thirty missed calls within fifteen minutes. It had probed his mind to think about what was happened to her to call him so flirtatiously now.

“You stop bullshitting on me. I have seen everything. Do you think I am a fool to believe there is nothing between you and Reshmi, after I have read those fifty messages about kissing and fucking and all,” Madhan said. Oh, boy he was really feeling very bad now. His cheek bones were clattering inside, as he clenched his face in sheer frustration.

“C’mon buddy, there is nothing between us as you think. I think she had drunk or something, otherwise she won’t send such messages to me. Even I doubt if this messages were posted wrongly to me,” Gautam claimed. He didn’t want to frustrate Madhan, because he knew he was a feeble heart fellow and worry about it for decades. You know what, after Lawrence had bumped away from this room, he was become nostalgic about him and didn’t eat food for two days. Don’t you think that was a big sacrifice?

“You are a liar. Don’t fool me,” Madhan cried now, he had shed tears too. That was the pinnacle point to claim that he was a human and had some ante on his head to cry as well. His cry had really made Gautam to feel sad and worried. He had never felt guilty like this before, but for the first time. His heart was melted like ghee in a hot pan.

“No, man. I’m telling you truth. How do you want to prove me? Shall I call her now and ask her?” Gautam said to him. He had a faint hope that Reshmi was definitely going to reject him now. But he was happy at the same time, to clarify the true stance between them.

“Ok, put the phone in speaker mode,” Madhan said morosely.

“Done,” Gautam said and dialed to Reshmi. There were five rings elapsed before she picked up the phone and hollered his name in a romantic way.

“Hey, Gautam…this is too much…how long should I call you to contact you. It’s look like I can even get a chance to talk to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, but not with you, eh?” she cajoled him. She was in the hostel bed, her face was looking up to the ceiling, and stroking her tendrils of black hair which fell on her forehead. She had a separate room in the hostel and it was a small room but had enough space for a girl to stay there. She wore a purplish nighty which had diamonds littered on it. Her face was shone brilliantly with the full moon which was hovering slowly above the sky in the dark night, as the white light was penetrated through the window.

“Sorry Reshmi, I was sleeping and I had put the phone in silent mode,” Gautam said.

Madhan had hurtled his eyes hither and thither to signify his stomping emotions on him. He didn’t open his mouth. But his face did all the talking. His heart was suddenly bloomed with wonderful feelings as he heard her voice in the speaker. But this ephemeral happiness had lasted for a brief period of time, since he wanted to know her intention about Gautam. His ears were pricked sharply like CBI officer to know why she had kept calling at Gautam.

“It’s okay Gautam, I am feeling little shy when I talk over phone with you,” she whacked her head with her hand and crinkled her left eye before she continued, “I wanted to talk to you a lot more, but I am falling short. I don’t know, why.”

Madhan’s heart blasted like nuclear bomb, as he heard what she said. He was feeling sad now not because she didn’t show a glimpse of interest on him, but because she was feeling all the love for Gautam. It was fifteenth love for him throughout his life time, he had started loving girls from his seventh standard when he had proposed a teacher’s daughter at first sight. The girl was studying fifth grade and her mother had brought her to the class room because the girl wanted to see her mother taking classes. On seeing this girl in a blue frock and pink pony tails, his heart was summoned to fall in love with her. In fact, he had written a love letter in the same spot but before he finished writing the letter the class was finished and she ran away with her mother in the end. There were several heart wrenching love stories had come across his life, but today it was different love altogether because he was in love with the same girl who was in love with his friend. Don’t you feel it’s quite a tragedy for Madhan?

“So, tell me now why did you call me?” Gautam asked her casually. He was still not celebrating the hint she was showing about her love with him. He knew the strategy of the girls very well from the beginning but he didn’t want to have an obsessed faith on them so early.

“No, I don’t want to tell you now. Will you come to meet me now in my hostel?” Reshmi said. Her voice was soft and coming in hushes like a puppy squeal. Time was already knocking 11.30 in the November night, the cold air was hissing along the streets.

Madhan had already poured whisky into a glass and drank it raw. That was the seducer for him as of now to keep him calm and composed. You know why, isn’t?

“It’s almost midnight Reshmi. The security guard is always a stronger and muscled person in girls’ hostel. I don’t think I can jump into your hostel. It’s impossible, you know,” Gautam said. That was a Himalayan task for him, and he couldn’t imagine jumping off the fence to enter into her room. That needs some guts altogether if he had to be successful, he doubted if he had any. Moreover, it was night and chances are higher that he was caught and be handed over to the police. Not to mention about his parents who would sail from Pudukottai to Bangalore to give a preaching on how to live a bachelor life. He had detested this thought more than anything else as of now.

“Hey, are you coward or what? I have never seen a boy who would afraid of plunging into girls hostel. If I would have snapped a finger now at the compound wall, there would be hundreds of boys queuing behind my room immediately, but you…” Reshmi said and fought hard to control her giggles.

“Why should I come there now?” Gautam said. He scratched his back of the head. She knew he was somewhat a lethargic fellow, but she hadn’t imagined he was such a bewailing fellow too. A moment she thought of banging her phone on his head, but fortunately he was in a safe distance.

“My poor idiot…my stupid fellow…my cretin….my buffoon….because I am going to turn 23 at 12 o’clock,” she said and wondered if he had got her point now.

Gautam’s brain was suddenly lit brightly. The tantalizing impression to see and wish her had spun his head. Suddenly a ray of hope had blossomed in his heart to go and wish her inside the hostel. The way she had called him now was new and refreshing. He couldn’t hide his joy to go and see her.

“Oh, is it? yeah, I will jump and come….jump over you….sorry….jump over the security guard…” he scratched his head and plucked off a few hairs with his hand, “I will jump over the fence and I will meet you inside the hostel,” he said and gasped, holding his hand on his chest.

“Hey, are you all right?” Reshmi teased, “I don’t think you will be coming here, if you lose your mind like this. Be careful while you jumping off the fence. The security guard is a very strong and cunning fellow. He will never sleep in the night. If you were caught, don’t ring my name, stupid,” she said scornfully, but smiled immediately.

“I will take care,” Gautam said and disconnected the call. He sprang up with full of masculine energy as if he was going to fight with Mr. World champion. He scurried into the toilet and splashed cold water on his face and wiped with the towel. He then applied fair and handsome cream (this is Kamesh’s asset, if he had known about this theft, we could expect another exit from this room very soon) and applied fog perfume on his head and shoulders and slipped into wrinkled blue T-shirt and unwashed baggy trousers. Actually he had planned to wash the clothes tomorrow but he had no other option than to wear these unwashed clothes kept in the net container. Worst, it’s been a month since Kamesh had bent his knees to wash his clothes, his socks were smelled of rotten rats, still he had preferred the same for the interviews and hoped it might seduce them to give him a job offer. Can you believe it?

At 11.50 he was there behind the gate of the hostel in Jaya Nagar, 5th block. The security was mopping on his handle bar whiskers with his right hand as he kept his vigilant eyes on the hostel fence. Normally, the security guards would sit in a chair and read newspaper or hear old music director’s songs in the FM, right? But this guard had never flicked his eyelids to close it for a second, and his face was always morose and sturdy, as he gazed at every nook and corner of the fence. Gautam didn’t know what to do and waited outside impatiently for this guard to snooze out. Oh, boy do something now, otherwise you have to snooze under the moon. He whammed his brain for some ideas, but nothing had come from it. Don’t worry, it was expected from guys like you. He walked up and down in front of the hostel sidewalk briskly. The street was violently calm, even the dog didn’t stir under the peepal tree trunk, but cold air was harshly roaming around. You could hardly see anyone there walking down on the street, the vehicles ferrying people to and fro were almost stalled. If you drop a hairpin there, you could hear the echo back. Gautam’s looked at his fake gold watch and pressed his mouth in a ghostly way, the time was ticking very fast. There were numerous thoughts clamored in his mind, but he couldn’t find anything reasonable to execute it now. His ideas were like this. First he thought of flying from where he stood like a superman. Second, he thought of knocking on the gate and when the security guard peered out, he would punch him flat on the floor. Next, he thought of calling to Reshmi and say that he wouldn’t able to climb over the hostel and going back to his room to have a nice sleep. But finally, he was aghast of thinking stupidly, and her final words were somersaulting in his brain again and again to prove his potential on climbing up the hostel and say birthday wishes in her ear.

Oh, goodness finally Reshmi had come to the parapet of the first floor in the hostel, and signaled at him. Gautam didn’t notice her. She had got the gravel from the flower pot and threw it on him, it had hit on his head and he jerked back and looked in the street to know who was the person had attacked him. No one was there. He was confused and perplexed. He looked up on the sky and saw if something hurtled from there. A faint sound hissed and fell on his ears. He turned around and finally his gaze shifted up where Reshmi was standing on the first floor. His face was brightened up magically. But you could see all the horror and shock in Reshmi’s face. Her biggest worry was if he was going to make her get out of the hostel on this pursuit of climbing.

She punched her fingers on the mobile and made a call to him, “Hey genius what are you doing there, eh?” Reshmi said in a defiant voice.

“Huh, I am thinking on how to get inside?” Gautam said genuinely, but confusion streaked on his face.

“C’mon, you can’t enter inside the hostel for whole night if you go bouncing up and down on the sidewalk. Do something to come up da,” Reshmi said, quite annoyed by his lack of valor to dug inside. But she wasn’t disappointed either because she knew of his original (or feeble) capability.

“Hey, did you see the whiskered security guard keeping an eagle eye on the fence. I am really afraid to do anything Reshmi,” Gautam said, his fingers and legs already shivering to embrace this incumbent danger. The agony of his imagination was too bad to conceive. He thought if he was caught, then the security guard was going to rip off his shirt in front of the hostel girls and beat him in between his legs with a strong cane which was kept safely on the desk. He also imagined the night patrol would pump him into the jeep and newspapers come with flashy news with his scrummy photo. His fear was genuine because there were thousands of youngsters still caught under such trap and was beaten to death sometimes.

“You damn, don’t you take even this small risk to pursue your girlfriend?” Reshmi said. That was the sedating word to enrapture the vintage boys, right? In fact, it was high dosage for a low confident boy like Gautam, in this matter. He felt suddenly charged up with huge voltage which was pumping on his fists.

“Hah, I will definitely take a risk Reshmi. You tell me what I should do,” Gautam said, looking up at her, while speaking over the phone. His shoulders were jiggling fiercely, as he caught her sight. She was looking beautiful in her small skirt which had revealed her smooth bare legs. Her white T-shirt was looking tight, as her tender and perky breasts were pushing forward. Her hair was flowing down her waist as sudden gust of wind whipped her. Her face was just as fresh as the moon above in the sky.

Reshmi tacked her head and tried to shed a light in him, “Did you see the narrow space in between my hostel and other building. You just pass through this space slowly, there you would find grown up bushes and sometimes you find dogs and snakes too. But you have no other choice but have to take risk. And the fence this side would be little lower than in the front side, so you have a great chance to climb the concrete slab above the window and to jump into the first floor. Have you got my point?” she was flaunting with her ideas. But, a turbulent shiver went down Gautam’s spine as he heard this troublesome and hideous adventure. He had already swallowed lump down his parched throat twice. He didn’t have any insurance to take a treatment too if he was bitten by dog and hooked by snakes. C’mon Gautam, prove that you are a risk taker to climb on your girlfriend, he thought himself.

“Oh, my legs were already shivering on hearing your idea. Are you telling me the truth? Seriously snakes are too?” he said and looked into the narrow space. It was really looking dark like hell. His footsteps retracted naturally on seeing its imminent danger.

“Don’t you even take such a small risk to wish me for my birthday? If you don’t do this for me, then it is proof that you aren’t concerned about me,” Reshmi said and shrugged, she turned her back to him from where she stood up behind the parapet.

Gautam’s heart was bellowed a mighty scream at him to plunge into this action to prove his caliber and potent. His cheeks twitched as he responded to her in a masculine voice, “I will take any dangers for the sake of seeing you. You wait and watch I will be there on top of you…sorry on top of the floor to say birthday wishes to you,” he said and pushed his mobile into his shirt packet. He folded the hem of his baggy trousers as if he wanted to battle with the opposing country, and looked at the security guard who was now resting in the chair as lighted a cigar and smoking it out. Gautam put his right feet at the mouth of this narrow space and pressed it down, the heavy growth of bush was sunk under his feet now, he pushed his body gently and steered inward in that crummy space. His breath was faltering and smothered, there was a whooping fear running down in his mind, as he stomped with one more feet, there was not a hint of light passed through this narrow path. Upon each feet, there was a rustling sound seeped out and he clenched his chest with a draconic fear as if he had pressed his foot on the snake or rat. The highly grown up weeds were brushed his cheeks with a welcoming note, it made him shudder as if someone had caught him from the back. Not to say, it was one of the daunting task he had done so far in his life. When he thought he had come to the destination to climb up the slab above the window, he had stomped on the cat and it had mewled…mewled…mewled….It looked like he had crushed it’s stomach or something, the barking pain shoot up from this cat. He stood dead that moment. He didn’t know what to do. His knees were shivering like an old woman with his hands held up and numbing. His eye balls were stalled and not stirring in the sockets. His breath was choked up in the middle of his nose, as if suddenly the place was shortage of the air.

“C’mon, get up Gautam, quick, the security have noticed the squeal of the cat,” Reshmi said and hooting from the end of the corridor, looking down at him with her anxious eyes.

There was no response from him. She wondered if he was dead with a thumping shock. Her fear was furious now, racing in her heart like a horse. She didn’t know what to do but stayed wriggling her fingers and gasping for air. Her eyes often sprinted towards the security room, where this whiskered fellow stirred up right now on hearing the cat’s screaming mewl. He immediately stood up from his chair and ambled along the fence (inside) to see why this cat was screaming so badly in this dark night. His curiosity to know the reason was spiked in his mind. He suddenly stopped. He realized the noise was coming from that narrow alley, so he retracted his steps and went back to the main gate and opened it with a rough squeak. Now, witnessing this tragedy, Reshmi was dumbfound and didn’t know what to do. The guard was hurrying down to hunt the burglar, so her heart was in her hand now. She swallowed a thick lump down her throat and closed her eyes for a moment. Something had flicked in her brain, and she immediately clutched big gravel from the flower pot and hurtled in on Gautam’s skull. It missed a target and she had rummaged to pick another big one this time. Not a big boulder though. Gautam you are safe man, don’t worry. She threw now straight on his center of the skull, she aimed perfectly this time by closing her left eye and whammed it with great cursing energy. Bang. He opened his eyes now and wanted to know where he was. His mind was working slowly like a lethargic government employees. Then he looked above, Reshmi was already beckoning her hand to pull him up, as curled her fingers to make him hurry to climb the slab.

“You fool. Rush in da. The guard is on back of your butt….come in fast,” Reshmi was telling and hurtling each word with violent screaming force. But she was cautious that her voice won’t infect the guard.

The security guard jogged down along the sidewalk and he was a couple of feet close to the mouth of the narrow alley. This fellow was in a hurry and didn’t notice Reshmi was doing all the heroics to save her hero (or whatever way you might want to call him). The petrified, numbed, shitty Gautam was thriving with sluggish energy when he tried to climb up the fence. The cat had already vacated from that place to nurse her wounds. His first try to climb the fence was a grouchy failure and he dunked down. He finally climbed up the fence like a frog bouncing up from the water. He then let heaved up his hands to grab the slab which was thick and hard, his fingers couldn’t clasp it tightly. A moment he thought he was going to lose this grip and fall straight into the well. Yes, an old well was there, in the front yard. His left hand was having no grip at all. All his body was resting with his right hand. It was something like magic he stood on the slab and suddenly dunked low when he had seen the guard had cocked his head up. The guard failed to get a glimpse of him since there was no faint of light lurked in. The cat’s hooting had died too, so he reversed back with a pricked heart. Gautam had gasped finally and slowly he stood up and climbed into the first floor with the help of Reshmi, who gave her magnanimous hands to drag him inside.

“Oh goodness. You have almost killed me when you have made that cat to scream,” Reshmi said, cupping her both hands over her forehead. The last thrilling moments still wasn’t completely evaded her. It was something like she had gone inside the jewelry shop in the midnight as a thief to loot the diamond necklace.

“I thought I was dead you know, anyway,” Gautam said and smiled. Beads of perspiration were clinging above his eyebrows. He twirled his head left and right and saw a rose in the flower pot and plucked it off and handed it to her, “Wish you a happy birthday my dear.”

The big wall clock in the center of the city had bonged twelve times. She received it from him with a full of jostling smile and beat his head with that rose, as she grabbed his hand and pulled him inside her room. There were five more rooms in the same corridor, but no one was outside. She closed the door and locked it with a bolt.

“You proved me you are a brave fellow Gautam,” she said, as she sat on her bed. He stood in front of her, blushing, because it was the first time he was inside a room with a girl alone. His testosterones were bouncing in joy as he looked into her soft gorgeous face. She was damn beautiful to pin her to bed and fell over her.

“So, what is this all about? What is your gift for me on taking this risk,” he asked, as his tongue passed over roof of his mouth. He was smiling through his eyes now.

“Yeah, of course. A brave fellow like you, I have to give something. First let me tell you that I got selected to act in the advertisement,” she said.

“Really? But how did you get this chance?” he said. He knew that she was rejected in the audition dance recently. She was really so upset and obsessed with her lose that time. He had to console her vehemently during their return journey back to Bangalore. He wondered if she had gone back to Chennai to take some other audition. The question really had haunted him.

“You know about the debacle in Chennai, right? I was really feeling very bad that time, you know. On Thursday I got a call from Chennai and I was stunned when they said I had passed the screening test to act in an advertisement for one of the leading brand,” she said with her mirthful eyes.

“That’s good to hear. But you are interested in dancing, then how did you okayed this chance?” Gautam wanted to screw up her bit, though he felt happier.

“Actually I was disappointed. But do you know how I received this chance. When I had given the audition dance, a junior judge was impressed with my performance, though the other fellows had shown grumpy responses. He had sent that video footage to one of his friend, who was a co-creator of the leading brand and he was immediately wanted me to act in their brand advertisement,” she said.

“Wow, that’s really cool, you know. Do you think it will help you achieve your dream,” Gautam said.

She tipped her head on other side, and puckered her lips, “I believe it will help me. Anyway, are you going to talk with me like this forever? Today is my birthday…,” she said and elevated up her shoulders, as her beautiful collarbones and hallows were revealed and it was great to watch.

Gautam looked her wholly for the first time now. He had seen her soft and gleaming white legs in her short skirt. Not to tell her breasts were upright and flinging inside her top. He doubted if she wore a bra. He felt like wanted to stroke it with his hands. He then smacked his mind for thinking like that.

“No, what should we do then?” Gautam asked.

“First up all where is my present?” Reshmi demanded, extended her hand and curled her fingers in front of him.

Gautam blinked for a second and said, “I didn’t know today is your birthday, I just rushed here…when you called me to come and meet you.”

“We are making friendship for almost three months now, but still you never thought of asking me about my birthday, eh. What fellow you are…You are a humbug,” she scolded him. Her loose top slid down on her left side, letting exposed her lower neck and top of her bosom, which was whiter than her face.

Gautam nodded her with a corner of his right eye and mourned. His mouth dribbled down water when he had seen her in a screaming hot. He was now in no mood to answer her taunting questions. He wanted to look at her glory for at least half-an hour without disturbance. He had never thought a girl would be looking so beautiful in her low skirt and top like this, no wonder Reshmi was looking fabulous and gorgeous in this trendy wear.

“I’m sorry Reshmi. It had never occurred me to ask that. You know, I was busy in preparing for interviews and all. So I just lost my sense on collecting those details from you,” Gautam muffled with his lethargic words.

She flicked her left eyebrow up as to shoot him with it and sighed as patted her bed and motioned him to sit on it, “c’mon hero. Have a seat. Can you do that for me now,” she said.

Gautam crawled slowly and climbed up the bed. His heart was racing tremendously now. Blood was rushing to his arms and legs as he sat near to her. He had never imagined he would be so close to her like this. Her breath was on his face, as lifted up his few tendrils of hair. He felt like her breathing had some unique and pleasant smell. It smelled like rosewood. He just wanted to hold her breath in a box and keep inhaling it. Her skirt was slid up as her upper thighs were gleaming milky white now.

“I don’t know why I like you so much, idiot,” Reshmi said, and pulled his hair in her hands and smiled, “But you are always felt close to my heart from the moment I had seen you in the forum mall. I never thought I would love you so much to allow you to travel along with me for close to five hundred kilometers up and down. I had always asked a question how I chose you to love, but there was no valid response. I had failed numerous times on pondering over that question. God knows why I liked you this much,” she said as showed her widened hands to signify it. She then pulled his cheeks and brought him to her chest. He rested his head over her bosom and his breath was almost halted when she did this casually. He didn’t know what to do.

“Do you think I am ugly and a useless fellow?” Gautam had something to ask her. His eyes were almost moistened when he had asked her this question. Though he was happy that she had all the heart to love him, still there was a guiltiness lurking behind his soul for snatching such a beautiful girl. He still couldn’t believe that she had proposed him in a simple and adorable manner. He doubted if she was all right to speak like that and wondered if she had drunk beer or wine or something. He looked around the room, no, she was all right. There was no sight of any booze bottles hidden in the room. The room was filled with dresses and books and nothing more.

“Are you nuts? I am telling you from the bottom of my heart Gautam. How can I think like that when I am in love with you so fervently?” Reshmi said, and folded her hands over her bosom and whisked her head away from looking at him.

Gautam’s heart leapt forward on hearing her, and suddenly found himself in a terrible state to convince her now. He was in a snarl of girl’s tantric, he was trapped, and he wanted to learn slowly how to deal with girls when he caught under their eerie spell. Damn, do something to make her happy now. He crawled on the bed and stepped in very close to her now, he stretched his hand on her small chin and pulled her face to look at him. The miscellaneous vengeance was still lurking under her eyes as she casted at him, but she had been waiting for him to embrace her. You could see her face was blushing and turning red and purplish, her bosom was tickling and growing bigger inside her top.

“I love you Reshmi,” Gautam had finally gathered so much courage to tell his emotion without a flaw. Slowly his manliness was picking up. You could see from his body language, but still the fear of courting a girl hadn’t left him easier. He grabbed her shoulders and pressed his hand on her tender breasts. She immediately closed her eyes in a jerk as if thousands of amperes of current went past her spine. Gautam was heaving up with boundless energy as he pushed her into the bed. He buried his face down her neck, as Reshmi wrapped her hands around his waist and wriggling it tightly. He squeezed her breasts gently as he looked in her sparkling eyes. He then kissed her plump lips passionately for a long time. She had to withdraw finally to take a breath.

“Wait a second my hero,” Reshi said, as pulled off her top, leaving her bare and bright torso.

“Don’t you?” she glared at him, as he unbuttoned his shirt and threw it aside.

“Now you make all the love you want,” Reshmi said as twinkled her eyes.

Gautam’s had licked the coffee brown stems of her nibbles with his tongue, it was stiffened suddenly. You could make contours with it. It looked so aligned and upright. Reshmi clenched the bed with her fingers and pressed her head hard on the white pillow. He then slid down her skirt and rubbed gently his fingers in between her legs. He was swinging with uproarious energy and wanted to enter into her. Her thighs were jiggling when he had nudged with his hands. She bit her lips when he had cocked inside her, she moaned slowly, and his each stroke made her moan stronger and stronger. Both had entered the heavenly state for a brief period of time, before he let down his vigorous striking on her. She smiled at him when he had finished and cuddled him tightly.

“Oh dear, this is the first time for me, I feel so happy,” Gautam said as ran his fingers on her hair. They both were naked but covered with a blanket.

She gave a searing look and said, “Do you mean I had done so many times, you humbug?”

He giggled and said, “No, not like that. I couldn’t believe what I have done now. I thought you are always enchanting and far from my reach. But sharing a bed with you, I don’t still believe it,” he shook his head as his eyes glistened.

“C’mon Gautam. You are a kid, you know. To attract a beautiful girl, you need a good heart. That’s all. You had it and you earned me. In fact, most of the girls follow that rule. But some of the girls were looking for good showy people who are trendy and polished and well earned. But personally I don’t think that is love, it’s just a crush. You are my boy, who is so special for me. Why are you crying like a baby?” she said as kissed on his cheek.

Gautam felt relieved on hearing her warm response. He had other questions which was haunting him for long days, “Do you love me still I didn’t get a job in the coming months?” This was, perhaps, most important question for him. His enticing relationship with her was depending on it. He was anxious and excited to hear her answer.

“You are a stupid Gautam. Really a stupid,” she shook her head and punched her both hands lightly on his chest, “how do you think I am a cheater, eh? I am not a witch to sleep with you now and ran away with other one. C’mon at least learn my character fully,” she said and picked her top from the bed and slid into it.

Gautam’s face was beamed with relentless joy when she had given him a thriving answer for him. He completely believed her and his worries were busted off in her swift glance, “So when shall we meet again?” he grinned at her.

She gave an indignant look and rolled him off the bed. His buttocks ached as he stood up, “That’s what you boys wanted to do all the time. Here is the deal. If you get a job, then only you can touch me from now onwards.”

“Huh, that’s really a tough challenge,” he gnawed at her, as buttoned his shirt.

Reshmi put her both hands on her hips and cocked her head on left side, “You better go from here now. I think you would try sleep here whole night. That’s not possible,” she walked close to him and pushed him to the door. He gave some resistance and slowed down. She opened the door knob and yanked the door. Gautam reluctantly stood in front of her and tried to kiss her but she pushed her fingers in between and kicked him out.

*

Chapter 11: Cacophony

“YOU ARE SELECTED,” THE HR beamed at Kamesh, who was thrilled and ecstatic on hearing such grand news for the first time in his life. But wait, it was not a software job as you might think. He was selected in the FitzuKom BPO company. He was left with no choice but to grab this job finally. He had no money to have food also, in fact he had fasted last fifteen days (skipped breakfast and supper only) to resolve this crisis. You know what, yes, Madhan’s father had stopped sending money after he had visited last time.

“Thank you sir,” Kamesh said and tears were gleaming in his eyes, as he looked up at the HR. He wanted to fell on his feet and receive his blessings, for believing in his guts. The only question the HR anticipated to ask him now was, why his beard and hair was mushroomed in his face. The fascinating thing was that the HR was once upon a time had struggled like him and had grown his hair like girls, and finally landed up in BPO. Kamesh had told the full story with his weak voice, as the HR manager’s heart was cried on hearing it and immediately signed on the offer letter to allot a job for him. Guess what was the salary? Six thousand rupees, including perks and PF.

The HR patted on his shoulders and asked him to celebrate the party for earning such a mighty job in the company. Kamesh had wiped his cheeks (which had some salt water stains) and thanked him once again and rushed back to his room with a McDowell’s rum bottle in his hand.

He hurtled his slippers behind the shoe rack, as he banged on the door. Madhan had opened the door reluctantly and he didn’t even look at his face, because he knew that was Kamesh from the banging.

“Hey man, see here,” Kamesh blared in front of Madhan. He threw the offer letter on his face as if he had received a job offer from Apple Inc.

“What the fucking thing it is?” Madhan said, he was irritated when the bunch of paper had hit on his face. The one thing he would never believe in his life was that Kamesh had received a job offer. Definitely it was going to be a huge surprise for him. Madhan had slowly collected the paper and flipped the pages and it slowly dawned on him that it was an offer letter. Suddenly his face became worried and it turned pale and blank.

“I have received a job man, you know. No one can blame me now onwards because I am a corporate guy,” Kamesh was jostling, as he lifted up the rum bottle and shook it in front of his eyes like a bait to catch a fish.

Gautam was startled when he had heard this clamorous talk from Kamesh. He was preparing barley in the kitchen. You know, there was shortage of rations, and they hadn’t purchased any grocery items for last one month. The barley was the cheapest item they had brought it for a low price from the neighborhood aunty.

“I think finally time has come to see your ugly face once again. I mean you shave off your head and beard, right?” Madhan said, screwing up him.

“Stop wincing at me. Look at the offer man, I think our troubles will vanish from here on,” Kamesh said, as he stroked his beard with splendor as if he had achieved a noble prize.

“What is this offer about? Have you got placed in a scrummy software company or what? Which company was dared to offer you, man?” Madhan said, still he couldn’t believe if Kamesh was telling the truth or babbling because he had boozed out.

“I got placed in a BPO company, man,” Kamesh said, pumping his chest with overflowing pride.

Madhan took a relaxed and cool breath now, “I thought you got placed in a software company. Thank God. A moment my heart jumped out of my chest you know.”

“You bastard. Do you think I don’t have basic intelligence to enter into a software company?” Kamesh said, he was pissed off with Madhan’s teasing question.

“Hah, should I say about it? Don’t you know after your flattering defeat with the twenty five software companies? Hmm, that’s impossible man. It’s better you got some rickety job now. Otherwise it is intolerable for us to see your hair grow like sanyasis,” Madhan sniggered.

“Madhan, you stop pricking me with your thorn of comments. I thought we are going to enjoy this night with this drink. But you….” Kamesh said and sulked his face.

Madhan had never seen such a self-defeated face of Kamesh before. Looks like this fatso was breaking into tears fit. Oh, that was impossible to see. There is a possibility your heart might bust out. Madhan knowing this impending calamity, he propped his both hands on his shoulders and prodded him beatifically.

“C’mon fatso. Don’t take it serious. I just screamed out of goodness because you couldn’t able to grab a software job. In fact, that’s what our aim is until now,” Madhan said, letting him to sit down on the straw mat. You should have seen Kamesh now. The bubbly face was crinkled and all the innocence in the world was appeared in his big eyes. Once long back, when he was doing his sixth grade, his mother had gone out to gossip with some neighborhood family. She had promised him that she would return home at 7.30 pm sharp to serve him dinner and asked him to study about the punctuality chapter in English book. But, her gossip went on and on…Kamesh was infuriated when the time had passed 7.30 pm, the worst thing was the door was locked outside, he howled at his mother as he knocked on the door with his hands and legs and chest. In fact, his fingers were bled a few drops of red blood. He then enunciated a morose face and sat in the corner of his bed room. When his mother had returned at 9.30 pm, she was shocked because he hadn’t spoken to her and his morose face had never evaded for a week from then onwards. He still looks the same, but eventually he had grown up bigger now.

Gautam came with nervous feet and looked at them perplexed.

“What happened?”

“Don’t you know? The time has come for our fatso to unveil his beautiful face,” Madhan said and chuckled.

“You better stop insulting man. Don’t you know how much hard work I have put to grab this offer,” Kamesh said, without guilty heart. If the HR hadn’t had compassionate brain, would he have earned this offer? God knows the answer.

“C’mon darling. Take it easy. Why are you whining like a little fellow? See we both are still jobless. But you….” Madhan said as he wrapped his hand around Gautam’s shoulder and slightly lifted him up.

“Then what else should I do? You fuckers are insulting me for earning such a meager job,” Kamesh said, almost sneezing out. Madhan was looking for a handkerchief now, unfortunately he hadn’t one with him. In fact, he had put it in a bucket with soaked surf water, to wash his clothes. At least he had decided to wash the clothes after forty five days of grace period. The stinking smell in the room was dropped suddenly low like the air pollution in the Delhi had been reduced with some safety measures.

Madhan crawled at his feet and sat down close to Kamesh and ran his fingers over his bushy beard and said, “You are a baby, man. I think your mother should be here to feed your milk. Anyway, look at me,” Kamesh glared at him, “Who said that is a meager job. You need guts to work in a BPO man. You have to move around in shifts seamlessly to get your work done. You have to deal with one of the top nation’s citizens in US and UK and Canada. I think personally, that is an attractive job to hold on,” he crooned after him.

Kamesh’s face was lit finally. He grabbed the rum bottle and presented it to Madhan as if it was a Kohinoor diamond, “You are my true friend,” he cuddled Madhan. Gautam nodded with vain heart and he pulled him down too and three of them embraced each other. This needs to be portrayed because you could never see such a miracle for the second time.

“It would have been great if Lawrence too in our room, isn’t?” Gautam said, out of sympathy and compassion. Suddenly Kamesh face was twisted and liters of vehemence poured into his wrenching heart.

“You stop backing him. He is a son of bitch to smash my phone into pieces. My blood was heating up when I think of that incident,” Kamesh said, his eyes were flaring like hot flames.

“Hey, still he is our friend, no,” Gautam said with his sympathy stroking face.

“Idiot,” Kamesh whacked his head with his fat hand, “you stop talking about him now, otherwise you have to get out this room. I am getting into a bad mood,” There was no wonder Gautam had to shut his ass. He knew he had to depend on Kamesh in the coming days, because he was going to earn the money. Also, the incident (the fighting sequel of fatso and Lawri) flashed into his brain and it made him shiver like anything. The arrogant faces and fistful hands…he was almost fainted at the thought.

“So, what is the salary man?” Madhan was curious to know and also he wanted to bring some cheerfulness on Kamesh’s sullen face. He was sure Kamesh was going to take the financial burden from now onwards.

“Six thousand rupees man as a trainee. Next year, it will be seven thousand you know,” Kamesh said, his face was smeared with blooming of smiles.

Madhan’s heart pulse dropped suddenly, “Bah, it is far below the salary for the engineers, isn’t?” he said, almost shocked and panicked.

Gautam bought the grey syrupy barley in a big bowl by gripping at the rim with the charcoal black waste cloth. He placed it before them.

“What to do then? How do we manage? See already we are starving to death, you know,” Kamesh said, pointing at the bowl. The cry had halted half-way in his throat. His eyes scrunched to shed tears but he forced it back.

“I don’t know what to say. Your sacrifice is worth million dollars, man. You have opened our eyes on how to live a life,” Madhan said. He then hissed something on Kamesh ear, and he in turn went aghast and growled at Gautam. Could you guess what he had hissed on his ear? Yes, Madhan had registered a complaint against Gautam for loving Reshmi.

“Gautam, bring the plastic glasses and let the party begin,” Kamesh boomed. Gautam was frightened by his thunderous command over him, and he scurried like a domestic cook inside the kitchen and got a few plastic glasses kept on the steel vessel rack which was nailed behind the sink.

“So, what’s going on man,” Kamesh said, he patted Gautam’s back when he bent to his knees to place the glasses on the floor.

Gautam was startled with the question, and he knew there was something harmful was coming on him now. He had guessed that from Madhan’s hissing, but he couldn’t contrive anything out of it. After a few seconds, his mind had scowled at him saying that they were going to bring the topic about Reshmi, since a couple of day’s back Madhan had fought with him for her. The thought had suddenly rushed back into his mind like a shelled out bomb and exploded in wild ferocity.

“Hmm,” Gautam breathed heavily, he didn’t know how he was going to deal with him now, “It’s going pretty bad, since I had lost the technical interview with the Armstech soft on last Wednesday. They had asked a lot of questions from linked lists which I hadn’t prepared well, you know,” he said. He definitely knew that this answer was going to prick them like hell. But still he had no other option than to give an awkward answer.

“Buffoon, we aren’t asking about that? Tell me about your personal life. I heard about that chic…hah…what’s her name….” Kamesh blinked for a few seconds. Madhan had assisted him to rack his brain and to snatch the details, “Hmm, Reshmi. That good looking and gorgeous high tech girl, whom we met in Sine&Cos Soft Inc interview, no?”

Gautam had stopped from pouring the rum into one of the glasses. He was the amicable servant when it comes to serving the drinks with his ignoble heart. He peered into Kamesh’s eyes and was suddenly reluctant and petrified to stay there. He thought to flee away from his grasp, to avoid the imminent danger sprouting up. He knew that if the drink once got settled into the fatso’s stomach, he would start ripping at him badly. A thick lump had already formed under his throat now, as he swallowed in a hurry.

“She is good, she had celebrated birthday on last Friday. She asked every one of you,” Gautam said with a ludicrous pride, though stifling fear was slowly building up in him.

“See, how easily he is trying to escape from you? He broke my heart when he had exchanged some puny chat with her in Whats’ app. You were sleeping that night when he was prancing with her,” Madhan crooned, as gurgled down the drink and looked with his glistened eyes at Kamesh, “You know how passionately I loved her, isn’t?” He complained about him like a child whimper for an ice cream. Yes, Madhan had told him a month back that he was aspiring to date a girl like Reshmi. But Kamesh knew from his crooning voice that he had partitioned his heart for her.

“You stay calm man. Don’t break down. Have courage to deal this sensitive subject,” Kamesh said, as wiped the dribbles on his chin with his fat fingers. Yes, Madhan had shed tears too.

“No, there was nothing I am hiding from you. I didn’t even know that day was her birthday until she had called me that night. I am just a good friend to her,” Gautam said. He was half right and half wrong. Could you think he should share each and every bit of information with his friends? Also if he would have told Madhan that he had a sex with her, his heart would have start bleeding that moment. He was, in fact, frightened about it. You know how Madhan was reacted when he had first seen her cheeky messages that midnight, right?

“No, you damn it. Don’t lie,” Madhan was frantic when he had confronted him, “show those messages that pretty queen had sent to you. Didn’t she send you that cuddling and mouth dribbling messages to you?” He then looked at Kamesh to do justice for this heinous act.

Kamesh had knocked at Gautam with his fiery eyes and shook his hand to get a counterattacking response from him, “Yes she did. She loves me and she had confessed it on her birthday. That’s why she had called me to meet her in that midnight, is that enough for you guys?” Gautam was blowing hot now. He didn’t want to hang up with this topic in sour and bleary eyed. There was nothing he was going to lose by confessing it to them, but the real fact was Madhan would fell into depression on hearing this. Yes, he was, his heart was that feeble, you know. Already his lips started quivering if you wanted to know. He plonked the plastic glass on the floor as it was littered with an American map. He suddenly tried to haul himself up, but the great fatso had made him sit down to console him. He knew he was a weak hearted person, and this might prompt him to get into suicide. That was the fatso’s primary concern as of now.

“I can’t believe this crap. How can she love a jobless fellow like you? You are not even looking good than me. Is she blind or what?” Kamesh was roiling with anger. He couldn’t digest the fact that Reshmi, a dazzling queen was in love a thin and crummy fellow. The rum which he had drunk now was refused to make him booze. In fact, his brain became alert and he was looking somber now, despite the gallons of drink he had swallowed before.

“I don’t know. She said that girls never go by looks but heart. You know one thing, even I was surprised when she proposed to me. In fact out of curiosity, I asked the same question to her,” Gautam said, without an inch of pride.

“That’s crazy man. I am wondering if these kinds of girls still exist in the world. She wants to be a dancer, isn’t?” Kamesh said.

“Hah, she attended a couple of auditions and now she had received a chance to act in the advertisement,” Gautam said, in a low voice. Their faces become gloomy now.

“This is strange, isn’t? Why did she want to act in advisement when she had such a creative talent in dancing,” Kamesh asked. He had some concern for her after he had witnessed such a glorifying dance performance of her in the forum mall. That memory still hadn’t evaded his mind until now. He had never imagined she would be an engineer, but when she had confirmed, he had to believe. Her beautiful legs and arms are really meant to be a dancer to adore the fans who would die to get a glimpse of her feet movements. There was no second thought on this, he knew very well.

“Of course, but she felt there would be a chance to reach a wider range of audience through television. In fact, she has to dance in this add for a few seconds,” Gautam had confessed.

Kamesh had lifted up his left eyebrow and said, “That looks like, she is going to be a great phenomenon in the coming days. You are really lucky to have that girl man. But what are you going to do for retaining her in your fold?”

“Tch…I don’t know what I am going to do. This is getting very tough to get an opening here. I am thinking of doing some course,” Gautam said. He had attended eighteen interviews so far, but he had cleared two written tests and had failed in two technical rounds. Your English should be improved because it is imperative to communicate with our clients, the technical panel had told him while they rejected him. He had to get a job in three more months, otherwise next batch of students will be competing with them, and it would make the job hunting still worse for them. He was faintly aware of the fact and wanted to find some way to climb the job. That wasn’t going to be an easiest thing to compete with the lakhs of people streaming down into this silicon city from all the states.

“Yeah, I too thinking of that man. But I don’t know what course to study and where to join. Also I am not sure if my father is going to spend on this,” Madhan said, he had to face the real facts of life now. The early bird nesting period was getting over now. After two months he was going to be rejected everywhere citing that he had lost the chance to claim as a good student on pursuing the job. The real testing of life would be coming soon. He had to pour out his heart and mind and soul to lead his life in a steady way.

“Hah, my friend had called me and told me that fourth year students in his college were already getting offer letters from leading MNCs. That meant, they had stopped screening with our batch students,” Kamesh said. There was a deadly silence ensued in the room. It was like a nuclear bomb had wrecked this place now.

“Is it?” Madhan’s eyes had grown in the size of balls.

“Yes man. You guys should intensify the job hunting. If you don’t get placed in two months, that’s it, you are out of the game. Then, you both don’t even get the jobs in BPO,” Kamesh declared it like the prime minister had banned the thousand and five hundred rupees over the night.

“I will tell my father about this,” Gautam said in a somber voice, but panicking.

“Do you think your parents would agree to do the course?” Kamesh asked Gautam.

“I don’t know. My parents wanted to see me and they might come next week. I have to give a report card about what’s going on here.” Gautam said. The anxiety and fear of failure were shown in his eyes. He ducked his head because he was already feeling afraid of meeting his father. He knew for sure that his father was going to rip off him for not earning a job until now.

“Is it? You didn’t tell me before,” Madhan squirmed his face. That meant they had to clean the room once again and wash their dirty socks and reeking clothes. That was a herculean task for them to do.

“It’s surprise for me too when my mother told me on yesterday,” Gautam shrugged his eyes.

*

“There is client call today, oh God what should I report to them,” Koki said, she was as usual in her extreme mood as she clasped and unclasped her fingers. Her big eyes were already cramping and delirious as she began kindling the anxious environment with her team.

Reshmi was biting the tip of her nail and flipped a sad face at her, “I don’t know what to update. I haven’t completed developing this Bubble protocol software yet, I am going crazy with this,” Reshmi said. She had breathed heavily as she said this to her, the fear of responding to them was monstrous thing for her. They always shelled out difficult and cumbersome questions in the world at her. Last time when she had attended the meeting, her face was drenched in sweat because the questions were kept banging on her brain continuously. She was stuttered to answer an each question. Is it easier to answer when you are not in a position to preparing them? The worst thing was, if you tell them I didn’t know why the software responding, they would kept digging at your soul why it wasn’t working. You can’t even close and open your eyes. The last meeting was still echoing in her mind like the cricket was chirping in the dark bushes. The mere thought of this, had brought tons of tons of fear to her soul to confront them with her shoddy knowledge in this software field.

“This f…g LCD is not bit shaking up with me. Always giving trouble for me. What else should I do with it? I have tried every software configuration possible in this world. But this stupid thing is not hearing me at all,” Koki cursed it with a sullen heart as if it was human. If the device would have senses about what other’s talking, it would have strangled its neck by itself. That’s true, because Koki had cursed it so many times daily, at least fifty times per day. Bullshit, mugshot, cretin, buffoon, humbug, idiot… …. …. You fill in the blanks whatever you might think she would have cursed, because she hadn’t left anything unused. Not only with a single brash words, but she had fought with miles long tedious sentences too. But don’t you think she feel so dejected because of this single piece of device. C’mon human is worth trillion times more than a dead device. Agree?

“Same story here. Oh God, I don’t know how to write this damn protocol. I have read every bit of shit from this computer, but still I couldn’t bring the idea to code it,” Reshmi said, biting her lower lip and closed her dark kohl eyes for a few seconds. She knew her team lead Lohit was going to bark at her. On the last client meeting call she had promised Martin (the client from Boversfly Inc.) to be able to communicate between the two processors boards through Bubble protocol which was in-house communication method they had developed. It took decades for her to understand the protocol and why it had been named as Bubble. She had asked the secret behind the naming of this protocol with Lohit, who told her that the data in the processor would start swelling before it had transported into other processor. He had grinded his filthy teeth and squeezed his neck pad with his both hands when he had responded this way, she still couldn’t take that response for granted, because she thought he was fuming at her. Not to mention it was nightmare for her to deal with this fellow in a couple of minutes to update the status of the project. The worst thing was, that she didn’t know in what mood this grumpy fellow into, that was the major threat was going on in her head right now.

“C’mon girls, don’t worry. Everything will be all right. I think Martin would be fine if we give the justification about the project. He is a good fellow, you know,” Lawrence said, as looked into Reshmi’s eyes. Nowadays he was smoothing her emotions with his lubricated words. He had a soft spot whenever he had got a chance to vent her hardcore feelings. He didn’t know if she loved Gautam, because Reshmi had never shared her personal details with him. She had very few friends in this company, including Koki and skipping Shophi. The one reason she had believed Koki was because she was straight forward and down to earth (this is nothing to do with her huge figure) type. The one reason why she had kept the distance with Lawrence was that he always maintained a high profile, which she disliked much. Also she didn’t like his friend Shravanth, who was all pranking, mojo, shoddy and sometimes crook.

“No Lawrance, he is going to whip us left and right today. There is no transformation happened in this project from last week. That is the big worry for me. Also I have to face this Lohit and update on this now. I have really lost my guts to face him face to face, you know,” Reshmi was blinking now. The terrible fear of looking into his broad and irritating face had made her faint and dissolves into depressed mood. She would have had courage to pat the arrogant tiger, but absolutely not her team lead. The mere thought had whipped her brain with a surreal leather belt. She needed at least ten different Gods to save from him. She mumbled just to pray for the Gods to huddle and enter into her soul now.

“C’mon Reshmi, you should not worry about him too much. He is like us only. If you start speaking good things, his anger mood would slip into friendly conversation, you know,” Lawrance said and winked at her. Do you think he knew the reason behind the Lohit’s hatred?

“You shut up Lawri. Don’t back that bullshit fellow, once more. I know how bad that fellow is. He is an arrogant brash and full of nuts and bolts,” Koki wanted to yell more, but few people from another team (sitting in the opposite cubicles) had glared at her. If you ask her speak such crap, she will talk until midnight without having food and water. She was such a gossip monger. In fact, her tongue was a few inches longer than others, it would be doubtful if it had grown because of her courage to speak for nonstop bust. One more tidbit was that she had claimed a title in her schoolings that she had spoken the five minute essay (in competition) into one hour and made everyone in the school to stand under the scalding sun with their tentative legs (including the sturdy and orthodox Principal).

“Koki, do you stop yelling at some others all the time,” Sophi said, her eyebrows were curled into arrows while she glowered at her. Her rosy cheeks and dimple chin were rising high and low to spy this matter to her dearest and preening project manager. In fact, her toes were started itching to get away from this place and pour this nugget of wisdom into his ear. Not to mention what happened after their tumultuous and wreak havocking coffee meeting, a week before. She had called her roly-poly manager at midnight, probably 12.30 pm or something. The manager was fighting with the mosquitos with a tennis bat (the nets were electric) that night because in every nook and corner these blood sucking insects were crawling and buzzing in a freakish manner. His wife had administered him to do this job successfully before he could embrace her into honeymoon. The paunchy man, was swinging that special tennis bat up and down, he had to jump all the way to the ceiling because these insects were doing all the gymnastics for him. When his phone had rung, he threw the bat aside on the table, and lurked the phone behind his big ear. ‘Yeah tell what happened dear’ he said to Sophi, who was already full of tears and breaking in wild tears fit. Her voice was choking when she said ‘The big and bullish Koki was irritating me in front of everyone.’ His tongue went to slacking as he reassured her, “I will take care of that mongrel tomorrow.’ Guess what happened the next day, yes, the bark necked Lohit had come to Koki’s desk by whisking his buttocks sideways and hollered and screamed and yammered at Koki, who crooned after him.

“Sophi, you peppy…don’t spy this matter to your curly manager, otherwise I will pull off the vocal cords from your groggy throat,” Koki threatened her with her huge and terrible eyes. It looked like Sophi had caught in this trap, since her face had gone pale and darker; usually it had all crimson in the world in the name of cosmetics.

“Koki, you shut up,” Reshmi banged her fingers at her mouth. The only person who had some unassailable strength to put her hold was Reshmi. Koki had shut up her mouth but her eyes which were still hurtling arrows at Sophi in an indignant style. One of the interesting facts was, though these two girls had never liked each other, they had never file a petition before his team lead to separate their seats. They might have felt it would be boring without such yelling talks. God knows if it was true or not?

His team lead was coming through the aisle, as he had fished out a HP black laptop in his one hand and another hand was swaying delightfully while his legs were did the cat walking. He stopped in front of Reshi’s cubicle first, guess why, yeah, because she was the cutest girl in the team (but not to adore her gorgeous figure). His mouth went into snarling while looked into her spotless and rosy face. Of course you know why? His big black mole on his left cheek was changing into purplish (on seeing hot girls), which was a new transformation he was going through these days.

“C’mon guys we would go attend the client call,” Lohit said.

There was a little hesitation from the girls. He nodded with a streaming vehemence and hatred.

“What happened? Have you finished the work or not?” Lohit said. Did you realize that his communication always start with What? That was the word that helps him to feed his anger in a tremendous way. He would have died if there was no word found to yell at someone in a brash manner.

“Yeah Lohit….we are still…something needs to done,” Koki was in a full flow now.

“Damn it, what are you talking?” He blared, “Anyway come we are running out of time to make a call.”

Lohit had scurried with his ferocious legs to the conference room and his preys were followed behind him. He flicked a switch to turn on the small yellow light and the eerie darkness gone out now. The room was cold inside because nobody was inside for a long hours. The long and glossy square table was placed in the middle, occupying three fourth of the room. The high backed black chairs were lingered behind the table. Everyone yanked each one with a lowly spirit and sat on it. You would have often noticed these drooping faces in the graveyards as if they had lost their beloved ones and plunged into depression. Koki would have lost five kgs to attend this client call because of her monstrous fear to update her project status.

“Tell me the client number… quick,” Lohit yelled at the team.

Guess who was the first member threw the number. Yes, Sophi who had maintained a long notebook to jot down the numbers. Even you may wonder if it was a telephone directory or what, since the numbers were overflowed in the note book. It looked like she had to buy another notebook in coming days.

“Thanks Sophi,” Lohit said and punched those numbers. The call went to the California, USA and the fat fellow Martin had uprooted from his seat on hearing the loud ringing in his extension. He hooked up the receiver and started the initial gossiping; it was traditional in the American continent that they had to greet others before smacking them with their pounding conversation. Some call it was business tricks.

“Hello, Martin, how are you doing?” Lohit said. His tawdry face was blown with colorful bubbles when he had greeted him. Until now he was yammering at his team, but suddenly he vibrated with foreign energy. Who said the greatest actors were living in the cine industry, no, there were plenty of actors living in the software world too. It’s just that people haven’t recognized them, that’s it.

“Hah, I’m doing so great. Weather is cool outside. The daylight saving had started today. My kid David has joined in elementary school and he is having great time too,” Martin said. Did you see how passionately he was throwing all the information, in fact he had brought his son in the company discussion too?

“Oh, that’s wonderful. You must be having a jostling life there. How about David? Is he grown up that quick,” Lohit had started his Sermon on the Mount speech now. You should have seen the expressions, his face was busting like crackers.

For Reshmi, the dull and thumping headache was started now. She held her left hand on her forehead and dropped her head low.

“David, ha ha ha,” the client chuckled heartily into phone, “he is very funny boy. He started dating with a neighborhood girl, you know,” again a huge laugh, “his mother Nancy having a great deal of time to be with him. He wanted to eat all the chocolates in the world, last night I had brought Guinness chocolate bar from the Kroger shop for him. It’s an Ireland made, you see.”

Koki’s lips were twitching to taste that chocolate now. Sophi was looking at her lean fingers if it was straight or crooked, a kind of analysis girls were particularly interested.

“Is it? That’s really interesting you know. I must see him one day,” Lohit hooked the client with bait. His brain had already flown to US.

“Oh, you can come here next month if you wanted. Let me throw one business visa for you, next moment you can fly over the Atlantic Ocean and you would be chatting with my kid, here,” Martin said. This was what Lohit had expected, the tedious goose bumps were budding on his skin now, upon hearing this flattering news. Of course, he was trying to seduce him for a long time, now his mission was complete.

Lawrence was snapping his fingers across his mouth and expecting the project call to take place. Boy, you had to wait at least half an hour more to begin this.

“You are very generous to make this offer for me,” Lohit was praising him. A few drops of tears were sprouting from his eyes now. He had to fight hard to hold back it, because he didn’t expect such a magnanimous gesture of goodness from this client. It’s like his long and pending dream had suddenly become true.

“No, it’s my simple honor for leading the project successfully for a long time. Hah, anyway, how your team is doing there? ” Martin said, his voice was sharp and high pitched now. His heart was already thrumming vigorously to speak with the girls, who were considered as happy queens in the project. In fact, he had suggested the number of girls in the project should be higher, though he had shown some mercy finally to include Lawrance in this group.

Lohit glared at his team to respond to the client cheerily, “Hello, Martin, we are doing good here?” the girls cooed sonorously. Lawrence thin voice was drowned under the girls hooting noise.

“Wow, there is a huge buzz. I think you all are being very energetic after having your supper, ha ha,” Martin chuckled once again and his springy stomach was bouncing high and low. He didn’t know they haven’t gone out to have their snacks in the evening, and everyone was shedding long lasting perspiration to make this project work, particularly Koki and Reshmi.

There was a brief pause, because Lohit had interrupted the girls from talking to the client. He thought the client would fall in the pit of girls.

“Fine, where are we standing in the projects, Lohit. Are we set to release the final draft of coding tomorrow?” Martin said, his voice was huskier now. It was dried of empathy and compassion. The hunting process had begun now. Enjoy girls!

“Koki will update about her Project status,” Lohit and whisked his hand at Koki to continue the momentum.

Koki was getting ready to speak up now and cleared her big throat in a swagger as if she was going to give a speech in front of Alabama university students and said, “I am doing pretty good Martin…I mean the project is in a good shape now. But the only problem is the LCD display still not flashing up. I have tried all the configuration parameters to make it work, but it is still not working,” Koki said, her eyes were darted restlessly as she updated this status. Lohit was fuming inside after hearing this plain and torturous status update. By this time, Lohit was sure his US visit was tumbled down.

“Lohit, the aim of the project itself is to bring up the LCD display, isn’t?” Martin was perplexed. Perhaps, he had dug into the drawer to pull down the materials to investigate what was the actual fact.

“Yeah, Martin, you are right,” Lohit said.

“Oh my God, then the project is yet to be started or what?” Martin said, he was panicked. The blood was rushed to his big forehead suddenly.

Koki’s upper lip quivered in a jolt of fear and she wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her. It’s like she was waiting for the earthquake to assault her.

“Koki, are you there?” Martin, heart was beating faster now, because there was no immediate response.

“I am heeere,” Koki took a heavy pride to announce this and abruptly her face turned colorless and vapid.

“Last time you had said some routing problem with the device, isn’t?” Martin said. He was at last raked his brain to receive this information.

“The same problem still persists,” Koki had accentuated to gather this emotional outburst.

“What? How that possible, you had asked for three days but I had given you…Wait,” he said, paused and counted with his fat fingers, “hah, Thursday and Friday as grace period. But still you haven’t completed the project, eh? Shame on you,” Martin said in a heavy thick American accent.

“Give some justification, you idiot,” Lohit had put the call on hold and threw a disgusting words at Koki, who went flaring up.

Reshmi was shuddered to know what was going to happen to her in a few minutes after Koki’s vicious attack.

“Martin, the processor board is a latest one and it was ARM based and had quad core processors in-built into the system. Getting through the schematics is a big deal for me. There were different types of mapping structures were followed to route the pins for LCD display,” Koki babbled. It was only two core processor and the schematics were hardly more than fifty pages. Even a seventh grade student would have gone through it in a day or something. But she had to give justification and she was good at it. But she was desperate to hear from Martin on this, because she didn’t know how he was going to take it.

Lohit was aghast after hearing her unconscionable statement. And waiting for the right time to plunge onto her.

“Oh, Koki you must be in turmoil. I can understand that. Oh, I shouldn’t have burdened you with such a big task. Okay, let me give you one more week to get it done,” Martin said, he wanted to pour out the tears for acting arrogantly in dealing with this project. You might call it compassion or whatever.

“Thank you Martin,” Koki’s face turned bluish and sparkling. It’s like she had lifted up the gold medal in Olympics.

“Next, hmmmmm… Reshmi, what about the bug fixing of protocol?” Martin said.

“Martin, I am working on the bubble short communication protocol, but still I couldn’t establish the communication between the two processor boards,” Reshmi said, wringing her fingers anxiously.

“This is unpardonable. I couldn’t take this Reshmi. This is really a simple thing to do. Are you going to develop any code for it? No, it’s simply a bug fix. If you couldn’t fix it for more than three weeks, I am sorry, I don’t know what to do,” Martin said, his voice was perky and stubborn now, “What do you think Lohit?”

Reshmi was fighting hard to hold back her tears, because she knew that he was making a stern statement here. In fact, she had expected this, even though she couldn’t know how to confront this right now with a grave heart.

“Yeah, you are right Martin. You had given her more than a week to prove her capability in this project, but she had ruined her chance to utilize it properly. You let know what I should do with her,” Lohit said, he was in cloud eighteen for creating a chance for the pretty girl to whimper.

“I don’t want to drag this project anymore, because my senior manager is pulling my back to deliver this project immediately. So, let’s bring up another prudent resource to establish this bubble communication by the end of this week. I think Lawerence would fit into this slot. Any thoughts from your side?” Martin said. His tone was very serious and intensive. His words were parched and dry like the Sahara desert.

“Absolutely, I thought so. I think Lawrence is happy with this decision because he had already completed his task and waiting to kick off the next project,” Lohit said.

“And one more thing. I don’t want Reshmi to move out of this project and let her stay in. If she moved to bench, then it would bring a lot of troubles for her. Everyone would start question her ability on handling this project. I don’t want her to get into such turmoil, so let her linger in this project with Lawrence until the job is done,” Martin said with a heavy heart.

This nobleness in his talk, made Reshmi to feel sick and wounded. It’s like he had slapped across her face with his mighty hand, though he had shown some empathy in the end. She had never interested to work because someone was backing her continuously. She didn’t want to encourage it and wanted to snap this awkward position immediately. There was only one possibility for her now, and that was to shine brightly in her passion (dancing). She had to find a way earning through her dancing capability to come out of this reckless software world, but it wasn’t an easier task though. She had to bring forth all her mightiness in achieving this tremendous possibility on leading her passionate life.

“Okay bye all, let’s have a great week ahead,” Martin said and disconnected the call with a sore note.

*

Chapter 12: Narasuss coffee

“Are you eating or not? You have lost so much weight,” Gautam’s mother said, her hands were stroking over his face. She gave a sidelong glance at Kamesh, as if he had looted all the food of her son. Kamesh had to duck his face down at the floor.

“Mom, I am all right. Don’t estimate the people’s fitness by their weights, but by their physical strength,” Gautam said, but her mom had given him a shoddy look, as if he had become a mad or something.

“What’s happening Gautam? I didn’t hear any good news from you. Are you preparing well for the interviews or not?” his father said, he was tall and sturdy with a heavy mustache. His bushy hair showing the agedness and wrinkles were forming under his eyes.

“I am preparing well pa, but they hadn’t given a job to me yet,” Gautam said, without a hint of shame.

“I told you, isn’t?” his mother was shaking her finger in front of her husband, “my son is good in studies, no one can beat him up,” she was pumping her finger at her bosom to show her patriotism about her son. In fact, every mother had such a lofty thought about her own children, though their children won’t justify it sometimes. Don’t you think so?

“You stop chanting about your child now. Look at these fellows,” his father had raised his finger at Kamesh and Madhan who were lurking behind Gautam, “I think you guys got a job, isn’t?”

“Yeah, uncle. I have received a MNC job a few weeks back and now started earning, you know,” Kamesh said as folded his fat hands across his chest. Each word sputtered with hefty proudness.

“That’s the spirit,” Gautam’s father snapped his fingers, and beamed ecstatically at Kamesh and then averted his glance at Gautam, “you should learn from this guy. See how cool he is.”

Gautam was infuriated and shocked as well. He couldn’t take the way his father had delightfully chummed behind this fat fellow. In fact, every father had a soft corner with this bubbly man. He didn’t know why? Is being so fat means they have a big heart or what?

“But….” Madhan wanted to say something but swallowed the words down his throat immediately. He had gritted his teeth at Kamesh for telling that he got placed in MNC. His eyebrows were fluttering to tell that he didn’t have a software job, but a shoddy BPO job in a small company. Not to tell that he had earned this job out of magnanimous empathy from the HR.

“Tell me son, you wanted to say something to the world” Gautam’s mother said as looked at him with a pair of probing eyes.

“No, I didn’t. I just wanted to say that I am also trying to find a job,” Madhan said. He didn’t want to take their mercy, but couldn’t hide this fact too.

“Tch…Tch….see how poor this boy is,” Gautam’s mother consoled him.

“How long you are trying to find a job, my boy?” Gautam’s father asked Madhan.

“For more than eight months now,” Madhan confessed with guilty heart.

Gautam’s father shook his head and looked astutely at his son and said, “Gautam, pack up things. Let’s come to Pudukottai with us.”

“Why? What happened pa. What will I do if I come with you? Let me find a software job here,” Gautam said with his panicky eyes. He couldn’t think of living alone there without Reshmi. There love bond was stronger now after having had met her on birthday with so many difficulties. He just couldn’t think a life without her. All the more, his willingness to earn a software job was a challenge thrown at him by Reshmi. He had to obey her order; otherwise he was going to lose her faithful love, let alone thinking of touching her again.

“How many years are you going to stay like this? Time is running out. Let’s come with me, I will request with our transport department to get a conductor job for you,” his father was going in a full tempo to change the course of life of his son. A heavy shudder went through Gautam’s spine as heard his father had suggested him of the job opportunity with the transport corporation.

“Yes my dear son, you go by what your father says. I don’t want to see you in this small room and suffering yourself, come with us,” his mother was frantic now.

“Mom, no, I am not suffering. If I stay here a few more months, definitely I will be having a software job. Please don’t push me very hard,” Gautam said.

“How are you going to get a job? See this boy is looking for a job more than eight months, but still he didn’t have any luck. I don’t think it’s going to work,” his mother said, pointing her finger at Madhan, who was stood like a petrified boar.

“See mom, I am planning to do some course again, if I do that I will certainly get a job,” Gautam said.

“What kind of course you wanted to do now? Remember you are a son of bus conductor, not a son of Mukesh Ambani. I couldn’t earn in dollars to spend extravagantly for your courses and all. Making you engineer itself is a biggest thing for us. You never think of doing course again,” his father blared.

“Dad, you believe me. If you can give me fifty thousand I will learn Java. It is a three month course only pa. Once I do this course, the job will be in my hands,” Gautam said and nudged his elbow at Madhan, “See he is also planning to do the same course.” He thought if he had learnt the Java coarse he would be sold like hot cakes in the silicon industry. But God knows what would happen to him once he finished the course.

Madhan was deeply embarrassed for letting him to involve in this family fight. He wanted to stay aloof, but given the circumstance it wasn’t an easiest thing to do. All he prayed now was, Gautam’s parents won’t ask him about his future ventures and his massive failures in the name of job hunting. If they start rekindle the fire, it was going to hurt him like hell.

Gautam’s father averted a furious glance at his son and said, “Impossible, I have to die if I have to get this money,” he elevated his left eyebrow at his wife, “see, how easily he is asking to give fifty thousand rupees. It is my six months’ salary. For last five years I haven’t saved anything for our family. You know one thing, you have a sister. We have to save something to let her marry. To make you an engineer, she has sacrificed her life and she is studying BSc chemistry in the government college. You know how much we spent on her. It is only five thousand rupees so far and she is going to finish her college. Sir, do you know how much money we had spent on you,” he nodded at his son, who was ducked down his head in sheer embarrassment. He had never thought his father was going to bring this personal misery in front of his friends.

“You stop your anguish against him,” Gautam’s mother said to her husband, “If he started earning, to whom he is going to give the money. It’s only for us, no. So why do you hesitate to spend on his studies. Look at our son, don’t you think he is going to become a genius like Tendulkar or Dhoni?”

“Aunty they are cricket players,” Kamesh said.

“Whoever or whatever,” she said, as gazed at Kamesh, “don’t you think my son would become such a genius fellow one day.”

Kamesh mourned in submission and didn’t know what to speak. He gingerly shook his head and looked at her blankly. Actually he was afraid that she was going to rip off him if he would dare to speak against her.

“You stop backing your ruthless son all the time. He is not a kid now. He has grown up like an ass and it’s time to live his life on his own feet, but still he is asking huge money from me. Where should I go? Do you think should I go in the street begging or what?” his father was now become furious and unstoppable. His whiskers were flicking at both sides as he roused with bitter anger against his son. The plastic chair was shaking too. Madhan thought of escaping through the door, because it’s looked like Gautam’s father was going to blast them too. More than that, Madhan had felt guiltiness for not having a job himself, and his each word had been hammered on his ears with ferocity.

“Dad, you stop talking this nonsense. I don’t want your money, you leave me alone. That’s enough. I know how to earn the job,” Gautam said. He was talking out of sheer frustration than what he actually meant. He didn’t have any idea what would happen to him if his father was going to stop funding after him. The room was already in a financial crash after Madhan’s father had dropped him supplying the money. Now, they were solely depending on Kamesh’s abysmal salary. The way his father had talked now meant, he was definitely going to cut the fund and there was not a single chance to get through the Java course, which he was intended to study.

“Am I talking nonsense,” his father shook his finger wildly at Gautam, “you can speak like this, because you don’t know what the money means. I am no more paying a rupee for you. I have done with you. You can lead your life yourself and do whatever you want,” his father almost cussed at him.

There was a knock on the door. Kamesh scurried down the floor and creaked open the door. He was shocked to see Reshmi standing over there. He didn’t know what to do now. She smiled at him, but he was scrunching his face while making numerous expressions to stop her there. He was badly wanted to convey to her that Gautam’s parents were present in the room but he couldn’t speak to her. He made some hand gestures and face gestures, but she thought he had gone mad or something.

“Hello, shall I come inside?” Reshmi asked Kamesh finally. In fact, she had stepped inside the room before he had given permission. Kamesh was fumbled and back footed with his tumbling heart.

She didn’t look at Gautam’s parents, and went straight to cuddle her boyfriend. She hugged him closely and kissed on his cheek firmly. How on earth the girls come at the wrong time? Do they have antennae on their heads to peep into such critical situations? Gautam had no idea why she had made this unsolicited and suspense trip to his room. She had never come to this room before, but what prompted her to make this surreal trip suddenly. He had squeezed his brain to make a coherent solution, but ended in vain. No doubt, his father was shocked to see such a close intimacy between his son and an adorable girl. On the other hand, his mother was so proud of her son for making such a beautiful girl fall in love with him. Let’s see what this puzzling situation going to unfold in front of us.

Gautam had tried hard to free himself from her entangling grip of Reshmi. She thought he was feeling uneasy because his friends were there. But slowly it had dawned on her mind that she hadn’t seen the two elders were staying in the room too.

“Oops, sorry, I haven’t seen you,” Reshmi said, as she flicked her strands of hair from her forehead. It’s looked like she had done a head bath because the hair was very soft and perfumed, and it was flowing smoothly over her back. She looked dazzling in her white and blue salwar kameez and you could see the red glossy lipstick on her bow lips was strong and blazing. In fact, the red smudge was printed on Gautam’s cheek, he still not aware of it. Somebody can go and wipe it off, oh God, his father was going to see it right now.

“I thought you are a responsible fellow until now, though you haven’t earned money. But on seeing this, I’m helpless with you and have lost the minimum confidence I had on you,” his father reprimanded him sternly.

Madhan’s eyes were still glued with the red lipstick mark on Gautam’s cheek. He was crying inwardly for her incredulous act before him. What else would be so intimidating than this scene for a one side lover like him? There was a huge chance that his heart might have bled too.

“Dad, she is just a friend,” Gautam managed a shriek.

“Do you think I am a blind person to believe this,” his father had glared at his wife, “see, he is telling she is a friend. Which friend gives such a solid kiss on cheek for a minute, eh? C’mon Menaka we will go out of here. Our son is dead now,” he stood up.

“Sorry uncle, but we both are in love,” Reshmi said. She didn’t want to hide anything from Gautam’s parents. In fact, she got angry when he mentioned that she was just a friend. Now, she had to justify why she had kissed him, otherwise his parents were going to consider her a witch. Whatever it was going to bring forth in store, she had to reveal the truth.

“She is so cute,” Gautam’s mother said to her husband, “why do you hate her. Even if we search for bide, I doubt we get a beautiful girl like her. Why don’t you accept her,” she said, stroking her fingers on Reshmi’s soft rosy cheeks.

“Are you going to come or not?” Gautam’s father voice was getting louder now.

“No, she is kind and looking good. Why do you hate them?” his mother protested now.

There was a big slap….across her face. The five fingers were made a huge impact and her cheeks were turned reddish now. The tears were flowing like Yamuna River. It crawled down her cheeks to neck. All the commotion in the room had suddenly halted.

Gautam’s father had not speak a word and hiked up his pants and dragged near to the door, to tell bye to Gautam’s friends. He then headed down the stairs without looking at his son or going to be a daughter-in-law (at least his wife thought so).

“Sorry aunty, I shouldn’t have told him that we are in love,” Reshmi said.

Gautam’s mother wiped her tears with the hem of her sari and looked up at Reshmi with a delightful sight, “You don’t worry, he is like that only. If I go back with him, he would be normal again. But take care of my son, I don’t know when the God would open His eyes to let him have a job in his hand,” she said with a pounding heart, as she lifted up her hands up in the air.

“Aunty, he would definitely, get a job. You don’t worry, we are all here to take care of him,” Reshmi said with a confident voice.

“That’s what I am praying for. If he gets a job, his father might forgive him. He is in financial burden because he didn’t know how to get marrying our daughter to someone. She is already finished a degree and waiting to get marry now. That was his biggest worry,” Gautam’s mother said. The tears were again started flowing copiously now.

Reshmi wiped the tears with her both thumb fingers like stopping a child from crying and said, “Aunty, you go happily now. In a month, Gautam will hold a job in his hand. I will assure you,” Reshmi had promised as clasped her hand with hers.

“That is what I am looking for. If it is happened then, I will hack a goat for our deity Thulukanathamman,” she said with a sobbing heart.

“Mom, you stop crying. I will be all right, you go without worrying about me,” Gautam said to his mother. He was slightly pissed off because her mother was making a good scene in front of his friends, particularly with Reshmi. Though he was happy that his mother had accepted his love, there was a deep hole in his soul for his father had denied him brutally. He knew it wasn’t an easy thing to suffice his father at front. He always felt terrible to face his father when he was in anguish. Today his confrontation and snobbish character had reached to penultimate destination, by beating his wife in front of everyone. Gautam was still fuming and angered at the thought of his father had beaten his mother.

“Menaka, are you going to come or not?” her husband was screaming from the down stairs. He was still waiting there for her to join him. His nerve on the back of the neck was sticking out to emulate his seething anger at his wife. If she wasn’t going to join him in a couple of minutes and he was going to beat her to death. That’s what his fuming had suggested now.

Gautam’s mother had suddenly slid down her thick gold rings from her three fingers and handed it to her son and said, “Keep this for your expenses. If you think you wanted to do a course, you do. But don’t spoil it my son. I am going now, bye.”

She hardly stayed there before she dragged herself towards the door. She stared at her son for a few seconds before she got down the stairs. Everyone had whisked their hands at her.

“You should be lucky to have a mother like her,” Reshmi said.

“First up all, tell me why did you come here?” Gautam asked, gritted his teeth. He was shocked about his own response on her. He never had thought he would be blazing in anger against Reshmi. Why not? He had loved her so deeply until now, to get a glimpse of her. But what happened all of a sudden to him. He just simply can’t digest the fact that she was the reason why his mother had to take a slap from his father.

“Oh dear, you forgive me. I am the reason for all the mishaps that happened right now. I couldn’t just take it easy myself. I feel bad too,” Reshmi crooned, as her face beautifully showcased her pity.

“I thought my heart was stopped beating when I had seen you behind the door. My tongue was shut and I was wordless that time you know,” Kamesh said.

“You should have avoided kissing him,” Madhan said, more to himself. He was waiting to make this statement for a long time, now he got a chance to go ahead. This shows how frustrated he was when she had cuddled and kissed Gautam in front of him. The wreak havocking pain was still lingered in his heart. This scrunching pain was going to stay with him for at least a week, that’s for sure. He had to make an alternative plans to vent out his suffering emotions.

“Sorry guys for that. I thought you will take it easily,” Reshmi smiled now. Her front glossy white teeth were gracious enough to show off.

“Tell me, what is reason that you came today, suddenly like an attacker,” Gautam said.

Reshmi tossed her tuft of hair behind her ear and gleamed at him saying, “You know what, I have done the advertisement for Narasuss coffee and it’s going to telecast from today night at 8.330pm in Sun TV.”

“Narasuss coffee? I thought you are going to act for the leading brands,” Kamesh said, gave an inflammable and mischievous look. He had never talked to her in a commanding style, but for the first time. He had gained this confidence after seeing her enchanting kiss. He thought she was so friendly to take a dig at her.

“Getting a chance itself is a big thing for me. It’s impossible to think about brands and all,” Reshmi said, somewhat dejected at his teasing comment. Though she looked unconcerned and nonchalant about what he spoke, her face had showed some glimpse of protest.

“Are you dancing in this add?” Gautam was stunned to ask this question. This seemed to be very important from his perspective, because Reshmi always wanted to give preference to dance. It had never occurred to him there would be a chance to dance for coffee adds and all. That’s what enticed him to probe her upfront.

“Of course, I had. But it was funny, there was only a few steps and it’s more like Bharatanatyam, you know,” Reshmi said.

“Bharatanatyam??” Madhan said, he was waiting to intrude with her.

“It’s look like that, but it deviates to western style,” Reshmi confessed with a slight smile.

“Anyway congrats,” Madhesh extended his hand to clasp with hers. He was melted at her touch. He was worried and pitiful because that’s all he had mustered to say to her now. After all, he had one side love with her. Don’t you think he had earned his solemn face to convey his feelings?

But Reshmi didn’t concern about his greetings. Her primary concern now was that Gautam’s mother had cried and gave her rings to her son. She was happy that his mother had accepted her, though his father denied her completely. She had no clue why his father had hated her. Caste or Creed? She had no idea. But she had a hope that he will change himself in the future, at least after Gautam had received a job. If there was a chance, she would have asked him to hold a job of hers. She would be very happy to do it for him. She didn’t like her software job at all. Also she was seriously pursuing her career in choreography, though it seemed to be tougher now. It looked like she had to go through various pathways to reach her goal. Still, she was more willing and persistent to climb upward. There was no doubt in that.

“Now, tell me what you guys are going to do?” she asked, looking deep into Gautam’s eyes. This question was posed to him, though she mentioned it commonly.

“Let sell those rings and see how much we get?” Kamesh said, as heaved his bumpy chest in front of them.

“You shut up, Kami. This is my mother’s rings and I am not going to sell it,” Gautam said, he was feeling his mother’s affection right now. The tears, his mother had wept had been still drenched on the floor, he could see it now.

“C’mon speak practically. I think you should utilize the money to do some course?” Reshmi said. She didn’t feel good when she said that to him, because she had never wanted to make such amendment. She still believed he had a few months to hold a clean job under his buckle. She had firmly believed in it since one more Techno Park was going to be unveiled in the city in the coming month, and it might boost the employment opportunity rate. This would definitely ease the creaking pressure on the fresher’s shoulders. She always felt she was lucky to hold a job, but at the same time she had really felt awkward to stay in this job without any promising talent in the software skills. But Gautam was different and he had a good resourcing talent to hone his software ability, though he was still struggling with the macabre English language. That was the biggest barrier he had to sail across to avoid the inevitable danger lurking in front of him.

“I can’t think clearly right now. Let me see what I can do,” Gautam said, he was fussed about doing the course and all by selling his mother’s rings. But the situation was getting worse after staying eight months without any job in hand. It was such a desperate situation that he might pray to God to clear this messiness. He knew that he had to sharpen his tinkering tongue to lavish the English language. If he could be able to do this, then he was in a cloud nine and would be very confident to pluck off the software job from any major industry.

“Okay, at least go to English coaching, no,” Reshmi said.

“No, Reshmi. I have to think about it. My mind is completely blank after coming across this hectic discussion with my parents. Not to say that I was a culprit behind my father’s beating at my mother,” Gautam said, perhaps, his eyes were glistened for a few seconds.

“Of course, I know well. But your mother had given her rings for some purpose, that to make you a successful person. You have to show some heart to heed to her words,” Resmi said, she pampered her hand on his shoulder.

“Yeah man. Each person will take one ring and pawn it to earn some money to do the course,” Madhan said generously. In fact, he had tried to snatch the rings from Gautam, who was stubborn to give it away.

“Madhan, you stop speaking rubbish,” Reshmi had commanded him, her index finger was shaking with atrocity. The word ‘pawn’ had aroused her anguish, she felt it was something ridiculous to say something like that. Madhan was back pedaled on seeing her simmering eyes. He knew it was a definite sign that wild storm would pass over him. So, why take unnecessary risk. He mourned and mummed his mouth.

“Why don’t we convert this ring into money and put it in our vaults to face any financial crisis in our room. Don’t you think it is a good advice,” Kamesh said. He was ecstatic as if he had given a suggestion to the World Bank on revising the repo rate or something. The effervescent glee on his bulbous face had confirmed his anticipation. Gautam was irritated and his calm face was turning into raging fire now, after hearing Kami’s advice.

“Reshmi, you get out of here. If you stay here for a few more minutes then you become mad. Kami is expert on this. So let’s be safe and go back to your hotel. I will call you later in the night,” Gautam said in a commanding voice, which he seldom did with Reshmi.

She felt quite embarrassed at the moment not because he had authoritatively deflected her pride in front of his friends. But because, she thought she couldn’t stay for long hours in the room to catch with these guys (yeah, idiots). She wanted to discuss much more, in fact she thought of having a hot drink with them (at least a sip of wine?) while sharing funny stories about their past history. She had never had a good cherishing time back in her college days that was still haunting her soul. She was always short of having good girl friends on her side (of course Koki alone would fulfill this huge gap single handedly, but still…). With these fellows she thought she had found the coherence and serendipity to spend her time extravagantly.

“Okay, bye guys,” Reshmi said and slowly straightened herself to get out of the room and nodded her head, “don’t miss my add, eh. You all are intended to give a comment on this.” She laughed as tossed her tendrils of hair back and moved out the door with ease.

*

Chapter 13: Skimpy girl and half boil

“HEY, LAWRENCE TODAY I feel very hungry. What did you prepare?” Shravanth said. These two are sharing the same room in Domlur, and it was a two kilometer distance from where his old friends stayed.

“Nothing man, I feel sleepy, let me take rest,” Lawrence said and propped his head on the devan bed. Now, he had started sleeping in the devan cot after earning money. Both were weird colleagues to share the same room, because these guys had never learnt how to cook. There was always a fight in between them who to cook. Always Shravanth had expected Lawrence should take charge because he had joined him late and felt he was his inferior to serve him. A couple of days were a honeymoon period for Lawrence when he had first come to this room, during those days Shravanth had prepared badam kesari, and cashew payasam and all, for him. Later, the real struggle had started among them. Shravanth had always portrayed that he had heavy work in the office (browsing through latest models in the late hours) and would come late at nine o’clock and took a plate and scream at Lawrence to serve the food as if he was his wife. Lawrence was sometimes shuddered when on Friday late nights, he would come after partying with his team mates in pub. He had to go open the door immediately, otherwise his friend would give a nice kick on his slim ass. Some nights he hadn’t slept at all, when he had really whacked at him. The interesting thing was, in the next morning Shravanth would wake up and crawl to his bed in knees down and ask him sorry if he had done something wrong in the last night. Lawrence would pretend like he was sleeping (due to the yapping pain in his guts) but he actually hear with his keen ears. Tears would knock down his eyes too.

“You fucker, did you prepare anything to eat or not?” Shravanth screamed.

“Huh, yesterday only I have prepared chicken biryani, no,” Lawrence said. To be frank, the chicken biryani was tasted like boiled mushroom, there was no masala in it (he had used a remnants of masala powder in the packs. God knows if he had used the right powder) and chicken legs were shrunken like polio attacked legs, the taste was sour and rubbery. If you would have eaten it, there was no doubt you would be pulled on the stretcher the next minute. But you have to admire his bravery for making this arduous effort.

“Never say that is chicken biryani. I even doubt if dog would have eat that,” Shravanth said, his yelling noise was steady.

“But you ate it, isn’t?” Lawrence said. You see he had a point there. But let them debate themselves on this issue.

Shravanth went in full roar as his face formed with wrinkles, “you mean…you mean…I am a dog.” His lips were trembling with sheer frustration and agonized feelings drifted across his eyes now.

“No, I didn’t say that. I said the fact,” Lawrence said. The fear was getting through his nerves now. He knew there was a real chance to fight it out. He had a weak physical strength to compare with him. It was impossible for Lawri to beat him down even if he would have punched him fifty times. But he can fight with scummy words. He believed that’s what he was doing here.

“It’s my blunder to allow you in this room. You are like a country kid, no dress sense and nothing. I should have guessed when you had come from that snobbish group. What was his name….yeah…Kamesh…how dare this fat fellow to hurtle a sniping remark on me when I was waiting for a bus in the bus stop. I would have kicked on his balls that time,” Shravanth infuriated, as kicked his feet in the air as if he was really meant to kick at Kamesh.

“You say anything about me, but don’t drag my friends into this orbit, I can’t tolerate that. What do you know about them, you city crap,” Lawrence showed some temerity against him. He had stood up from the bed now, and his anger was showing in his small eyes. After all, they were his college mates and he couldn’t bear the inflicting comments on them. Particularly when he had attacked Kamesh, because these two guys were inseparable until that phone crash had happened.

“Why are you getting angry if I curse that buffalo? These guys are dumb and ass. Don’t fall on my head to support these morons,” Shravanth hollered.

“You better shut up. I don’t like the way you curse on them. They are my friends, after all,” Lawrance said. He felt like go and plunge at him by yanking his shirt and slapping on his face. He simply couldn’t deny that he was pissed off when this guy had maliciously tongue lashed at them.

“Hah, friends…” Shravanth snickered, “for they had kicked you out from the room, eh? If I didn’t allow you in this room, you could have sleeping in the platform, mind it.”

“Do you call this a room? You are a witch to bring a girl weekly and fuck her. Damn it. It’s my mistake on deciding to come out of my Zen zone. They are far better than a sniffing fellow like you,” Lawrence screamed like thunder now. He was right. Regularly, he had brought girls to the room. At least twice in a month, he would get that girlish taste in this room. Whenever he had brought a girl to the room, woefully Lawrence had to stay out of the room or he would be yanked out like a cockroach by that bestial fellow Shravanth. Two weeks back, after having party, he brought a scrawny girl (you could count her bones if she was naked) and both were drunk that time, they came at midnight while Lawrence was sleeping with sweet dreams, and the ripping noise on the door made him to wake up suddenly, he had scrambled across the room with his dainty feet and squeaked open the door with the handle. Plonk…plonk…plonk…the girl was retching out the drink and the semi-solid food was littered on the floor. The stabbing thing was that he had to clean that shit into the dustbin and mop the floor with the lemon liquid. And this poor story won’t end there. He had to make half boil for her because the girl’s stomach was empty now to take some pleasantly blows from Shravanth. Like a good domestic servant Lawrence had done the cooking job, a wet towel would be hanging down on his shoulder and tears would crept over his cheeks (on thinking about his past with Kamesh and other roommates, because they had always served delicious food for him and treated him royally until that shitty phone crash). His tragedy in this room was nothing shorter than living hell behind the bars in the prison cell. The worst thing was happened that day. The girl had thought the half boil was not boiled good enough and registered a complaint with her partner, Shravanth, who was bellowing with atrocity for revenging him in front of his curly wurly darling. Do you guess what he had done to Lawrence? Yes, he had thrown the plate on him, as it flown across the room and hit on his left cheek, there was slice of red mark immediately popped out. ‘Come on darling, why are you having a snobbish fellow like him as a roommate. These are country brutes and don’t even know how to dress. Do you see how the towel was hanging on his shoulder? I don’t know why these fellows are coming here to get the software jobs. He should have trained as a cook to serve in the hotel. But damn it. I never dare to take him as a cook even in my home if he wanted to serve me free,’ the scrawny girl said and made a lofty and freaky laugh. Shravanth too was laughing out sumptuously by holding his hand on her bare upper thighs. Yes, she wore denim shorts and off-shoulder t-shirt. On hearing her accusing comment Lawrnece was stammered and tears were rushing out of his eyes now. ‘Dear I wanted to stay alone with you. I don’t want to see such a rural kid behind us. Just tell him get out of here,’ the scrawny girl suggested at Shravanth. You should have looked at her face that time, she had seen Lawrence as a leprosy fellow, you know. Her face turned into witty snarl and her eyes were scrunching with bitterest growl. ‘Did you hear what she says?’ Shravanth blared at Lawrence, who had felt the series of blows on his face. ‘No, I don’t go. This is my room. I am paying to stay here. Why should I go out?’ Lawrence finally had gathered courage to oppose him. He wanted to knock that flat girl flatly on the ground. His fiery eyes had meant it. No joke, he was really standing like that only. ‘He meant, I should get out of here because I am not paying the rent for this room,” the scrawny girl whimpered with Shravnath, whose altercation grew largely now. He stood up from the bed and scrambled across the room and stretched his long hand to grab Lawrence’s neck like a rat’s tail. But Lawri had shown resistance for a while but a few seconds later he had subdued to his brutal strength because he was lean and deprived of energy. He had cussed for not having the thrumming energy to throw out his betrayed partner. ‘This is not good to throw me out of the room to fuck her. You leave me right now. Don’t drag me like a mule. You stupid, arrogant, dumb ass,” Lawri said as he slapped his both arms on Shravnth. But nothing had stopped him from staying like a dog behind the door, which was slammed to shut now. Lawri was feeling bad and all, because he was hearing the frantic squeal from the girl inside the room. He had a generous heart to mute that cuddling squeal by closing the window tightly. If you would have given him the rum bottle, he would have gurgled down like a pig at the moment, because he was like devadas that time. The coldness in the November month was hurting him very sour, and he was badly in the need of blanket. This poor fellow had slept on the concrete floor the whole night, though he wouldn’t continue his sweet dreams he was having before in the devan cot. You couldn’t do anything with biting misquotes, because they were free warriors lurking anywhere down the streets to ambush at the right time. Yes, when he had slept, the buzz of misquotes was roaring on his dead ears (probably it was enjoying this freaky trip) and sucked tons of blood running under his skin. You might wonder the mosquitos would have put on weight over five kgs in the morning. Definitely chances were there, because Lawrence was toned to the size of that scrawny girl the next morning. And the scrawny girl had put on weight after taking some good blows with Shravanth inside the room on last night. Anyway, when the girl came out of the room, yawning, and pulling off her sleeky hair to bun shape, the sun was rose steadily in the eastern sky and made her face bright and all. But you would never forgive this one incident. This girl had gone out by pressing her both feet on Lawri’s stomach like the fat lorry tyres had ridden over him. That rude touch made Lawri to open his tired eyes against the sun, which was sending some warm rays to him to greet a good morning. He thought that was his tragic fate.

“If you don’t like to stay here, you can stay out. I don’t have any issues. And you can’t stop me bringing girls to this room. You devilish crap,” Shravanth said.

Lawrence had no idea what would happened to him if he had to stay out. He was still living with girly apprehensions to deal with the toughest instances of life. If he had to take room separately it would have cost his whole salary and finally he would have no chance but take a shelter in the platform. God knows what he had to do that would be a perfect bet for him. He also thought if….if…..if Kamesh only had a golden heart to take him into his arms and could pour an ounce of wine into his mouth. But it had been three months since there dissent took place between them. He had once met him in a bar near their room. There Kamesh had still babbled (with Madhan and Gautam) about him as a cheater, but his eyes were misty when he had recalled his one of the close friend. Lawrence had seen him from the corner of the bar and not willing himself to meet them upfront and shake their shoulders. But past is past. You can’t do anything about it. Now, Lawrence wanted to meet these fellows once again and weep his whole heart into their hands. And he wanted to get into peaceful pact by erasing the past ridiculous stuff out of their brains.

“I will go out if time is calling me,” Lawrence said with a dignified tone.

“I have planned to bring a girl today. Would you mind to stay behind the door then?” Shravanth said, as his left eyebrow winged up.

A meaty shudder went down Lawri’s weak spine. Oh God, he feared like anything after the last time’s fiery and gut wrenching incident. He wouldn’t just think of serving the half boils and snacks and getting smacked by his curly wurly girlfriend again. He almost dreaded sleeping down on the concrete floor in the shivering cold nights. Not to say about those blood sucking mosquitoes. There was no option for him than to get out of here now or to sleep like a bitch near the door. He thought the first option was much better than the second to go and haggle with his thick friends. In fact, he had believed they won’t leave him like a dog behind the shoe rack. He knew they can at least give a small space to snuggle inside the room, though he mayn’t find devan cot or anything over there. Definitely he would find a straw mat to slouch like a small kid. He thought that sounded great in his mind.

“I am going to pack my things buddy. I don’t like stay here anymore. You bring here any voluptuous girl you would like to hang up, but I don’t have any problem now onwards,” Lawrence said with a surreal voice. In fact, his eyes dared to put a daunting challenge. Shravanth was aghast on hearing his mighty and pounding words. He had never expected he would speak like this. He always thought he was a coward to get out of this room, yes, like a dormant domestic servant if you ask him.

Lawri sprang to pack up his things ready and slammed shut the door behind him.

*

It was midnight when Lawri had wobbled across the stairs to climb into his old room. On seeing this room from outside, his mind had swirled with the whooping past memories. The way his friends had chased after him down the stairs into the street, when he had done a silly mistake. And going to the top floor to have a big puff with a single Marlboro cigar, which was shared by everyone. Fighting to snatch a sweet box after their parents had visited to the room. Giving slight punches on the shoulders after having mocking conversations. Quarreling to change the channels and watching IPL matches with beer bottles in defense. Every roar of interesting conversation he had with them had hunched on his ears now. These memories were the precious things of his life he had earned so far. He didn’t want to miss them even for a micro second right now. His heart was like steel and couldn’t know how his friends were going to treat him once he knocked on the door. The exhilaration and anticipation was huge on him now. He removed his slippers behind the shoe rack, which was empty but the shoes and sandals were littered in front of the door. He cleared a thick lump down his throat and rammed on the door twice. There were million thoughts running on his head now. What would be the immediate reaction if Kamesh had seen me? Would he threw my bag away and kick me in the ass? Or would he shut the door firmly behind me? Or charge over me with a tight fisting?

There was no one to open the door, because the three of them were snorting like pigs while sleeping on the straw mat. His peppy knocks on the door was not enough to uproot them from their cozy dreams or whatever. Kamesh was sprawled his legs and arms and slept like a clown in the room. Lawri had steeled some force now to ram the door again. But there was no churnings from inside. Now he had kicked the door continuously as the neighborhood aunty came rushing to the spot. She was sleeping with her kids until now, you could see her hair was messy and the folds of her sari were creased.

On seeing him, her face was blossomed, “Hey Lawri baby, where you went all the time by leaving us and your friends. You didn’t even tell us you are leaving us. I was asking that big fatty fellow Kamesh, but he didn’t tell me anything at all. And finally Gautam told me that you had a big fight with that big fellow, eh?”

Lawrence was blushed to answer her, because he thought she would never ask him such embarrassing question. What you would say to them if you had been maliciously sent out of the room? He had to say nothing but looked at her with a sheepish grin. She smiled too and greeted him to come back. “Okay, now I believe you never leave us alone.” He flashed that imbecile grin again. She went to her bed room after cocking her thumb finger for his sheer victory over Kamesh in minutes to come.

Now he had started raining the pounds on the door again. For his surprise the door handle was clicked softly from inside. Guess who? Yes, that big fella Kamesh was standing upfront with his sheepish eyes and flailing legs. He woke up because he wanted to go for loo now, his crotch was pushing the salty liquid to his mouth and he couldn’t close his eyes anymore and his honeymoon sleep was disturbed suddenly and he was here right now. That was his weakness to wake up for peeing at the midnight. He had fainting memories about this when he was in a small age. Her mother would always made him to drink a liter of water before getting into sleep, and tell him that it will help him to get reduce his fatness. God knows if it had helped him. But he had always wake up in the middle of night holding his crotch bulged and woke up his mother to come along with him because he always was brought up with an idea that ghosts were always roaming in the streets at nights to catch a little fellows who were alone there. His mother would always hold her hand on his shoulders while he was doing his mid night task under the drumstick tree, which had grown up large because of his serving of salty water. It was intelligent enough to grow big and yield copious drumsticks for them every week.

“You….you…..you…..” Kamesh was stammered while looking at him.

“I…..I….I…..” Lawri said in a convulsive tone, as if he was learning ABCD in the preschool.

Kamesh had wiped his face to check if he was dreaming or something, no, it’s not a dream, he had concluded after having checked his misty eyes. He was not crying but his lips were quivering terribly like he was standing in the knee deep snow. His hands were coming forward and pulling back in hesitation, he didn’t know if he should embrace him before calling him inside. His mind was in a hysterical state and didn’t know what to do. He almost embarrassed to see him again, because he was the main reason why Lawri had exited from this room. That thought had deeply embossed in his heart.

“Kami, don’t you call me inside? You still won’t forgive me, eh?” Lawri said, he already held his bag in his hand to go inside, but Kami was blocking him completely without knowing that he was blocking his entry into the room.

“Hah, no, you….you….can come and go at any time, this is your room,” Kami was still stuttering like a finger sucking baby. You should have seen his face; you simply can’t postpone your desire to take a selfie with him. His reaction and emotional outburst was even mightier than the real actors in the cine industry.

With that gate pass, Lawri had plonked his bag inside the room. Madhan and Gautam had already waked up and watching their stimulating and overwhelming interaction with their befuddled eyes.

“We were expecting you from the day you had gone, you know,” Madhan said and winked at him, “This fat fellow always said things about you all the time, he is that and he is this. His nonsense chatter was getting bigger and bigger over the past one month.”

Lawri’s mouth twitched as he looked at Kamesh, who wasn’t yet come out of his hysterical senses. A moment Lawri felt a heavy guiltiness stored in his heart, because he had behaved brutally with his friend by blasting his pet phone. This scene was turning around so dramatic and you couldn’t help take off your eyes from them.

Lawri looked at everyone with keen and alert eyes as if he was seeing them for the first time. In fact, he had noticed three grey hairs in Madhan’s skull and one extra black mole in Gautam’s cheeks. Not to mention that Kamesh had sacrificed his hair in the name of God after receiving his first job as a system analyst in the BPO office. Lawri became an uncontrollable freak after seeing this transformation taking place in them. He was suddenly plunged into emotional fit as hugged everyone like his girlfriend or something. A tear leaked through his left eye (right eye didn’t respond, he had no reason why) and he licked it through his tongue and it was tasted like raw salt in the sea water. And finally they settled down at the cozy straw mat. Their eyes were fully opened and sleepless. In fact, they looked so vibrant and energetic as if they didn’t feel like sleeping in the next 48 hrs.

“I couldn’t still believe I would come to this room, because I thought you three will never forgive me,” Lawri had cried out his heart with them again. His eyes darted towards Kamesh to observe his reaction which was vital for him as of now.

“C’mon Lawri, that was a trivial thing. I didn’t thought that phone matter would burst like an atom bomb,” Madhan said, his both hands went wider in the air as he depicted his stance on this crucial matter.

“But I had feared that some wristy fight would happen that time, I thought Kami was going to rip off your innards just like eagle does on its prey,” Gautam said with fully opened eyes. His narration was exemplary and mightier than what Madhan had concluded.

Lawri had listened those things with amused eyes and laughing inward and expectantly waiting Kami to say something about this like a boy would court a girl for the first time. There was nothing vulgar about this, but it was an awkward experience on seeing his close friend after three months of long gap. The friendly and mutual understanding between them was slackened a bit, but it was still there. Only thing was it had to be re-established with a clenched heart like plugging the charger into the outlet. That was what still not happening with them right now.

“No, I was too terrified after leaving you guys. The moment I was stepped out of the room I thought I did a wrong thing, you know. I was wished that time, that this fat fellow would come and collect my baggage from my hand, but he didn’t do. And I wasn’t not left with much options either too. So I had to finally end up with staying in Shravanth room,” Lawrence said. He was still looking for Kamesh to get into emotional plunge, but it was still not happening at the moment, so he was dissatisfied with the effort he was making tirelessly now. He wanted Kamesh to open his mouth and let dissolve all the clumsy bad things swirling around them to break their separation. C’mon Kami, let’s speak with your friend, no? We are all waiting for your warm response. Can you do that for us?

“But I didn’t feel like grabbing you inside. The way you have punched on my nose, I didn’t have a noble heart to forgive you at that time. In fact, I had wished to break your elbows, you know,” Kami said as grinned ecstatically before his friends. He was so happy that he had met his friend back again in the same room. He had never expected this would happen suddenly and within three months. He thought the friendship was broken badly and couldn’t be repaired. But that doesn’t mean he had to stay reserved and couldn’t crack the witty jokes before his old friend.

“Huh, then it was a good decision for me leaving out of this room, eh?” Lawrence was afraid again. A second he wondered if Kami was still the same and not forgiven him yet. No, he was wrong.

Everyone laughed out after a long time. Their financial struggle over the past few months was drained out of their heads now. In fact, it was worsen after Lawrence had left them. He had contributed something to lift them up when he was going to the office while staying in the room.

“Shall we have a drink? It’s been months since we had together,” Madhan said, he already stood up to pick up the two Budweiser beers he had stacked inside the kitchen. It was a safety stock, to avert the storming sensations.

“So, what happened with your roommate?” Gautam asked sarcastically. He was pecking the mixture in the paper cover.

“Man, he is a rogue and I can’t imagine I stayed with him for three months. It was impossible and I was so stupid for deciding to stay with him, it was the worst decision I have taken so far in my life,” Lawrence said.

“Is it? What he had done that made you to speak like this,” Kamesh was curious to know about his escapades with his roommate.

Madhan had brought the beers in his both hands like he had fished out the trout with baits and placed it on the floor. He poured it into one plastic glass as the foams rippled on the rim of it. He particularly gave it to Lawrence, who was melted by this generous spirit. Oh, God he was crying to hold this glass. There was no doubt he had missed such trivial pleasures completely with the ruthless roommate he had earlier. Though it sounds bit hard to exhilarate on these things, it couldn’t be denied either.

“I don’t want to talk about that clown now. It is only going to irritate me,” Lawrence said and no one had pushed him now. He then looked at Kamesh and said, “So what are you guys are doing now? I couldn’t know what’s going on in this room. Anyone got a job or not?”

“Don’t show off man,” Madhan said in a flourishing voice, “we have one guy who is taking care of us now. Guess who?”

This question had stupefied Lawrence. He couldn’t think of Kamesh going to office and letting them free of financial burden. This thought had never flashed into his mind. He could only think about Gautam who was putting a toilsome effort to pull the job, though he was lacking in English.

“Gautam?” Lawrence said. An unexpected and teasing punch came on his shoulder from Kamesh, immediately. He had rounded his arm around his neck and strangled him for not saying his name. Lawrence had fought hard to wriggle free himself from his hand.

Madhan smiled on seeing them cuddling or fighting. He believed they won’t end up in terrible fighting once more, “It is Kamesh, he is working in nightshift in BPO to let us free from all hurdles and struggles,” he beamed splendidly at Kami.

“Is it? I can’t believe this,” Lawrence was exaggeratedly happy and quite astounded on hearing this, his eyes locked at Kamesh, “Oh bravado, you owe a great treat man.”

“What about this? You are drinking my money only man,” Kamesh said, he rubbed over his shaved head, “you see I had even lost my hair after earning this job.”

Lawrence drummed his fingers on his head before Kami withdrew with an indignant blushing, “So what you two guys are doing now?”

“We are doing Java course man,” Gautam said.

Lawrence face squirmed in a snarl after hearing this, “Why do you do this? I think it’s unnecessary for you. You should have only honed your English skills to grab an offer,” he was looking at them over the sip of his glass.

“We are short of time, I think you have forgot the fact that it’s been going to be one year after two months since we had come out of our college campus,” Madhan reminded him. A hollow silence ensued in this place for a few seconds.

Lawrence rubbed his forehead with his left hand and said, “Yeah, I have forgotten about it. Now onwards it’s going to be a tough fight for you guys once the next batch freshers coming and spilling in this city. Eventually you couldn’t stop that flow. There will be thousands of lakhs of students would battle it out in this city to pursue their jobs.”

“You know one thing,” Madhan said in a low voice, “Gautam had to sell his mother’s rings to study this course. We don’t even know if we will get a job for sure once we finish this course.”

This conversation was getting into emotional gear and everyone was plunged into the pit of anxious future ahead of them.

“But you don’t worry about the outcome. Let your heart and soul into studying this course. Learn as much as possible. Who knows you might end up with a great job in a great company,” Lawrence said in a philosophical note. He knew he was speaking beyond his ability and strength, but he had to. He thought he had to do something for his friends to earn the job. He was aware that time was running out and they had to show something on behalf of themselves to their families. He knew what bitterest struggles he had gone through while searching for a job. A huge responsibility is lying on our shoulders when we are seriously looking for a job in a short time. But that responsibility should not hamper our peace, otherwise success would always elude us.

“Yeah, I understood. We should try hard from now onwards. We have to control our ruthless gossip for some time to shine in the future,” Gautam said in a clenched tone. The pressure was slowly building up in him. He had sold his mother’s wedding ring to study this course. It was his mother’s dream that he had to sit in an AC cubicle and punching on the keyboard as a software engineer. This wrenching thought was biting at him every day now, as he headed to the coaching center. He was frightening about Reshmi too, because she was slowly climbing up the ladder in her passionate job as a dancer. She had already done a coffee add and it was getting a nationwide attention. Her dance steps were getting viral attraction in the social media sites, and her movements were praised by many. Would she accept a jobless fellow like him as her boyfriend once she become a choreographer or actress? We don't know what is going to happen in the future. God knows what she was thinking about him right now. Yes, girls can’t tell everything in front of boys. Something they can’t share lifelong or they don’t dare to share at all. He only prayed she won’t deny him because he was a jobless or aimless fellow, though he was eager to hold a job. At least Kamesh was in a better position compare to him now, because he was going to office and feeling somewhat confident about himself. The worst thing while staying alone in the room ideally is that your confident level would be dropped enormously (if we do something worth that is different matter). He had noticed it after Kamesh was not staying in the room to chat with them. He felt like the troubles were flying across from every corner to attack him.

*

Chapter 14: cooking Java

“This is one of the finest institutes in the country, you get placed just like that,” Viswanath, the director of the WE WILL MAKE YOU DIAMONDS institute said by snapping his fingers, he was standing in the small podium and facing the exhilarated students in front of him. In fact, the podium was nothing but a small erected cement floor behind the green board. The faces of the students were festooned like twilight of the stars when they had heard his impressive speech on getting placed. Particularly, Madhan and Gautam were pouring out overwhelming enthusiasm as their eyes glued at the director. They couldn’t hide their anticipation and excitement because the way the director boasted was phenomenal and fascinating.

“You see, we are going to definitely get a job before we finish the course here,” Madhan mumbled in a low voice to Gautam. Yes, he was the mastermind behind on preparing him to join this jaw dropping institute in Koramangala. Gautam was so impressed when he had guided him to join here. Madhan couldn’t just hide his excitement when his friend had told him that this institute had given extraordinary lives to many students. That was the prima facie for their enthralling journey here.

“Of course, I could see it in the director’s eyes,” Gautam had clapped vigorously, like a school kid. The entire room had roared in clapping. There were about hundred students had enrolled their names under this course. A lot of students were looked like they had married and got children in their baskets, no joking, because they all had plentiful beard drooping down from their chins. Their mopping hair was falling all around their faces, looked like they were competing each other in breeding the abundance of hair. But everyone had one common charisma with them. Guess what? Yes, the somber and anxiety lurking inside their souls because they weren’t sure when they were going to receive their jobs.

Gautam and Madhan both had sat together in a fifth row from the beginning. The long wooden chairs (three members can sit down) were laid in front of their elevated tables, there were about three narrow aisles to go inside and scrutinize the students.

“This is not an institute, but you consider it as a company to fulfill your dreams. I mean you are the employers and we are the employees,” the director said in a loud voice, as the intensity of the clapping in the room was suddenly enlarged and the students were crying out their hearts unto him now. Because, the director had called them employers which meant they were raised as masters and no more slaves for anyone. Some students started shedding tears too. Why not? They believed their dreams were going to be true here.

“Okay, I am leaving this to Mr. Ranga who will be taking care of this special course to make you an enriched soul in the world,” the director said as he had departed from the stage in the midst of thunderous claps again.

The class became silent. Ranga had stood behind the board and locked his eyes at the students (a kind of bird eye view) and stroked his big nose with his middle finger. He looked short, had a solid face with a few wrinkles spilled here and there, his mouth was protruded, and had a trunk like neck.

“For me discipline is very important,” he said and sneezed out at the front of girls (one girl had fainted immediately), he ran his right hand to wipe off his mouth and continued, “So I expect the same thing from you guys. Understood?”

“YYYYYEEEEESSSSS, SIR,” the students roared in chorus. Madhan had stood up from his seat to say this, and it shows how much he had respected his trainer. Gautam had a feeling in this gigantic outburst that he had already got a job in the top MNC.

“Okay, let’s begin the class now,” Ranga said as he stood in front of the elevated laptop table and started typing on it something, typically a simple program. Whatever he had written over there was flashed on the projector (fixed in the white wall) in black letters.

Madhan had necked forward to get a glimpse of this program. He had knocked his hand on the left side of his head to remember what this program was about. He knew he had seen or written this program earlier at least five hundred times but couldn’t recall it exactly.

“I wanted to check your caliber before we are heading to the Java. Actually I have a written a simple program here, can anyone tell what is the purpose of this program?” Ranga said, looking at the boys in front.

Everyone had raised their hands to show off, but Madhan was biting at his head. He couldn’t remember what this fucking program was about. On the other side Gautam had raised his hand, and presumably he had known this program. Madhan was pressing his hand on Gautam’s lap to let know what this program all about. Gautam had muttered in a low voice, but Madhan was in no state of receiving with his faint brain. Ranga, the trainer, had noticed this and was impressed to call him out now.

“Hey, you that pink shirt guy, stand up and tell me,” Ranga asked, pointing his finger at Madhan, who was fighting hard to hide himself but it was no use. This was one of the embarrassing situations any student would face in his life, when he couldn’t know the answer to the question posed by the teacher. Not to say that if the question was too simple the embarrassment was heavier than they would imagine. The first worst fear Madhan had confronted was if there were girls in the class room, surprisingly there were no more than five of them, and it was a soothing relaxation for him. And additional bonus for him was that the girls were below average to Reshmi. These many thoughts were flowing in his mind which was supposed to think about the program now. Do you agree or not? But that’s all about Madhan, who would think unnecessarily in the wrong places, it defines his character or justifies it.

“It is…it is…..” Madhan was stammering badly, the class was started chuckling on him.

“What it is? That’s what my question,” Ranga clarified if he didn’t know what he was talking about.

“It is…” Madhan had almost raked his brain but it had cheated him without throwing any answer, “I don’t know sir.” He confessed finally. But you should have a great strength to confess that you don’t know. Don’t you think so?

“If you don’t know this basic program, who is going to give a job for you?” Ranga made a point here. He whisked his hand at him and asked him to sit down.

“I couldn’t understand why people are aspiring to become software engineers if they couldn’t able to do some simple programs. I feel let down by these upcoming engineers,” Rang ranted at students.

Madhan covered his face with his hand and ducked down his head in sheer embarrassment. He thought of hanging down from the ceiling fan upon hearing the trainer’s pricking comment.

“You….the next one….” Ranga pointed his finger at Gautam, who had tried to avert his glance over him. He knew what this program about, but he feared to explain it. You know, his English was horrible and he didn’t dare to throw himself in the middle of mass people.

“This is a palindrome program,” Gautam said in a struggling tone. Though he was confident about the program, he had doubted his capability on explaining it. This program would assure that number or word or sentence read from backwards is same as read from the front.

The master didn’t acknowledge his answer, but asked him to explain the program. There started a real trouble. Gautam had wished to run out of the room now. He felt the cowardliness was swooping over him. He had never felt relaxed to tell anything in English, the fear of speaking in front of everyone was insurmountable and huge. Worst, the trainer was glaring at him like Hitler. In fact, he had thought that he made a wrong decision by joining here.

“What are you thinking? Go ahead and tell me about this program?” Ranga boomed now.

Marble size sweat beads popped out of his forehead now. A thick lump formed in his throat and he had cleared it hastily. He opened his mouth but the air was coming out as if the words had been swallowed. He felt like his head was spinning like a roller coaster now, there was no clarity on what to speak and how to initiate. You could see he was fumbling out there, as his toes were digging at the floor. He was uncomfortable and so wrecked now, to speak anything in English. Finally he blabbered like two year kids who try to speak first time.

“This is so awkward and embarrassing to see the students like this in my class room, I don’t know what to say. See all,” the trainer had stared at the students, “he had finished his engineering degree and still fumbling to speak out a few sentences in English. How do I know if he even understands what I am speaking? In that case, it is impossible to make him learn the Java even if he stays for years and years. If you have to receive something from others, first you should be in a position to receive, otherwise how can it possible?” Ranga said. He ran his hand over his head to spill out his remnants of hairs. The grey hairs were so strong in numbers than the black ones.

Gautam had sat down. Madhan had pressed his hand on his lap. Gautam had completely felt naked in the class room and couldn’t show his face up to the students, he just waited to disappear from this room, that’s all he wanted now. This was the worst situation he had in his life so far. The whole class was looking at him now as if he was spreading out the epidemic virus in others. Not to say that his embarrassment was huge and blistering. He thought he was useless and scurvy fellow in the world. He couldn’t see his future at all. Thousands of questions were looming around his head like bed bugs sucking his blood.

Ranga blew an air out of his nostrils, and turned his head sideways in dejection before he looked at the students. He always considered the students were worthless when they couldn’t communicate with proper English. For him it made a brand price about every student. If a student is struggling to speak, then he would consider his market price was low and the person was rotten and useless. It was no matter if he had strong technical skills for that matter. The funny part was, after all, the English language wasn’t his mother tongue, but still he had given the most preference to it and adored it like a queen. You could learn any language in this world, you be can be a genius in lashing out your tongue in foreign language, but this glamorous act shouldn’t force you to demoralize your mother tongue. That’s pretty important to keep ourselves intact and united. If we are don’t even respect our language, then who are going to respect us. We shouldn’t disrespect who are lagging in English too, because we didn’t know the circumstance on which they had brought up. Don’t you think it has decent appeal?

“We shouldn’t have joined this crappy institute, see he is degrading us,” Madhan muttered in a thin voice into Gautam’s ears.

“Anyway, we begin the actual classes from tomorrow morning, now let me distribute the material to everyone,” the trainer said, as he had picked handful of spiral bind paper books from the table and given to the first row students. It was then distributed to everyone.

“What should we do with this sir?” a boy asked, he was looking taller, thinner, had a glossy spectacle and long curly hair.

“Hah,” Ranga scratched his beard malignantly and said, “prepare paper boats and sail it on rain water,” the whole class giggled, “I want you to study the first two chapters before coming to the class the next day.”

“If I have to study it myself, then why should I join in this institute,” Madhan said to Gautam and giggled secretly. He was damn fucked up when he knew that he hadn’t cupped his mouth while showing his greasy teeth. Ranga had seen him as his jaw jounced up and down precariously, which meant he was infuriated and inflicted badly.

“Are you wanted to get out of the class room or what?” Ranga said, his eyebrow cocked up while he meted out Madahn. He threw a material at his face, with a soft thud it was landed on his desk safely. Madhan’s sour face had confirmed that he wanted to extricate from here immediately. The first day itself was going crazy and he didn’t know if he would be able to withstand for next two months. If he had paid his father’s money to study this course, he would have jumped out of this institute’s compound in this moment itself. But, the money for this course was paid by Gautam, that’s what irking him to stay his butt on the desk. Also his thought that it was his mother’s ring which had made him study, had roughly added more pain to his worry. He wanted to get a job quickly which was fixed in memory, but none of his senses were being good at the moment to make his wildest dream to come true.

“No, sir,” Madhan said in an awkward voice, his face was sagging down.

“Then don’t do cross-talking. If you wanted to get a job, you have to follow my instructions carefully,” Ranga said as he lifted up his shoe feet and clanked on the floor with a heavy thud like an army officer. His whiskers on the sides went high and shaking. Then with a few tidbits the class ended in a screeching note. Madhan and Gautam had felt a deep relief when they had come out.

*

Gautam had received a letter from her sister one evening. It made him feel good to hold the letter in his hand. For one thing, that it had eased the heavy burden carried in his heart. It made him forgot the pain of rigorous classes he was making for a last couple of weeks. He had a wonderful relationship with her sister in younger days. He wouldn’t forget any of them, because it was deeply clinging to his soul. The first memory of his sister was when he had taught her how to swim in the pool in his village, he was doing seventh grade at that time, and she was probably doing third or fourth grade. It was a rainy season when he had taught her about learning this skill. He had learnt swimming in the same pool, but there was always a talk in their village that there was a big crocodile was swimming in the deep water and waiting for the humans to attack and eat them alive. But Gautam had always thought it was a mere fun provoked at the fellow person who wanted to swim, also he had never seen a crocodile in the pool whenever he swam in it, not even the flicking of it’s tail. So, one evening he had took her sister to the swimming pool to teach her, the cloud was moody that time and the sun was coming in and out of the thick clouds all the evening, but there was a chance of slow drizzles to take over. There were hardly three members taking shower at the opposite bank, and they were enjoying their shower after their hard labor done for the day in brick kiln. Gautam had asked her sister to get inside, but she was afraid to put her both legs inside the pool (not because she knew they were crocodiles). Her brother had to drive in hard to get her drenched in the pool fully. The water was warm and greyish white, leafless and clear. He held her stomach and asked her to flap her legs and arms without worrying about drowning. She couldn’t do it and had to swallow more water before she gave up. ‘Brother it’s very difficult and I couldn’t breath also,’ she said gasping. ‘I told you know, it is very tough to learn swimming at first, but you only forced me to teach you,’ Gautam said, smiling thinly. ‘No, I won’t give up, let’s go further deep to learn. Here I feel like not swimming,’ she said and they departed further down. Here the water came to her face level. Her brother again did the same by holding her stomach and asked her to flap her legs. This learning went for a few minutes with her soft giggles and her brother’s funny chat with her. For their surprise, the clouds were suddenly covered and darkness loomed in this place. And all of a sudden, thunderstorm was broke down. The rain was started slapping on the earth in a furious way. Out of the blue, a rough tail was flicked on the surface of the water, making the water to ripple, and then it was ducked low and hidden. The brother and sister didn’t know all of this, and they had enjoyed their show with the rain, because she was swaying her legs harder now and in a good position to learn the swimming. Suddenly, the ripples in the surface were growing larger, and Gautam had turned his face to look out what was happening. Boom! Boom! The crocodile was lurching forward as its large jagged face was revealed and it’s huge brownish tongue was shaking inside the mouth, the big crooked teeth were waiting to tear down something. Before Gautam had pulled her daughter, the crocodile had tasted her one leg. Immediately the blood had soaked in the water and smeared it with red. His sister was screeching bitterly now after having had lost of her leg. Gautam had pulled a log beside him in the water and hurtled it on its face which turned aside. In the end, he had saved his sister though she had to lose her leg in this battle. It was the first and last she had gone into the water and her dream of swimming was never again meted out.

He was both anxious and happy to read this letter.

Dear brother,

I, mother, and father are doing well in our home. I hope you are doing well as well. Mother told me that you are feeling sick and worried because you didn’t have a job yet. Don’t worry brother. You will receive a job in a month or so. I felt like seeing you when she told me that our father had scolded you of not studying well enough to earn a good job. But this one legged woman couldn’t travel thus far, you know. Can you forgive me my dear brother? Okay, I don’t want to make you feel sad to read this letter. Okay, let me tell you that our Rakul had gave birth to six puppies, all are cuddly and bubbly. Are you feeling good now? Do you remember how we had fought each other to give a name for it? Finally, I had won. I ask you sorry now for making you unhappy that time. You know, I have been busy for the whole week on spending time with these soft puppies. You would be impressed if I say I had finished my Bsc degree with first class. But, I feel sad because this Ranjani had scored two marks better than me in the accounts subject. I am also trying to send resumes to companies. Do you think, the legless girl like me would get a job? I don’t know brother. But I feel lonely sometimes without you. I am missing all the fight between you and me. C’mon my brother, you should have some healthy fight with me. Never think I am going to lose because I am not stronger. Now, I am started eating four chapthis in nights you know (just to beat you downJJ).

Gautam had clasped the letter tighter as he struggled to read more, because the warm tears were streaking down from his cheeks already. He couldn’t carryon reading it. He just wanted to fold it and read later on, because the emotional thunderstorm was banging him vigorously now. He breathed hard and for a moment he had fought hard himself whether to read this letter or not. With a heavy and somberly heart he had started reading it again.

Don’t tell this to our parents. Two boys had looked at me while I had gone to the browsing café in our town. They had whistled at me, but I hadn’t looked at them fully. Not that I am disappointed but I was wondering how could these two boys had found me better than other good looking girls down there. Don’t you think so? C’mon now tell me do you fall in love with any girl? I wanted to see my future sister-in-law. I know you have one because you have stopped writing letters to me for last four months. Am I right, my dear stupid brother?

With lots of love and grace,

Your lovely sister,

Parvathi

The tears were still rushing out of his eyes as he swabbed it with his sleeve of the shirt. He didn’t know, but he was feeling overweighed in his heart. His soul was crying too. Whatever his father had told him was crashing past his mind now. He could feel and realize why his father had scolded him bitterly that time. After all, he wanted to make her daughter marry a good fellow, though it was a cumbersome task to find anyone for his one legless daughter. How can this society going to accept her as a bride? If someone was noble enough to marry her, would this relationship last longer? He doubted. Even the love marriages are getting into divorce after a few years, bitterly. The first time, Gautam had run these thoughts in his mind. He was feeling the same feelings his father had once and he started thinking from his perspective now, which made him conclude that his father was right at that time when he had shown a bitter attitude with him for not getting a job yet. It was crucial for his father to make sure his son earning money, because other things were pipelined based on his earnings. His father’s income was spent on his studies without looking for any savings in the banks. He wanted his son to have a good job and save his family. There was nothing wrong with it. After all, it was one form affection shown to his son to make him a successful person in this society. His father had spent most of the money to take care of the family on his shoulders. He took that responsibility and quietly discharged it with his own ability. What else a father can do than this? His father had studied upto tenth class and couldn’t able to continue his studies because of some financial issues which threatened him to discontinue from his higher studies. He was lucky to have a job in the transport corporation that time, though he wouldn’t earn pocket full of money. But it was a decent job and it had helped his son and daughter to pursue degrees with all the hard work he had done so far for the past thirty years or so. Now, it was Gautam’s turn to take care of his burden, at least reduce it to half because the physical vigor and strength to steer the family was slackened with his father with the growing age. That was expected, you can’t blame nature for that. It was doing that job seamlessly without hassle. But what was Gautam going to do for his family in return to what his father had done for him. That was the big question he had to ask himself. It might sound bitter to him but he couldn’t avoid this completely either.

Young age was getting fade away quickly. The responsibility was slowly getting fallen on his shoulders. Gautam had to realize it himself now. Would he realize?

*

Chapter 15: Augmenting problems

GAUTAM AND RESHMI HAD met in park for the first time. It was their dating time. Yeah, only to retch the problems of their life. It was pleasant evening and warm sunlight was splashing with orange tint. The soft breeze was slowly rustling the leaves in the trees.

“Hmm, how is going your classes?” Reshmi asked. She was looking stunning in her pink top and blue jeans. Her half-sleeves had puffed pleats at the end, and it had created a polished look.

“Not bad, but it is tough at the moment,” Gautam said. There was no emotion at all in his face, and it was completely blank in spite of his being with Reshmi. He was no more cheering her, because he had so many things going in and around his mind now. Actually he didn’t ask her to meet but she only did. It was more than a month since they had met each other, whenever she had called him he was trying to evade from her call saying I have to study and didn’t have a time to talk. The guiltiness of being jobless was strong and mightier than he had earlier. After reading her sister’s letter he was totally out of control, which meant he was struggling with life to make good decisions, and didn’t know if he was doing things right at the moment.

“What happened?” Reshmi said, her hand was nudged at his elbow. There was a soft concern in her eyes. She could feel what he was thinking at this moment. His eyes were dull and thudding with low energy. There was heaviness in his heart that should be eradicated to make him calm and serene. She didn’t know how? As his girlfriend she had to do something to make him feel better.

Gautam for a second thought if he could share what was weighing heavily in his heart now. He thought there was no way of killing his emotional turbulence than to share his misery with Reshmi and feel that relaxing touch from hers. There was no doubt that she was good at easing his troubles. Without hesitation, he pulled a letter from his shirt packet and handed it to Reshmi and beckoned his head somberly at her.

Reshmi’s heart pulse raced like race course horse while she started reading the letter. Numerous awkward thoughts had spun around her head when she had clutched the letter in her hands. Her lean fingers were shivered slightly. Does he want to stay away from me because I was disturbing him? Doesn’t he like the way I behaved with his parents? Is he proposing me to break the relationship because I am meandering in my profession? She thought. But she knew that she was thinking silly at the moment. None of the statements had the virility to claim her thoughts as true. As she read the letter, her eyes were moistened immediately on knowing his sister had lost her leg in a whooping tragedy. The way his sister wrote the letter was so close to her heart and she could feel everything she had put in the paper. Her heart ached to see his sister now.

“Oh, goodness, this is unbearable to know your sister had lost a leg,” Reshmi said, the paper was rifling along with a gust of wind. The wind was slowly racing now. Her hair was ruffled in front of her forehead as she nudged her fingers to pull it back. Fresh tears clung to her eyes now.

“I need to save her life. As a brother I should at least do this. I haven’t done anything for her until now,” Gautam said, as turbulent emotions crept over his face. There is no need to describe that he was merely collapsing himself. His voice was thinned and wearied. The more he tried to re-coup himself, the more he felt irresponsible and rogue. The augmenting problems surface again and again in his mind like winter clouds.

“Don’t worry dear, if you get a job you will be all right and you can do anything to your sister then,” Reshmi said and held his hand in hers, “See, this life is only not about the money. You can earn money anytime if you want. But life is more than what you think of. It has to be live with affection and love. Each second is precious than the gold or platinum, you should try enjoy yourself with whatever you have at the moment. Show some admiration or gratitude for whatever you have until now. That’s very important to lead a healthy life. It may sound cliché to you, but the truth is always simple and straight. I just wanted to tell you this because I love you so much and I don’t want to see you worrying about these things for a long time. It just makes your life immovable and threatening. So drop all the sufferings laid on your shoulders now,” she finished with a thin eye flicks. She thought good about what she had said now. Though she wasn’t in a position to give an advice for him, she felt it was fulfilling. The main reason she had hesitated for a few seconds on giving him a good advice was that she had been not stable in her profession at all. She had to withdraw from her software company to climb her passion. It might sound terrific that she had got a breakthrough in the advertisement, but the real problem was that she had to fight out hard to earn even five thousand bucks per month in this field. It was not an easy journey to imagine, and she had to go far to accomplish her goals buried in her brain.

“But I am not sure if I am going to get a job after doing this course too,” Gautam said. Boy, he was really had seemed lost his courage, and didn’t know how to go about taking the challenges thrown by the life. The fear was immense in him at the moment. He couldn’t concentrate on his studies as days getting rolling in a brisk and fast phase. He let the negative thoughts fill in his mind while confronting the unknown future. For him, the future was full of black and gloomy and grave. He felt he was going to be trapped in the future and never get released. His Java course was utter failure for him. He wasn’t shining his software skills for the last few weeks. He had abandoned attending two interviews because he had lost that fighting spirit and let down himself. He thought he was going to lose the battle anyway. But, it had been his nourishing dream over the past few years about getting a job in a MNC in Bangalore. That’s why he had come this far with full of floating dreams. But the path he was journeying didn’t seem like the best he was doing as of now. He doubted and criticized himself for taking this course. He was completely blank and subdued by the things happening around him. You are a stupid and gawky fellow for not doing well in the course, he had cursed himself one day in the bathroom. The pressure was mounting up on his head in the last few weeks because nothing was turning into his side.

“You don’t lose your faith Gautam, God will show you a way to lead yourself. I think you have to do this course. You shouldn’t worry much about what is happening around you. I think you are taking too much pressure yourself. Let free yourself first and concentrate on your studies. Focus fully and don’t drift your thoughts on other things. That’s very important to claim a job in a reputed company. Though it might sound ridiculous that I am offering an advice, you should heed my voice some time. Don’t you think so?” Reshmi said, her sweet eyes were locked at his. She was enjoying her ride on giving some mighty suggestions for her boyfriend. She had never done this thing before, but she was so happy that she was doing something good for him. The most important thing for her was to let him be himself without too much worries clinging in his mind and soul. That was the way to prepare oneself, she had believed firmly in this statement.

“But nothing seems going on my way. See how long I have been trying to get a job, but still I haven’t even get a single opportunity to serve in any company out there,” Gautam went in a roar this time. His buried feelings were busting out in clouds now.

“Don’t hurry up Gautam. Things will fall on your feet if you have toned your ability to earn the job. I mean, you are lacking in something and that’s why you are still struggling to get one,” Reshmi said convincingly, as pressed her fingers on his arm.

“Yeah, I am poor in English. For God’s sake is there a way to improve it. I am dying day and night to speak in English, but this language is sucking….always….” Gautam said, as hit his feet on the ground and let the green bush crush under his foot. The bush had dead that moment as if it had caught under the death knell. The impact was strong and furious, like Gautam’s mood. He was trying hard to speak in English but he wasn’t putting this effort orally that was a disappointing thing he had done so far. It was a simple logic to learn English, but he had missed throughout his college life and here too (in the room) on lashing his tongue to work magic for him. If you had asked him why you didn’t have tried to speak, he would have come up with dozens of freaky opinions on this question. But he won’t agree that he was wasting his time by not speaking in English (at least half hour in a day) with his friends. He had tried once when he had drunk, hollering in butler English with Kamesh, who took a job of commentator while talking with him as if he was a cricket critic or something. That was a fun moment but nothing had yielded to him so far. Then he had to drop that idea. Whenever he tried to speak without booze he felt awkward (even coward too). He knew very well that if he had shone his English language he would definitely gain the momentum (sometimes luck too) on landing with a job.

“I don’t know what to say. You are talking like a kid to me. Let me tell you one thing. I hope it may help you at all,” Reshmi said and poured out a little smile, “did you ever worked very hard to speak in your mother tongue?”

Gautam thought this question was irrelevant and drifting from his goal, but he felt he had to answer her, so he said, “No.”

“Then why did you work so hard in learning English. It’s only your mindset, that’s what making it too difficult for you to learn things up. You are always telling me you couldn’t speak….couldn’t speak. So, what would be the outcome of it? Of course, you can’t speak well. You have to change the software in your mind first. What I suggest you is to speak normally without any hard battle with your tongue. And for God’s sake, don’t think that you are not good enough to speak in English, that’s very important,” she said as ran her fingers over his head and tussled with his hair. She felt that she was being good to him. There was some mischievous satisfaction and you could see it in her soothing eyes.

“Hmmm, you are giving mighty suggestions. Let me try this if it does wonders for me,” he said, as his right eyebrow cocked higher to the brim of his hairline.

She gave a weakling slap on his shoulder and pressed her lips in miscellaneous anger. In fact there was no anger at all. She just wanted to threaten him with her gestures, but failed miserably when he had burst into laugh.

“C’mon now tell me what’s going on your side, so you have signed a contract to become an actress or what?” he said.

She folded her hands in front of him and said, “It’s not an easiest thing to get an opportunity just like that,” she snapped her fingers, “you have to work hard for that. Will see, what’s going to happen for me in the future. Let’s hope for the best. I mean, I have done one add and it’s doing pretty good with the viewers and the stake holders. But I have been unlucky until now, because I haven’t received a single chance to get into film industry or doing one more add. I think people have started seeing me as disgusting thing,” she cajoled herself, but her face was serious enough to undergo the tumultuous phase of her life now. She was badly waiting to receive another chance to save some bucks. In fact, she had run out of bucks in the last month. She had hardly had five thousand bucks in her savings account as of now. Her father was screaming at her every time she had called him and told that she was trying to get a chance in the film industry. He had never liked her and told her not to come home if she was going to carryon herself like this. Her mother was stubborn too. She had told her that I think that I had lost my younger daughter (Reshmi). On hearing her mother tell this, Reshmi felt like killing herself. The whole day she hadn’t slept and watching at the ceiling fan if she had to hang herself. She didn’t tell these things to Gautam because she thought he might suffer a lot if he had known this ridiculous thought she had. But next day she felt of fool on thinking about killing herself. She knew that taking abrupt decision in wrecking situations would only end up in chaotic way or sometimes yield serious problems. She had known those things from experience, and prodded herself for successfully defeated the thought of hanging down. No matter how many problems the life throw unto me, I would dare myself to take it in my heart, she willed herself to say this numerous times.

“Hah, I haven’t received any offers now. I am still trying it out Gautam,” Reshmi said. Her face was grim and turned solid like a rock, now. She was happy that she had hidden some of the things from him, though she had felt extremely sorry about it. Because in her virtual diary, she had written that she shouldn’t lie with her boyfriend. But if something is going to hamper others, then you have to rewrite those items, there was nothing bad in it. She knew and did it now.

“Do you worry because you had to leave your job behind to pursue your dream?” Gautam said. He knew this question was harsh and brutal for her. It is. She couldn’t expect this question from him and she startled at that moment. She had to force herself to answer for him. Also she had to run so many thoughts before answering it, because she thought it was a sensitive question. What to answer, she raked her brain with provoking thoughts. But the answer seemed to be eluded from her now. Yes, she had times when she had felt bad for giving up her job. By doing so, she had to face so many hurdles and problems in her life, let alone the financial struggles. Her father had deprived her from his house, and her mother too stayed away from her life. Her sister won’t mind whatever she does, because she got married and didn’t have any tender feelings on her now. Her only point of contact now was Gautam and his friends. The sleepless nights haunted her for so many days. But no one could shackle her dreams, she was sure of that. She wanted to prove that she was right in her decision.

“No, I am happy for what I am doing because I feel fulfilled with my soul and heart and mind,” she said, feeling good about her answer.

“That’s why you are always on top of my heart. I love you babe, I love you so much,” Gautam said. He looked into her face as if he was realizing now how beautiful she was. Her face was soft and cheery white and had all charisma the world would offer. What was more interesting thing was her marble eyes, which was deep and had conveyed her hardcore feelings, he thought he had lost in it. He brought his face close to her, and hesitated to give a wet kiss on her bow shaped lips. But she had offered it with ease and good smile in her eyes.

“Let’s hope for the best, I will let you know once I receive any offer. But you keep in touch with me, my boy. You are always not in online to chat with me, that irk me sometimes,” she said and slapped on his head.

*

Chapter 16: Freescale processor

“Hmm, what are you doing man?” Kamesh said to Madhan, who was mulling with the project which should be submitted in the institute where he was learning the art of Java programming. Kami was almost shocked because he had never seen Madhan doing something so seriously with his heart and mind. This was something mystical to him. You should have seen the room now. The books were stacked up behind him and coffee mugs in front of him and scribbled papers were smeared in the room. Not to say the green electronic boards were circled around him. It looked like a research lab, the one where scientists sit and work hard to unveil some interesting facts to the world.

“Hah, I have to submit this project tomorrow Kami. It’s something very important in my career, if I do it well then there are chances I can get placed,” Madhan said with exhilaration. His fingers were holding the multimeter like a doctor having a stethoscope. He wanted to debug the device for which he was trying to give life.

“Looks like you are going to be awarded a gold medal for doing this innovative project,” Kamesh said and winked at him.

“Kami…..” Madhan looked up at him and swallowed his words. A slight nod conveyed that he was pissed off now.

“The recent times, I have been looking at you guys. Both are very sincere and dedicated, what is happening with both of you,” Lawrence squealed from behind them. In parallel process, he was punching his fingers at Acer laptop (yes, he had recently bought this one) and downloading the latest songs from online store. He always loved to hear AR Rahman songs, and he couldn’t simply hang on until he could hear the songs from his new album Kadal.

“You are settled in your life, but we haven’t even initiated our life. Don’t you think we are deserved to have a job in our hands,” Madhan said. You could see the frustration in his eyes. He was really charging at him. The pain and suffering he had gone through over the past years were clearly shown in his countenance. What else he can do now after his parents were really had gone berserk with him. His father hadn’t sent even a rupee after his frantic squeal over the phone for the past few months. He was left to live with his friends without a penny in hand, though Kami was doing a painstaking job to bring him up. He had to thank Gautam for enrolling along with him in a good institute (he still believes). The determination to succeed was seeded in his soul when he had gone to learn the course by selling the ring of his Gautam’s mother. It doesn’t matter if he loses in the race or not, but he had to prove himself that he was in the race as well (of course the job hunting race).

“That’s true man. I am just asking incase if you need any help from me?” Lawrence said. Don’t you think it’s a valid question? After all, he was going to complete half year in the job. He was both confident and agile while leading the project from the front. In fact, his team lead Lohit had given a good feedback rating to the project manager. There was a cross talk in his company that he was going to be a best performer in the group of freshers. That would be followed with good increment and solid position in the upcoming years. He was waiting for things to improve dramatically.

“No need. I just had to bring this board up,” Madhan said, pointing his index finger at the green color electronic device.

“What is that man? What this project about?” Kamesh asked, his curiosity got increased after seeing the red and yellow lights flashing in the circuit board.

“Hah, it’s called behavioral correction system,” Madhan said. He was thrilled to share the information on what was he doing now.

“What?” Kami squeezed his face like he was retching out something.

“Yes, man. This system will monitor your behavior very closely for fifteen to twenty minutes and come back with a report,” Madhan said. He was delighted to explain things to his friends because he felt for the first time he had done something valuable to the world.

Lawrence was piqued by this project and closed his laptop and gave a firm nod at him, “what kind of report it will generate?’

“There is a processor in-built with this system, which had a speech recognizing sensor and it can analyze the way the fellow is speaking,” Madhan said, he was pointing his finger at the several sections of the board, “and there is a camera which would capture the movements of the body and there is a central processor system which has a fleecy software that can provide a healthy status based on how a person is behaved in the given time,”

Kami flipped his bulged lip and gave a sharp and vindicating look. He was bemused by the way Madhan was talking now. He had never expected he would gain such a quick momentum in his life, but here he was witnessing this progress with his own eyes and couldn’t be denied. Also he was happy on seeing that he was doing something worth. Yes, Kamesh had turned out to be a good fellow in recent months after he had found a reunion with his friend Lawrence. He hadn’t given a fight with others on cooking food or other miscellaneous things, though he would blabber whenever he would fill his brain with alcohol.

“Which processor you used in this?” Lawrence asked.

“Freescale MPC5200.”

“What language you used to develop the software?”

“Bottom layer is C and front layer is Java,” Madhan said with an authoritative voice.

“Wow, looks like you have become genius in Java, eh?” Kami said.

“Man you don’t tease me. I am just a beginner and doing something awkward now,” Madhan said in a humble tone. He knew that he was lowering himself to say this. The one thing he had realized over the past two months was that whoever is going up in their career ha to humble themselves to learn more things. That was happening with him right now. He was learning and at the same time, he wasn’t happy to boast over on his improvement.

“Don’t tell lies. You are doing a brilliant work now,” Lawrence had prodded him with his silky words. Whenever your friends are applauding or appreciating your work, you never get overwhelming feelings because you often believe that they were just lying to make you feel good. The same feeling Madhan had now. He didn’t want to enthrall over his preening comment on him. The most important thing for him now was to get placed in any company by showing his ability in handling the projects. Then only he would feel there was something he had done well to cheer up himself.

“I don’t even know what the fuck it is,” Kamesh said with an imposing look, “but you are making something on the board and bang…something is popping out. I see you like a magician changing a coin into a bird. What do you say?” he shrugged his shoulders. He was not feeling bad because his friend had done a great job, but he wasn’t able to acknowledge (or fathom) what he was doing that bothered him a lot. He knew that it wasn’t a simple task to work with processor and software and all. He had given up this frustrating thing to work in a BPO company as you know. There, all he had to do was prodding the customers by lashing out his tongue. He loved that job somehow because he had an opportunity to talk with young customers (of course girls too) and particularly from the foreign land. He was making a swift progress in learning foreign languages. Do you know one thing that he had learnt German language (of course a few romantic words) by speaking with a girl from the same land? First she had started speaking in English with him, but after hearing her sweet voice he had suggested to talk with him in German, so that he would learn the language and chat with her as well. She did and in fact she had made frequent calls to spend some time with him over the phone. God knows where this talks going to end with?

Madhan laughed at what he said and shook his head before saying something meaningful, “C’mon Kami. This is nothing but processor and software and you have learnt it in our college days.”

“Huh, is it? I couldn’t understand a bit from what I am looking right now,” Kami said with a wink in his left eye.

“No matter how many years you will try to learn this. You will end up in failure,” Lawrence said happily. He loved to haggle with Kami, always. There was no exception of this snippy chatting between them, though last time it was ended up in bitter fighting, which made them live separately for some time.

“Lawri, you shut your….” Kami said, he signified with his cupped hand at him. He was irritated to know the truth from others that he was ineligible to learn such a crafty thing. Though he often boasts over that he doesn’t know anything, he would never expect from others alleging him that he was ignoble and dull head. Particularly from Lawrence. You know why, isn’t?

“Hey guys stop now,” Madhan said with a thin smile on his lips. He was enjoying their show, but he couldn’t dare to let them fighting each other again. Now, he was no more in the mood of letting them grease their pants either.

“So, where is Gautam, I couldn’t see him in the nights for a while,” Lawrence said.

“He is going to meditation center to keep himself calm and serene,” Madhan said. Yes, he was right. To silence the inner turmoil which keep surfacing in his mind, Gautam had joined in a local meditation center to resurrect himself. He had finished the project early on, but still he didn’t have the confidence to climb the job offer with the interviews he was going to attend in coming days. A few days back he had tried to talk with Kamesh in English, but he was embarrassed to speak in front of him. The more he hesitated to talk, the poor he spoke. Kami had laughed at him genuinely. Kamesh didn’t want to shatter his confidence, but he couldn’t suppress his laugh either on hearing him. The English wasn’t bad at all, but his hesitation had cost him a lot to speak malignantly. He ended this bitter conversation with a wrecked heart and that time he was looking around to maintain an equilibrium mindset. Because his mind was jumbling up and down and he had the urge to rein it. One day, when he roamed around the street down in the corner, he had found one meditation center and that’s how he had joined there.

“It’s look like his chic would have suggested, isn’t?” Kami nodded two of them by showing his glowing teeth.

“No, I don’t think so. He is feeling let down for last few days and I think the decision is his,” Madhan said.

“What happened to him?” Lawrence said, he couldn’t understand the actual reason behind this sudden change.

“He is dejected because he didn’t know if he would get a job,” Madhan said.

“But he is preparing good, right? Did he not done the project or what?” Lawrence questioned him.

“Oh man,” Madhan sighed, “he had finished his project three days back. In fact, he is the first fellow in our group had finished it. But he is worrying because he couldn’t know how he was going to talk in English in the upcoming interview. I think that was his main worry now. Also in the recent days, he had mentioned about his sister and her marriage and having no job in hand. He feels that his family couldn’t marry her off because he didn’t have a job.”

“Man he is really an intelligent fellow. If he only learnt that sucking English then he would climb topper and topper, isn’t?” Kamesh said.

“Yeah I guess so,” Madhan mumbled. He knew that Gautam really had a good caliber in doing projects, because he had seen him doing in the institute many times.

“Poor fellow. I think he will do well in the upcoming interviews,” Lawrence said, hoping for the best of him.

*

Today, Madhan and Gautam had an interview with Carlsen Shining software Ltd., in the institute where they were undergoing course. Both had cleared their written test and Madhan had already entered into the technical discussion room to exhibit his capability on steering the projects under his belt. On the other hand, Gautam was waiting in the waiting room for the HR to promulgate his name to undergo the technical discussion. He was nervous and feeling awkward too, because it was his last chance to grab a job in MNC. There was no doubt that this company would give a good package for the selected employees. There was a talk that this company going to hire only three employees. Gautam had cleared his lump down his throat, as he flicked his head towards the guys who were sitting behind him in the iron chairs. There were at least fifteen guys had been waiting or fighting to grab this offer. No doubt, they were good at English. That’s what his all-time worry now. His chances would be very low if he wouldn’t speak fluently in English, because the notice board (in front of him) had already proclaimed that the candidates should have exceptional speaking skills in English to attain this job. On reading this, his confidence was half-shattered. He gasped and mass of self-defeating thoughts were running furiously in his head now. He had gripped his file in his fingers and nodded at the white ceiling and muttered a silent prayer. In fact, the boys and girls (only one thin girl) were doing the same thing. Why not? If there is an alias name for luck, that would be God’s grace. Don’t you think so? Of course, we had to prepare and shed perspiration in reaching our goals.

A face came out of the door, there he was, Madhan, bubbling with joy and exhilaration. His colorful face told he had achieved something in this world. Oh, God, is he got a job or what? Gautam mind was racing faster now. He was happy for him, but the tension that he was going to face the interview next was huge and the fear was started attacking him now. Already thick sweat beads were lined up on the top of his head. Madhan had sprinted across the room with a file in his hand and charging towards Gautam, his smile had never left his eyes. This was the first time he was looking this much happier since his college days. Of course the booze time was different all together.

Madhan stood up in front of Gautam and nodded.

“How was the interview man?” Gautam asked.

“Hmm, quite well. The technical team is quite impressed with the project I have done,” Madhan said and looked at Gautam’s face carefully or caressingly, “thank you for helping me out.”

“Oh, c’mon. I think you deserved this job,” Gautam blurted out.

“Don’t know. Let’s wait and see. HR has to confirm it, right?” Madhan said, he was quiet dejected this time. But at the same time, he was feeling confident and strong.

A pretty HR girl had glinted across them and read out Gautam’s name. Gautam immediately stood and headed towards the room, where the technical panel had been waiting for him.

“Please sit down,” A tall fellow, who had French beard said. He wore maroon tie and looked very stylish but young. There were one more lady was there but she didn’t greet him and stayed silent. She looked simple in brown and violet sari and had long hair with twists and turns. She had a look of maturity and affection, as her somber eyes had meant it.

Gautam hesitantly had taken a seat. His fingers slightly shivered when he handed them his resume. His mind was not with him now. He had to pull his mind back to do some miracle for him. It was no easy, anyway. His heart beat was pounding with heavy thuds in his ears. It took him a minute to settle down in his chair and look at them firmly.

“It looks impressive; I have never heard controlling the function of muscles through the processor. Let’s talk about your project,” the French beard interviewer said to him, as whisked his hand at him.

Gautam was stuttering now. The words were choking in his head and not reaching to his tongue yet. That’s how he felt. He was trying hard to speak about the project but the air was rushing out of his mouth and his words caught arrested somewhere down his tongue. He was struggling to renew his confidence, but it was only a wrangled failure.

“What happened? Did you do this project or someone else, I doubt it because you are not speaking anything about it?” the lady asked. She found him amusingly a wicked fellow while he struggled to speak in English. Now, no wonder, she did not believe (or had lost her tinkle of hope) that he had done this project himself after seeing him struggle. She thought and believed that someone had helped him to do this complicated project.

“No mam. Thhhis…this project I only did,” Gautam said, and the stutter was bad now. A shuddering fear caught his nerves and he was become belligerent and awkward to meet their taunting questions now.

“Then can you explain how could you control the muscles in our arms?” the French beard fellow asked.

“The processor would be storing the details of a person and the body muscles should be controlled through a tweaking machine which is a kind of laxative device would send signals to the respective muscles to control them. The software is built with caktalk algorithm and it is based on Linux operating system,” Gautam said. He had explained it in a long and relapsing tone. The way he had sputtered the words had made the lady squirm her head and threw her hands in the air. She was feeling upset and intolerable when he shared all the details of the project. She thought it was somehow disgusting as if he was retching out the bile at her. When he was talking, she had closed her mouth with her kerchief and threw a malicious look on him. She wanted to throw away him immediately. But the French beard fellow had liked the project and he seemed to be interested in taking him to the company. But God knows what will happen finally.

“I like your project’s intention. But the way you speak is somehow not making us so interested, you know,” The lady said and gave a thin sheepish look at him and continued, “don’t you know how to talk in English? It’s embarrassing to see when the engineering student stuttering in English. How would you converse with the clients and explain them the stuff what you have done in the projects, then?” she was curiously waiting for his answer. She had already dismissed him from the selection criteria. Nothing could give him job until he speaks in flawless English. That’s what her thought process. She had never liked to have a stuttering fellow like him in her team. She wanted to give up this interview right away by throwing him out of the room. Her dress sense didn’t reflect her attitude at all. Did you absorb it? If you think she was good and have a great humanity by judging with her dress then, you were wrong. She was sullen and moody right now. We don’t know what would be her mood in the next minute. Really, that’s how she had behaved in front of him.

“Mam, I am not based on English background. So I struggle a lot with this language,” Gautam murmured, he wanted to make some amendments here. He was trying to justify why he was bad at English. But, boy this is not gonna work for you. Can someone tell him, no? The corporate people look for the corporate blood who would drive others with a swaggering tongue. That doesn’t mean that every corporate people would be in the punishing mood always.

“So what? I have four people in my team and they were coming from Tamil and Kannada back ground. They speak good English, you know,” the French beard fellow said, “don’t give some shitty explanation to us. If you try to learn this language eagerly, you would have talked easily. I have no doubt on this. But I don’t think you have given the required practice to learn this language,” the French beard fellow shrugged his shoulders with a taunting face.

Gautam couldn’t take this accusation easily, because he had done the all the hard work, but still he didn’t find the knack of it. That’s what his worry now. How I could say to him that I was daily spending hours and hours on learning this language and still felt rejected and couldn’t learn this in a better way, he thought. Yeah, everyone knows he was striving hard and all, but the real thing was that he was still lacking and he couldn’t able to practice it well. The practice is what making a man perfect, it’s a perfect statement made for him.

“I am putting hard work to learn it, but somehow I couldn’t---,” Gautam said and he was unable to bring what he wanted to say. There was a pause on each time he tried to speak something. His tongue was sticking out and pulled inside awkwardly each time he had whacked his brain to talk something meaningful.

“We have done with you. Can you—,” the lady said and whisked her hand towards the door. Asking him to shut his mouth and ass to get out of here. He obeyed her words and returned back with his empty hands and outweighing mind. The plundering thoughts were swirling his brain like neutrons and electrons would spin around the atom. He knew he was in a dangerous position now, which meant he had lost this battle too. There was no doubt on this, because he knew how badly he had done today. This was probably the worst stuttering he had gone through so far in any of the interviews. A large humiliation was writ across his face when he darted towards meeting his friend in the waiting room. Madhan was peeping with his pleasant eyes when he had clutched his hands and asked him what happened. Gautam had lowered his head and didn’t say anything. He just sagged low his butt on the iron chair beside him and dropped his head low to convey that he had ruined his chance again. Madhan had believed he had flunked this too, because he knew that Gautam was not at all confident when he had headed to the technical discussion. He didn’t want to give him another pouncing headache by questioning him, so he stayed calm.

“Don’t you ask me what happened in the technical discussion?” Gautam asked, he wanted to open this talk to shut his mind, because it was yelling some freaking stuff at him. Also he didn’t feel quite right by distancing himself from his friend, so he had asked him this question.

“No, not like that. I just thought we would discuss about this in our room,” Madhan said, feeling bad when Gautam had put an insane question like that. He was not prepared for that question, that’s what made him to shrug initially.

“Okay, what happened man?” Madhan said, slightly feeling hesitated. He had never been like that before with him, but for the first time. Sometimes it was really hard to open a talk with a close friend in some embarrassing situations. Did you ever feel like this?

“Like every time, I am busted out of the race once again man, c’mon we will go and celebrate,” Gautam said madly, and yanked his hands to pull him away.

The other guys who were waiting for their final announcement of the selection, had threw a shitty look at Gautam, but he didn’t seem to care about them at all.

“What happened man. Behave yourself, let us hear the final results and go back to our room,” Madhan hollered in a frantic voice. He had to clutch Gautam’s hands tightly in order to pull him down on the iron chair. It was not an easy task anyway, because Gautam was in a bad shape now after his defeat in the interview. No one had to tell him that he didn’t get selected, because he knew it right away in the middle of the technical discussion itself. There were strange and worrying thoughts drifting across his mind now. He didn’t know what he was going to do after this. Because his hope was completely shattered by now. It was the only chance he had hoped high to get placed in a good company. But it was a failure….in fact utter failure. What was there to reclaim the job he had lost so far? No nothing, he had thought himself and was infuriated suddenly. The course what he had done now was the last reserving hope he had until now, but it got sunk low…very low. His mind now went to the first day when he had journeyed in the train and came to Bangalore, and where he was whipped downright by the cleaner. The cleaner had asked him some of the valuable questions at that time. It seemed everything was true to him now. I should have dragged my bag to the home that day itself, he thought miserably.

“Are you wanted to come to room or what?” Gautam said in a pissed off voice and grabbed his collar and dragged him.

Boys were cussing at him for behaving so badly.

Madhan shrugged off his shoulders and pulled back his collar and sat down on his chair again. He knew exactly about the insurmountable pain he was undergoing now. There was no medication can possibly cure that wound instantly. It will take its own time to cure itself, until then he shouldn’t be demoralized or threatened. He stayed calm and composed and didn’t hurtle any wrong words at his friend for his insane behavior.

“The HR is coming to read the names, after that we will go back to the room, okay?” Madhan said in a soft whisper as to cool down his hotness.

Gautam was in no mood to heed his suggestion. He was rousing with anger and restlessness. He wanted to get out of here immediately, because he didn’t have a heart to hear that he was thrashed down in the interview again. It was disgusting and huge embarrassment to let them shove him out. He couldn’t bear it now. He twisted and turned before he sat down in the chair with a downtrodden heart.

The HR lady returned to the place where everyone was anxiously waiting for the result. She flipped the paper and started reading out the names. Woosh..the first name she called out was Madhan, who was excited as he heard his name in the selection list, but he couldn’t show that excitement in his face. He knew this was not the right time for the celebration. On the other side, Gautam had placed his hand over his shoulder and patted him gently. He didn’t smile, but his warm greetings had reflected in his face. After all, his friend had deserved his job and there was a faint relaxation in his eyes for he had helped his friend in some way to achieve this milestone.

*

Chapter 17: A learning curve

Gautam had turned to drink now. He thought it was the only resurgence to take him to the next level. He drank continuously for a month. He had drunk every kind of drink available in the market. But his problems hadn’t stopped floating in his mind. He didn’t want to stay in the room, because everyone had a job and he was still roaming like a clown in the streets. At one night when he was fully drunk, he had dismissed Reshmi’s call and send her a message, ‘Don’t love me, I am a jobless and poor fellow. I am not a perfect match for you….’ He cried out his heart immediately. He knew that his message was going to rip her heart inside out, but he felt miserable and guilty to pursue her further. He thought this was the perfect end to give her an exiting hand. At least she would be happy marrying someone else, who is contended and serious in his profession, he thought indignantly. His infectious rage and ragged anger had increased day by day like a womb is growing up. He had started yelling at his friends for every small thing, but they didn’t say anything in return. Actually, he wanted they should fight with him and throw him away, but it wasn’t happening. He didn’t like the way they were treating him, it’s like they were showing some compassion to the mendicant. He wanted them to behave normal, and he didn’t want that damn sympathy or empathy to consider him as a diseased fellow. One day he had told them that he was feeling missed out the fun, poking comments, jostling with each other, and everything. ‘When you turn normal, then we will behave normally,” Madhan said and dismissed him. ‘How can I be normal when I don’t have a job. You all are having the shitting happiness with a job but I am here alone and sitting like a lepro man. Don’t you feel my pain and regret for me,’ he said to him sternly. The words made his friends sulk more than before. That didn’t mean they haven’t had a heart to heal his pain or whatever. Everything was there, but Gautam had turned out to be an egoistic fellow and looking for troubles in every nibble of matter he dealt with. That’s what making his friends irksome sometimes with him. Two days back he got into fight with Kamesh for a silly thing that he hadn’t ironed his shirt at all. He had desperately waited that the fight would break into wild form to accuse each other and let the scuffle turn into high intensity wrestling. But Kamesh hadn’t said one harsh word to him and kept saying to him that he had forgotten to iron his dress. That made his anger double and treble, before he broken a glass tumbler on the floor. He shook his collar and asked ‘c’mon hit me man. Let my nose and mouth bleed. Knock over me’ he almost screamed with ferocity and no one dared to talk to him that whole night. The next day, Lawrence went to him and said ‘don’t ruin your life by taking this booze. Concentrate on your studies and definitely you will get a job in a week or so. Top MNCs are waiting to give a job for you.’ Gautam’s face had turned reddish and purplish after hearing these unceremonious words. It made him wince and his temperature rose abruptly. ‘Don’t give me a fuck again. Those companies don’t want a bitch like me.’ He yelled at him and then dismissed him. Three of them felt his consumption of alcohol was growing steadily and feared of his deteriorated health which might come sooner than later. They felt responsible if their parents had questioned them about his health. They thought of telling their parents about the mental torture his/her son going through now. But suddenly they felt it won’t be a good idea to disturb their peace also. At least let them have some peacefulness there. If they had to come to know that his/her son was turned out to be a serious drinker in the recent days, it would give them massive pain and they couldn’t be in a position to deal with it easily. So they avoided making that call, instead they talked to Reshmi to take care of his health because she did have a control over him and they were useless in this matter. She did reply with a wheezing cry. She just kept worrying what would happen if he drinks like that. It had affected her career too, she had missed her regular dance practice and avoided attending some of the important competitions, because she had felt mentally vulnerable and weak. In order to keep her focus fertilized she had to be in a steady state and shouldn’t mess up her mind, but she was untidy with her heart and soul now, that’s what making her performance poor and couldn’t keep going herself. She badly wanted Gautam to return to normalcy and fight against the odds which was challenging him immensely. She had called him twice and spoke with him for hours on how to confront his life to shine himself, but no use, and he was in no mood to heed her suggestions. She had tried to seduce him by coming over to her room and kissing some passionate kisses but without success again, and he had completely dealt her like a doll (drained of emotions) and nothing else. That was too bad for her and she never had expected such mischievous response from him. What else she can do? Yes, she had tried to climb over him but he just flipped her aside like tossing the ball. Finally she had decided that she better had to concentrate on her performance than to waste her time on seducing him to become normal. She knew in the corner of heart that he would bounce back if he gets that relief. She trusted him somehow. She thought that was the right decision to make him good and sow some virtuoso in him. Time is the pain killer, she believed herself. Yes, it does wonders and miracles too. All we have to do is to let the problems dissolve like fog is disappearing in the appearance of the warm sun. Give some time and every wound will cure itself.

After a break of fifteen days she thought of calling him back. To ensure if he was feeling better without her phone calls and pestering. The phone was kept ringing and he didn’t pick up the call, but when she had thought of cutting the call, she had heard a click in the phone. There was a response, but it was Lawrence. After seeing Reshmi’s call Gautam had let down the call and didn’t feel like attending it. He was completely shadowed and sunken low to attend this call.

“Hell Reshmi, it’s Lawrence here.”

There was a pause. Probably she was fighting hard with her tears.

“Hi Lawrence,” Reshmi said, usually she enquire about their health first, but she wasn’t in a position to ask today, because she herself felt miserable and unhappy.

“How are you doing?” Lawrence asked, he only had a better relationship with her than Madhan and Kamesh, because he had worked with her in the past. And he thought the question seemed very important under the circumstances.

She didn’t respond and continued, “How is Gautam doing there?” she knew it was his health that was primary preference than hers. Also she was waiting to hear his voice, and it was fifteen days since she had heard him speak. There was anxiety and excitement both mixed in her appeal. It’s not an easy ordeal to bring herself cool now, it can’t be achieved until he was fine.

“He is doing as usual. Not keen to talk to anyone, bit grumpy and feeling distressed,” Lawrence said. First he thought if he should say the truth, then realized it was necessary to report whatever he was witnessing being one of his friends.

Reshmi immediately plunged into the state of malady, she didn’t want to hear such distressing statement from him. She thought he should have lied with her, saying, that he was feeling good. That way her hard feelings would have grounded and she might have relaxed a bit. But on hearing his pungent statement she was totally feeling dejected and somber.

“Oh, God, that is harsh to take. Why he is becoming irresponsible with what he is doing. Can you guys pull him out of this wrenching pit, I can’t bear hearing that he is become so obsessed with his lack of job, I am getting worried he might choose kill himself,” Reshmi said, her tender lips were quivered with jolt when she mentioned the ‘kill’ word. The mere thought brought the copious tears into her eyes, she couldn’t withstand her life without him, and it can’t be imaginable. She would die if something happened to him. Nothing fun. She was serious about this. Her cheeks went pale and hard and colorless. She was out of options to make him better, because she had done all the things she was able to bring a change in him, but nothing went her way. The only option she had faintly thought or believed was that she had to threaten him that she was going to kill herself if he keep drinking that useless alcohol daily and tormenting everybody with this filthy habit. But she doubted it and didn’t seem to be impressed with this idea at all.

“We have done everything that would possibly bring some change in him. But we are helpless and screwed up you know,” Lawrence said.

“What he is doing now. Why he didn’t pick up the call?” Reshmi said, rubbed her forehead as if thumping headache was growing up.

“He….he was,” Lawrence wanted to tell something but Gautam had stared at him with high intensity, “having dinner, now I will give it to him. You can talk now,” he kept the phone beside Gautam, who was keenly listening their conversation until now. Actually he was drinking whisky at the moment, he was pouring water into the glass which was already filled with whisky. He put a finger on his lips and asked Lawrence to give a phone to him.

“Hello Gautam are you there… I am your Reshmi talking. Can’t you talk to me, eh?” she said, as tear rushed out of her left eye. She didn’t feel like wiping it away, because she knew it was going to flood in a minute or so.

“No, tell me,” Gautam said, his voice was stern and void of expression.

“What are you doing Gautam, I am feeling worried because of you. Your friends are telling that you are still addicted to drinking, is that true? I don’t to hear yes from you,” she said in a high voice. Her right eyebrow was cringed in snarl.

“No, I am not drinking,” he said, he flicked the cigar ash in the ashtray. He didn’t have any guiltiness that he was lying. The lie was popped out of his mouth just like a candy tossed into his mouth. His heart had become hard like brick now. He also had decided that she was going to leave him or perhaps, he was thinking of leaving her (to give a peaceful life to her, he was becoming charitable person in these days, you know). After series of drinking his mind too become a bricklike. His thoughts were stemmed up without compassion and gravity. He was just heading straight into hell, not knowing where he was.

“Don’t lie. I can smell what you are doing there. You smart ass, how dare you to lie with me,” her voice rose steadily, “Don’t I know you are turning out to be a bitch in your room. You don’t show me your face again. You cheater. Yes, you have cheated me. You promised me you will be taking care of me well, but you….always drinking and sniggering with your life partner and friends. It may sound ridiculous to you, but mark my words. If you are going to continue drinking, then forget me. I don’t want to ruin my life by being with an idiot and irresponsible fellow,” she said. She was stunned of what she spoke. How dare she could talk like that? Probably, this was the same question she had asked herself. It was clearly surprised her the way she threw her harsh words at him. She had never expected she would be speaking like that with him. She read that he was drinking from his snappy tone (after all she had slept with him earlier) and wanted to repudiate him for that. She didn’t know what to say to keep him shut from the drinking. She had done all the passionate and lovable talk with him, that ended up in failure and finally she was the victim of failure. Now she wanted to counter-attack him, and expecting this would act like a bitter pill to save his life. But she wasn’t sure about the result. Let God save him and bless him if He really concerned about His children, she thought finally.

“Reshmi…dear….don’t leave me, you can’t leave me just like that,” Gautam’s words were choking. It was the first time he was addressing her ‘dear’ after two months. She was surprised to hear this. She thought he was going to cut the call and switch off it. But something dramatic was happening here, she couldn’t believe it. The risk she had taken was paid back immensely. If this was the way he would have changed, then she would have done the same thing months before. She felt like smiling and crying, both at the same time. An immeasurable relief had washed over her soul. She felt completely relieved now. What was the thing would bring happier to us than our beloved one calling us dearly and passionately. It was something so special to hear after the mutilated relationship, which faintly looking up to blossom with fragrance. That’s the state of merriness she was living now. Her heart and mind filled with bundle of pleasant thoughts suddenly.

“You called me dear……” she was crying now, tears were crawling down her soft cheeks and waiting desperately to be wiped away with his fingers, “after so long time. I can’t imagine you would be changing so immediately. It’s like I am into heaven, so freed up and full of bliss,” she said, sobbing too. She felt like hugging and kissing him. If he was so near her, she would have cuddled him for hours and hours. She was waiting for this moment so badly. How long? It’s too long even to take minutes of separation. Do you ever feel that feeling? Of course you would have. She was longing to take him a good ride and chat for long hours. It’s been months since he had preened her with courtesy and loving words. It’s like drinking honey on hearing him when he was in that cozy mood. She knew it very well.

“But you never leave me alone. I am going to drop this evil thing from now on,” he said and grabbed the whisky bottle and looked at the wall to bang on it, but Kamesh was standing there with closed hands so he dropped that idea. But he was serious to prove her that he was closing all the accounts of booze from now on. He headed towards the kitchen and placed phone on speaker mode and banged the bottle in the sink. The coffee brown whisky flowed down into the sink as speckles of bottle fell at the corners.

“Oh, that’s good to hear that you have killed the bottle with a snapping sound,” she said and giggled, the tears were warmed up now.

“Do you want me to take a photo and send it back to you?” he asked with a smug smile.

“No, my sweetheart. I believe you completely from now on. You promise me, you don’t touch this booze again without my permission,” she asked like a little girl with pony tail.

“Of course dear. I promise. If you are going to be with me ever, then I don’t touch this booze ever, because I wanted to intoxicate with you,” he spread a thin smile into the phone as if she was looking at him. In fact, he felt she was there close to him and very close to him.

“You talk like rhymes now. I love that wittiness too,” she said and kissed her phone five times.

“Enough…enough I couldn’t breath,” he said coyly. The feeling was so good to talk with her intimately after a long time. He was now fulfilled and content to take any challenges that comes to him. During hardships one’s mettle is tested out. It is truth for him. He had learnt something valuable from these depressing situations. He was realizing those things with his open heart now.

Chapter 18: Goal achieved?

Gautam had slept like a new born child that night, without bringing any troubles to his heart and mind. After a long time his dream was pleasant and charming, it made him put a smile on his lips while sleeping. The hearty conversation with Reshmi had made a real difference, he had opened up freely with her and it had downsized his burden into half or less than that. He felt himself lighter than the feather and his energy level was suddenly peaked up. But still the vacant and dump feeling was lurked inside his soul, because he hadn’t had a job yet. The unquenchable fire was burning in him and he wasn’t going to give up until he had found one job for him. His resolution and determination had shown in his eyes when he had fallen asleep today. He waited for a good dawn to break down in the next day, so that some of the good thoughts would hang over his mind and hoped it might lead him to a good path.

The earlier dawn had broken down and brought gleaming sunrays flashed into the window and flourished his face in a glowing style. His body was warmed up and it gave a signal to him as a wakeup call. Gautam yawned and threw away his blanket and for the first time he muttered some prayer under his tongue. His mind was clutter free now. The romping and dousing thoughts went away immediately. He didn’t know if this day was going to be anything brighter than the last suffocating days. His resolution was still there, that didn’t escape him. He was thinking of what should he had to do now? He thought he had done all the things he could possibly can imagine to attain the job, but without any luck. He wondered if he had to consult some of the job agencies citing his lack of English fluency. But it didn’t seem right to him. Somehow he wasn’t feeling to receive an idea, but he was kept asking his heart to throw up what he should be doing today. Now his spirit was working on this matter full-fledged, he knew it from the way he was feeling relaxed and relieved. It was something like you have passed a heavy load onto other’s shoulder.

He prepared a coffee and sat in a chair looking into the window as the orange sun was glowing in great splendor. The steam of the coffee was dancing up in the air, as he held the cup in his hand, and plunged into calmness. For him it was looked like as if he was seeing the early morning sun for the first time. He had drenched in this moment, time had just run behind him faster, but he was having a sweet presence of sense. He thought he had wasted his complete life fuming against the trivial things and forgotten about the most important things which had graced him in his whole life. It sounds right? Don’t we? A lot of time we are fussing about some of the simple things while negating the other grandeurs of the nature. He was the only reason why he had suffered, not because his neighbors or friends or any of the situations. Leading the life in a fast phased manner would lead in a disaster sometimes, and we had to be patience. That can’t be denied. Sometimes we are making ourselves a complex product and couldn’t know how to get out of the entanglements which we have created within. All we had to do was to extricate the clutters and the muddled assumptions and conclusions we had created to confront the society with a proud gait. That should be eradicated. The uncultivated weeds and bushes should be plucked off from our minds.

Gautam had enjoyed his coffee by watching the effervescent and tender and young sun. It was a soothing experience for him. The first time he had realized that he was a human being and blessed with so many things. He didn’t want to hurry, because this hurry was never going to yield any good crops for him. Each tree was growing according to its own characteristics, and there were different seasons as well. You couldn’t blame a mango tree for taking years to yield the fruits. But it was growing and growing…it was absorbing water down from the earth and new branches were shooting up the sky to convince everyone that it was preparing itself for the final launch. When the time was right, it was going to give the sweet and ripened fruits to everyone. That was a catching moment for him. In fact, every tree and plants follows the same rule, but when it comes to humans the process was getting tougher and tougher by themselves. Gautam was astounded by the facts he was thinking right now. It was new and refreshing and making him feel better.

If you couldn’t climb up the ladder with three flights of the stairs at the same time, try to climb it with one stair at a time, he thought himself.

He frowned himself when he had always tried to snatch a MNC job. He felt ridiculous right now, because he knew there were so many companies over there without a MNC brand to it. It had never occurred to him before, to go looking for a job in tier-II or tier-III companies. Of course, the salary would be somewhat lower than what he had expected. But he would have been in the job and started pursuing his dreams in the IT revolution. More importantly, he could tell his father that he had a job in his hand and started earning as well (tidbit: That would have made them feel proud of his son). His confidence would have soared after joining in a small company and of course there was a huge possibility you would be admired by the management if your capability was something extraordinary. That mightn’t be the case with a large scale MNCs, because number of people were higher and it would be somewhat difficult for them to identify the right talent. Aiming high is never a curse, but not looking at the difficulties laid in the path and denying them would be a mightier blow for us sometimes. You have to look after it and try reaching your dream in the other way (of course it should be done with integrity and honesty). You should be flexible like a bamboo tree; otherwise things turn out in a hard grimace.

First time he had seen a tremendous possibility waiting for him to embrace. After considering this immense opportunities, his happiness soared like a racket. He was desperately waiting to start his second innings with a fresh mind without any hiccups in the game. He got up from the chair and jogged down the floor to the kitchen and threw the steel tumbler into the sink and prepared himself to take a bath. In a few minutes he had set off with a polished and clean blue shirt and black pants and combed his hair with wetness of the coconut oil and brushed it delicately. He had clean shaved his face, it was few weeks since he had cared to shave the beard. His face was now looking happier than ever, his cheeriness was back on the right track. His enthusiasm was clearly magnificent at this time. He arranged the papers neatly in the file and polished the shoe until his face was shimmered on it.

He opened Lawrene’s laptop and googled it to show the list of small companies which were looking for recent passed outs. Boomerang! There were plenty of companies were listed out. Only thing was he needed so much of time to go through it now. He quickly snatched a paper from his file and scribbled a few company names on it. And turned off the laptop and placed it behind Lawrence, who was soundly sleeping on the mat. Still their sleep quota hadn’t finished. Madhan and Kamesh as usual snoring like mules now. He then headed to attend the interview.

In the evening there was a blasting thunder and clouds were black and overflowing in the sky. The rain was hammering everywhere. Lightening was breaking intermittently in a wild manner. Guess what was the reason? Yes, Gautam had received his job in a small company with a monthly package of eight thousand. It sounds like very low package, right? But he was happier, because the interviewer had recognized his talent in the software field and they didn’t bother about his stuttering English and all. All they said was, ‘we need a fellow who is good at software and you have that with you. Your basic English is enough and you don’t have to impress your customers with your language. But you have to impress them with your software language,’ they grinned at him. He was immensely pleased with their way of looking at the employees. They had dealt with him amiably and in a friendly manner. In fact, they said ‘English wasn’t a barrier for us to join you, because you would be learning it with us when you join us.’ All he wanted was a platform to shine his skills and he had been rightly placed now. And he was sure that it wouldn’t have happened if he was fuming about himself for not getting placed in the MNCs. He had felt his dream was getting closer to him. Of course, he had made a first step to climb up the tower. If he had enriched his talent with the offered company, then in a few years other top companies would sought after his skills, you can’t predict anything about the future. It happens suddenly one day. He had firmly believed it now.

He wouldn’t hide his pleasure and exhilaration and wanted to call Reshmi to announce this news in the mid way. He was standing under the roof of White filed bus stand, his shirt and pants were drenched in the rain. The pearl drops of water were clinging on the top of his hair. He had least bothered about his wellness now. All he wanted now was to call her and share his enormous happiness with her. When he tried to call her, the phone got a ring. He was surprised when he had looked at the screen, because she had called him now. What a coincidence! He thought himself. His fingers were slightly shivering because of the wetness. He brushed his fingers with his shirt but it had failed to remove the wetness from his hand because the shirt was already got drenched. He was in no mood to notice these all things.

He swabbed his hand on the phone and punched his phone on his left ear, “Hello Reshmi.”

“Yeah, yeah….” He said, smile was pouring out of his lips.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“You tell me first, because you had called me,” he said. He had a little bit disappointed because he wanted to tell her first about his job. But still he wanted to know why she had called him.

“No, you tell me first. Your voice is suggesting that you are happier than ever,” she said and giggled.

Gautam couldn’t have a heart to wait further. His breath was heaving like an uproarious wind was snapping across the roads now. The rain was still banging on the earth in roar. His teeth were chattered and dribbles of water crossing down his cheeks when he said, “I have got a job, Reshmi.”

“Wow! That’s great news from your side, I must congratulate my dear for this immense achievement,” she said in a jeering voice.

“But don’t ask me about the salary and all,” he said.

“Why? Why not?” her voice was streaky and pulsating.

“Because I have got a chance to work in a small company and the salary is less compare to the MNCs,” Gautam said in a thin voice, but he wasn’t embarrassed with his achievement. In fact, he was beaming with pride at the moment.

“Oh, God. I thought something else. Anyway, I don’t bother about those things. For me it is important that you are feeling happy right now. I love you so much, my sweet heart,” she said in a peppy tone. She had always loved him very dearly with her honey words. It was one of the cheering moments and she caught everything right at this time. She was blowing with overwhelming happiness.

“Now, c’mon tell me why did you call me? I know you have something important to tell me about?” he said.

“My sweet idiot, I have got a chance to work as a choreographer in an upcoming movie with one of a leading director in the cine industry,” she said, her face was brimming with mighty pleasure.

“Is it? I can’t believe this? What a perfect time for both of us to receive such offers,” he said and jostled. His heart was floating in the heaven now. The happiness was sumptuous and vast, there was no way he would uphold it.

“Yes dear. It is. I have got a call from the director who had seen my add in the TV and he said he was impressed with it. That’s how I got this offer. You know, when I received his call, I thought someone was joking in the other end, but after some scrutinizing questions he had told himself that he was a leading director and wanted to work with me. I couldn’t still believe it, you now,” she said, her eyes swam in ecstasy.

“Haah, I understood the secret of success now,” Gautam gasped, “the more you hang on with your aspiration, then your perspiration won’t be wasted in vain and you will be finally end up with achieving your goal in an untimely manner.”

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