The Day The State Split Asunder-14
The Day The State Split Asunder-14
As promised, Aarti started bringing an extra lunch box for Adarsh every day. As the days passed she became a special person for Adarsh owing to the extent of care and concern that she showered on him as a friend.
His interest in her started getting intensified with each passing day and his fondness went to such an extent that he literally yearned to be close to her for as much time as possible one day it finally became clear to him that he was madly in love with her. One of the best feelings in the world is falling in love with someone. More often than not, it feels overwhelming and exciting, and it hits you out of nowhere.
He desperately wanted to express his love for her and has been waiting for an opportunity to open his heart to her. He has written a love letter in advance and always carried it along with him in his bag and decided to give it to her when he felt the time was right. A month has passed but he couldn't find the perfect time and occasion.
One fine Friday morning, Aarti looked dull. She usually wishes 'Good Morning' to Adarsh as soon as she steps in. But today she is lost in her own thoughts. The lugubrious expression on her face conveyed how bummed out she was.
'Aarti, The weekend is going to start in a couple of hours. Did you forget, today is Friday. The much-awaited day of the week,' Adarsh said looking at her doleful face. 'Why are you posing like a bankrupt millionaire?'
She brought her fingers to the forehead. Then with an anguished expression on her face, she asked, 'Do you need anything? Do you need anything?' She asked him twice.
'What happened? Why are you repeating the same sentence two times? You cannot be Aarti. I think you are the xerox copy of her…' Adarsh tried cheering her up.
'Adarsh!' she sighed. 'Today morning my cousin arrived from Mumbai. We booked a cab. The moment we got into the cab, the driver turned around and handed us ten hundred rupee notes. He quickly asked us to count the money and asked: "if we had two five hundred rupee notes". I said I didn't have the change and gave him back the money. He suddenly took off. Just a few hundred metres into the ride he asked us to pay three hundred and fifty rupees to drop at our destination. We refused and told him to stop. But before we could get off, he began screaming that we owed him a thousand rupees. We already returned him but he refused. He started using abusive words upon us and even threatened to hurt us. I quickly gave him a thousand rupees and got out of the cab. To fan the flames further, the changes that I submitted yesterday worked better in testing servers but not in production.'
'Poor girl! Did you lodge a complaint at the police station?' Adarsh said, sympathising with her dolorous tale.
'I thought of doing it, but my cousin stopped me. I forgot to note down the vehicle number of the cab. If I see him again I will set his cab on fire.'
'Aarti I know this is difficult to forget but you have to come out of this. Be happy that you are safe at least.'
'How can I be happy?' She nearly took a conniption over his statement. 'If you were in my position you would've known my pain.'
'Relax! See things could have been much worse than this.'
'Aarti and Adarsh,' the manager buzzed in, 'Come to the conference room.'
'Just give us a minute,' Adarsh said.
'Come soon…' the manager said and he left.
'Ah these boring meetings!' said Aarti, snapping her fist on the desk.
'Aarti, let's talk about it later. For now, let's go to the meeting…' said Adarsh.
No one ever had anything interesting to discuss in those meetings. It usually just entailed spewing out brainstorming ideas randomly until someone fell asleep and banged their head on the table - everyone's cue that another boring meeting was over. Adarsh and Aarti took their place at the conference table.
'Good afternoon, everyone!' The manager started, 'As usual, we have some very important ventures and promotional plans we need to discuss. But, before we get into that, I want to introduce you to someone, who is responsible for establishing this organisation. He is none other than our CEO Siddharth!'
Everyone stood and clapped as Siddharth walked into the room. He looked shorter than Adarsh but taller than Aarti. He looked handsome with a clean-shaven face, well-proportioned muscular limbs, and his hair slicked back with a hair gel that looked super trendy and stylish. He looked amazing in his navy blue suit.
Siddharth surveyed the room and smiled looking at Aarti before dimming the lights. 'Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen. It's an honour to be at this meeting today. With over one thousand employees it's hard to know everyone, but this year I want to make myself more transparent, more available because I like transparency,' his eyes froze at Aarti again.
Aarti covered the neckline with her Chunni at his sudden glance.
Why is he staring at me like that? She thought.
He began staring at her frequently while speaking. It appeared as if he was fantasising about her. She was looking at her watch every five seconds, hoping the meeting would come to an end soon.
'I can't say how much I value this company,' Siddharth continued. 'As you know, we are going through a restructuring phase. We are going to be shaking a few things up over the coming weeks by hiring new talent. Don't worry no one is going to lose their jobs. We are about to sign a contract with four major clients and we want to make sure our technical team is as strong as it can be. It's time for our Question and Answers session…' after saying that he walked around and took a seat directly across from Aarti next to Adarsh.
Later on in the question and answer session, everyone was doing their best to grab the CEO's attention. Members actively participated in sharing their opinions instead of scrolling away on their phones. Aarti and Adarsh contributed whenever they were called.
When Aarti was speaking Siddharth tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes at her. Occasionally, he would redirect his focus to the projector screen, but his piercing eyes always found their way back to her.
The meeting came to an end an hour later and everyone made a move for the door. Adarsh was near the door and he quickly stepped out. While Aarti was about to step out, Siddharth grabbed her hand, causing a sudden shock of 440 Volts of electricity to ripple through her. He immediately released her hand as other members were also present in the room.
'Madam Aarti! I am sorry… Your idea was fantastic, would you try explaining it to me in detail if you don't mind…' He was being courteous, even welcoming, but there was an edge to his manner that made her feel uncomfortable.
'Sure, Sir…' She moved to the other side of the room.
He waited for the last person to leave the room and shut the door before walking over to her.
'How long have you been working over here, Miss Aarti?' He placed subtle emphasis on the word 'Miss' and smiled.
'One year!' said Aarti.
'You have been working here for one year and I didn't know about it!' He rubbed his chin. 'How is this office? Did you like it?'
'Your job, this company. Me and others…'
'I love working over here.'
'Good to know,' he laughed. 'Would you like to come out for lunch along with me?'
What the hell are you asking? She thought.
'I am sorry!' he said as if he listened to her inner voice. 'For today, it may not be possible. Maybe let's plan some other day.' He left the room, leaving her goggle-eyed. She didn't say anything to him.
He asked me to wait to discuss the idea, but it seems like he is interested in something else. Men will be men if they see a beautiful girl. They will start showcasing their Oscar award-winning performance she thought while walking out of the room and sitting on the chair at her desk.
'Aarti! I was looking for you,' Adarsh said. 'Where did you go after the meeting?'
'Arey! This Siddharth stopped me. He asked me whether I would like to come along with him for lunch.' her voice came out loud aloud.
'What!' Adarsh narrowed his eyes. 'Bue he is already married and has a son.'
'You're talking as if I am getting ready to marry him.'
'Once again you're blowing things out of proportion. I was just telling you.'
'Morning the cab guy and now Siddharth. They both made my day worse,' she closed her eyes and started tapping her forehead as everything seemed to be going haywire, colliding with one another like excited atoms.
'Starting could be worse but the ending is completely in your hands. I know how to end your day on a happy note. If you don't mind, can you give me an hour of your time after the office?'
'An hour?' she exclaimed with her eyes wide open. 'I need to go home early.'
'Please give me only one hour. I promise you will not regret it.'
'Sure, but what are you going to do in that one hour?'
'It's top-secret. Let's not talk about this until evening. If you don't mind, can I tell you one thing?'
'Of course, you can.'
'You're looking so ugly today.'
'What!' She picked up her mobile and switched on the front camera. 'What is looking ugly upon me? Please tell me!'
'You have put everything but forgot to include the most important one.'
'I understood, I think this bindi on my forehead, I am sorry. I forgot to put it on today.'
'Hmm…' he sighed. 'It is not bindi, lipstick, or mascara that decorates a woman.'
'It is your smile. A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear. It can create wonders and accomplish miracles. When you smile, you look even more beautiful…' he said.
His words made sense. She smiled and said - 'If a smile is the most beautiful ornament for women, then what is the thing that looks beautiful on men?'
'Honestly, I don't know about it. Now, let's get back to our work. There are still a lot of bugs.'
'I am so sorry for that mess… I should have tested it before moving it to production. I didn't know it would turn out this much buggy.'
'Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them. Some people make the same mistakes over and over again, fail to make any real progress, and can't figure out why,' Adarsh said. 'I am sorry for saying this, but as a friend, I should point out your mistakes. I understand you don't like doing things twice, but you have to take ownership of your work.'
'I am sorry, I didn't mean to do that, but it happened,' Her tone was placid and calm, but Adarsh saw her hand gripping the armrest of her chair tightly.
'Aarti! In matters of work, we need to be honest in dispensing our duties. I know you're already running on a bad day. For today, you relax. I will try fixing those bugs. Try looking at it when you feel like doing it. But in the evening don't forget to give me an hour of your time.'
'Sure, But tell me what you are going to do? See if it is for dinner, then I am not going to come.'
'It is not going to be dinner.'
'It's a surprise. I will only tell you… sorry, I will show you in the evening…' he pulled his chair back to his desk and got engrossed in his work.
The time slowly marched to five and being Friday, the team decided to have a small snack party to bring fun into the day before signing off. They placed the order online and an hour later the food items arrived and were placed at everyone's desk.
Adarsh placed the Burger and coke in front of her. Aarti refused to eat while Adarsh wolfed down everything that was set in front of him and resumed his work until the clock struck seven. Aarti received a call from her cousin and informed her that tonight she would be sleeping at her aunt's home.
'Aarti! It's time for us to go,' said Adarsh.
'What!' she glanced at her monitor screen. 'Thank heavens the day has at last passed. And my cousin won't be coming home today.'
'Cool! If you don't mind, can you come along with me on my bike? This time it's not a walkable distance.'
'Adarsh, is it necessary to go now? Can't we go some other day?'
'Never! I promised I will give a happy ending to your day. I have to fulfil it.'
'But I don't think you can.'
'May I know why?'
'Because the day has come to an end.'
'Madam, the day ends only after we reach home.'
'Let's go. I don't want to stay here even for a minute,' and she made the move. They got into the elevator and went down into the parking lot. Adarsh got onto his bike while Aarti wrapped her face with the scarf and sat on the back of his bike. Driving through the wild traffic Adarsh gently pulled into one of the streets and stopped in front of a restaurant 'Udipi Upahar'.
'Aarti, Give me fifteen minutes. Stay here until I come…' he got down from his bike and ran into the restaurant.
Aarti removed the scarf and wiped her face with a handkerchief. The rumblings of approaching thunder were audible in the distance. She opened her mobile, plugged in the earphones and started listening to the music. Fifteen minutes later, Adarsh emerged from the restaurant carrying two bags in his hands.
'What are these?' asked Aarti, removing her earphones. 'I don't understand what you are trying to do?'
'It's simple, today we are going to change the world,' Adarsh said.
'Changing the world?'
'Just follow me,' Adarsh made the move and they both got onto the footpath. The wind was blowing hard and the street lights started to flicker.
She wondered where they were going. Amidst the bustling crowds of pedestrians, it wasn't easy to walk side by side. At times Adarsh fell a step behind her, but then caught up again. On one occasion, he put a steadying hand beneath her elbow when her high heels stumbled over the uneven concrete blocks of the footpath.
'Adarsh, What's your height?' She asked while keeping her eyes fixed on the path. 'I feel like a dwarf walking next to you.'
'I don't know, but it may be somewhere around six feet.'
'What six feet?' she stopped him holding his hand and stood beside him, trying to measure her shoulder height with his. 'My head didn't cross your shoulder and I had to completely lift my chin to see you. You are not just six feet, but more than that.'
'I think my lean appearance makes me look taller.'
'Whatever it may be? You are taller than Siddharth?'
'Why are you bringing him in between? I already told you he is married,' it sounded like a condemnation.
'Arey! I also know that he has a son. I was just saying you're taller than him. Give me one bag,' she took a bag from him to divert his attention. 'Can you please tell me where we are heading towards?'
Adarsh stopped and looked around. There was one homeless person sleeping on the footpath just a few metres away beside the streetlight pole and turning towards Aarti he said, 'Do one thing,' he picked up a packet from the bag and pointed his finger at the homeless man sleeping on the footpath. 'Give this parcel to him.'
'It's okay, but why?'
'Just do what I say…'
She took the packet from him, slowly walked to the homeless man, and gave it to him. Adarsh was observing her from a distance. After giving the packet she walked back towards Adarsh and stood straight in front of him. Likewise, they began distributing the remaining food parcels to all the homeless people they encountered in their way.
While Aarti placed the last parcel into the hands of the homeless old man who looked so thin and emaciated that he was even struggling to hold the parcel. She noticed the smile on his face and it instantly washed away the sorrow which has been lingering in her mind since morning. She smiled in return and walked back towards Adarsh.
Adarsh looked down into her eyes sparkling with contentment and the smile on her face made her look more gorgeous than ever before. He couldn't pull his eyes away from her.
'Adarsh, What happened?' she said, looking straight into his eyes. 'Why are you looking at me like that? You are staring as if you are seeing me for the first time.'
'You know the glow on your face is enough to brighten up this place. There is no need for this street light,' Adarsh said.
'You will always make fun of me!' she tapped on his shoulder.
'Aarti, when I look into your eyes, I can see that happiness is always standing quietly next to you. There can be nothing prettier on your face, except your smile. Your smile has the power to change the world.'
'Thank you!' She said, feeling a blush spread across her cheeks. He locked his eyes with her and stood there staring at her. He noticed her irises are not completely black but dark brown. He was about to snake his arm around her waist but instantly a movie flashed in his mind in which she was slapping him with her Sandal. He immediately withdrew his hands.
'Now that we are done with the distribution, can you now tell me why we did all these?' Aarti demanded.
'Aarti, no matter how tough the circumstances are, we always have the option to end it as per our wish. If you are not feeling happy then make someone else happy and when you make the other person happy, you will instantly start feeling happy. Happiness is a choice, not a result.'
'So this is what you mean by changing the world? Donating food to the homeless and bringing a smile to their face?'
'Changing the world means not taking the world as a whole. One of the best and easiest ways to create a happier life for yourself is to make other people happier. You see it. You'll feel happier as someone's face lights up with joy. You'll feel happier because you feel you have done a good thing. Helping one person will not change the whole world, but it will change the world for that one person. You don't need to change the world, you just need to change at least one life which is the whole world to them.'
'Amma!' said a voice from behind. An old homeless woman came beside her. Her clothes were shabby. She spoke in a language that she couldn't understand and placed her palm on Aarti's head, blessed her, and walked away.
'What did she say?' asked Aarti, with a puzzling look on her face. 'I didn't understand even a single word.'
'Please don't ask me. She has scolded you. She says you are the worst person that she has ever seen in her life.'
'What! The way and the manner in which she talked and behaved, I don't believe that she scolded me.'
'See this is the magic of Kindness. You couldn't understand what that old woman spoke, and still, you comprehended it precisely. Love and Kindness are the two most powerful forces on this planet which don't require any language and script. And that old woman indeed blessed you. This is the easiest way to win over the day. If the beginning is not good then make the ending good by making others happy. It's as simple as ABC,' he pulled out his mobile from his pocket. 'And my mother always used to say - "when you give, you will always get more in return"'
'Adarsh I am really lucky to have a bestie like you. Thank you so much for making this day amazing. How much did you pay for these parcels?'
The winds picked up the momentum followed by lightning and thunder.
'Forget about it! I think it's going to rain. It's better to get back home before the rain takes over.' Adarsh began walking towards the restaurant with long steps where he parked his bike. Aarti was hurrying to keep pace with his long strides.
Adarsh dropped Aarti at her apartment gate.
'Your home has come,' said Adarsh, looking at her face in the mirror. 'Now, the day has come to an end officially.'
'Thank you so much. The beginning was catastrophic but the ending was fantastic,' she stepped off the bike. 'Adarsh, can you tell the only thing which travels faster than light?'
'I think time?'
'No! It's Saturday and Sunday.'
'Well! Just wait for a minute, I forgot to give you one thing,' he pulled his backpack to the front. unzipped it, and took out a yellow envelope. His hand began trembling. 'Take it, this is for you.'
'What is this?' she asked, taking the envelope into her hands. 'And, Why is your hand trembling?'
'Read it and you will understand,' he started his bike and made a quick exit from the spot before she could ask more about it.
She stood still for a minute and stared at the envelope for a few seconds. She thought of opening the envelope and reading it there itself but the rain forbade her. She immediately ran into her apartment for the cover.
It's better to read after getting into the flat.