The Day The State Split Asunder-21
The Day The State Split Asunder-2114 mins 69 14 mins 69
After finishing her lunch, Aarti straight away walked into Tarun's cabin with a trembling and apprehensive heart as Tarun never asks anyone to meet him in person, unless there's a matter of serious concern which usually results in nothing except admonitions.
"Sir, you told me to meet," said Aarti.
"Hello, Aarti," Tarun turned at her. "Why are you standing? Take the seat."
"Ok Sir," Aarti sat on the chair.
"Aart just give me a minute, I am sending an email. Please don't mind. You know my memory is a black hole... I have to do it now... else I will forget it…" he smiled and turned back to his screen.
"It's ok sir…" Aarti said.
His workspace is completely disorganized with bits of paper hanging higgledy-piggledy on the glass walls and his desk was a complete mess with lots of sticky notes, notepads, and other stationaries scattered randomly. The dust bin at the corner was overflowing with junk. A few silent moments passed before his brown piercing eyes flickered in her direction.
"Aarti, had your lunch?" asked Tarun.
"That's good. I suppose Adarsh might have already spoken about the errors that crept into our application on Wednesday's publication. Besides the fact that it was flat-out gross, it was also depressing. From what I could see from the code written by you, just copy-pasted it from Google. There's nothing wrong with it. But at least you need to verify the authenticity of the code."
A wave of inexplicable anger washed over her, which she immediately quelled. Whatever has passed has passed why you're serving the old food on a new plate she thought.
"Aarti! I want your explanation," he remarked at her silence. "Have you tested the changes after the publish? We would have averted it on that day itself. We have lost one valuable day in fixing it. What stopped you from testing it?"
"Sir... I forgot to test it…" her voice trailed off and her eyes widened slightly with nervousness.
"It is not acceptable… How can you simply say that I forgot? Do you understand how fatal it would have been? Tell me what has stopped you from testing the changes post-publish. There can be only two answers. Either you might have been confident… or maybe overconfident about yourself that there will be no issues or you didn't care about it. Whatever it may be, we would have paid the ultimate price for your hubris."
His tone was commanding and the verbal bullets from him are raining interminably. She looked a little unsettled trying to decide what to say and how to say it. She was struggling to gather and orient her disorganized thoughts.
"Aarti!" he said, his eyes almost stern. "I am talking to you…"
"Yes sir, I will try not to repeat it in the future…" she returned.
"See Aarti, a mistake repeated more than once is simply a decision. It's important to take ownership of your work."
"And also whenever you face any error don't simply copy-paste the error message in Google. Don't trust all the remedies suggested on Google. How and Why, one asks, and continues to ask is the nexus between knowledge and wisdom. There are three basic steps of problem analysis. Get the facts, analyze the facts, and Arrive at a decision. Got it?"
"Yes, sir," she said, clasping her hands.
"Am I saying baba black sheep have you any wool or what... You're just repeating yes sir... yes sir… And no need to call me sir, call me Tarun. I told you many times…" there was a notification on his desktop, a message on skype. "It's ok Aarti. I have spoken enough. You can get back to your work…"
Aarti walked back to her desk and sat on her chair. Her face turned red with embarrassment and was breathing heavily through her mouth like an angry dragon.
Mr. God are you okay up there? Are you feeling happy? Is there anything still pending? She thought.
There's no way she could get answers to her worries. The plaintive and cheerless melody continued playing in her mind and her thoughts began wandering like an aimless mariner lost in the middle of the sea, trying to find a way out without a compass. She desperately needed a change and she was unable to get it.
She began fidgeting with her clothes and hair, pressing the keys on her keyboards randomly and at times letting out grunting sighs. Adarsh was observing all her movements from his desk.
"Aarti! What did Tarun say?" Adarsh asked, slowly pulling his chair towards her. "Did Tarun say anything?"
"Adarsh! I'm brassed off with this day. Morning the cab guy, next Siddharth and now Tarun," her voice was dull. "Tell me one thing. You've been observing my work for more than four months. Am I a good developer or a good Googler? Should I look for a new career path? I want a frank answer"
"Why are you talking like that?" Adarsh said. "You're a good developer, there's no doubt about it."
"Really? Please tell me frankly. You're the only person whom I trust a lot in this company..."
"See Aarti, No one has the right to judge you as a bad developer when searching on Google for code. No developer can confidently say that they can complete a project without having to search Google a few times. There will be times when we need help, and in most cases, there will always be someone on this planet who has encountered the same problem and solved it. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel once it has been resolved and applied successfully."
"So there's nothing wrong in copy-pasting the code from Google?"
"Learning is about finding and understanding. But if you just skip the understanding part and only focus on finding, then it's your failure."
"I don't know what to say. But still, I am not happy about this day. Right from the morning things are going awry. I wish things would have been-"
One of her team members, Prakash came to her desk. "Aarti can you please test your changes quickly?"
"Once Again! No! It is killing me…" she exclaimed, banging her fist on the desk. "I already checked it in the morning. This is the second time you are asking me to do it. I can't do it again..."
"It's a standard procedure and we have to follow," Prakash said.
"Prakash, I already tested it," said Adarsh. "You can proceed with the publish."
"Thank you…" said Prakash and he left.
"Aarti! I always wanted to ask you one question? Why do you hate doing things for the second time?"
"I don't know and I can't explain why. I have been like that since my childhood. Like Kryptonite to Superman I have an anathema towards repetition and please don't begin your lecture again. I have had enough of today. Please..." she crimped the corner of her notepad in annoyance.
"Okay... Okay... Cool… relax. I am sorry if my words have hurt you. Let's meet in the evening…" he gently tapped on her palm and went back to his desk.
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 stared sullenly at her but refused to eat while Adarsh wolfed down everything that was set in front of her and resumed with his work until the clock struck seven.
"Aarti! It's time for us to go…" said Adarsh. "It's already seven."
"What!" she glanced at her monitor screen. "Thank heavens the day has at last passed..."
"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 fulfill it," he took his backpack.
"But I don't think you can."
"What compelled you to say that?"
"Because it's already seven. The day has come to an end."
"Madam Aarti… The day ends only after we reach home."
"But is it necessary to go by bike? Can't we take a cab or auto? What if anyone sees both of us together?"
"Are you living to impress others? Forget about what everyone else thinks and says. If it makes you happy, do it. Tell me are you happy coming with me or not? If you are not happy then let's abandon this idea," He stroked his chin like he was trying to make sense of it himself. "Simply! Your life, Your choice Aarti..."
He looked at her eyes, trying to find the answer to his question and she smiled.
"You're a magician," Aarti said with a feeble smile. "Somehow or the other, you will turn the tables to your side."
"Hamma!" A spark of electricity buzzed through him. That's exactly what he wanted. "I have seen you laughing for the second time today. It is very difficult to survive if you are as sensitive as mimosa."
"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 small restaurant 'Udipi Upahar'.
"Aarti, can you get down?" he said.
"I already told you I don't want to have dinner," she said. "My cousin will be waiting for me. In the morning you said it's not going to be dinner."
"I promise I will drop you at your home by ten and for your information we didn't come here to have dinner."
"Then for what?
"I can get down only if you can… I have a small job here," Adarsh pleaded with her.
She stepped down. "Which work do you have here?"
"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. She could feel the heat and humidity coming at her in waves. 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 in his hands which aroused her curiosity.
"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..."
"Changing the world?" she asked in surprise while taking one bag from his hand.
"Just follow me…" Adarsh said and he made a move.
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. "You know, I feel like a dwarf walking next to you."
"I don't know, but it may be somewhere around six feet. I never gave the thought of measuring my height."
"What six feet?" she stopped him by holding his hand and stood beside him, trying to measure her shoulder height with his. "My head didn't cross your shoulder and I have to completely lift my chin to see you. You are not just six feet, but more than it."
"I think my lean appearance makes me look taller. I don't think I am above six feet."
"Whatever it may be? You are taller than Siddharth?" she bit her index finger. Subconsciously she compared Adarsh's height with Siddharth's.
"Why are you bringing our boss in between?" he said, staring at her with interest. "I already told you he is married."
"Arey! I know and you also said 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 let me know where we are heading?"
Adarsh stopped and looked around. There is one homeless person sleeping on the footpath just a few meters away beside the streetlight pole.
"Aarti, do one thing," he picked up a packet from the bag and pointed his finger to the homeless man sleeping on the footpath. "Give this packet to him."
"It's okay, but why?"
"Just do what I say..."
She took the packet from him, slowly maneuvered towards 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. He looked into her eyes and he could see the signs of contentment, illuminated intrinsically.
"I am done… What's next?" she asked him in a cheery tone. "See we have to "
"Aarti, let's go, we still have a lot of packets to distribute…"
She watched him for a while longer and then nodded. "Let's do it fast, I am getting late..."
They started moving and distributed the remaining food parcels to all the homeless people they encountered in their stroll. While she was giving the packet into their hands, she noticed the joy in their faces. The dullness on her face which has been lingering on her face the entire day is no longer buoyant.
Adarsh looked into her eyes again. This time her eyes were sparkling bright and the smile on her face seemed natural. She looked 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 your smile is enough to brighten up this place. There is no need for this lamp post."
"Come on," she tapped on his shoulder. "Words like these might be flattering on celebrities, but not on me."
"Who said that you're not a celebrity. You have got such a wonderful and beautiful smile. 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," he spoke eloquently of her smile.
"So sweet of 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 and pull her closer but instantly a movie flashed in his mind in which she was slapping him with her Sandal. He placed his hand in his phat pockets.
"Now that we are done with the distribution, can you now tell me why we did all these?" Aarti asked.
"I will not tell you, I will show you..."Adarsh unbuttoned his shirt sleeve and pulled it up. "Do you see these scars?"
"What are these scars?" she asked, staring intently at those bruises.
"I am thankful for these scars. They have taught me a very important lesson which introduced me with the magical power to transform any bad day into a good day..."
"What is that magical power?"
"A year ago, a group of robbers attacked me. In that process, I picked up a fight with them and they injured me in the fight," he pulled his sleeve down and buttoned it. "They took away all my belongings and even attacked me with pepper spray. I couldn't open my eyes for a long time and I was lying on the road squirming in pain. A passerby came to my rescue and took me to his home. He gave me the necessary first aid. I cried the same in front of him - 'Why do things like these happen to me?'. Do you know what he said?"
"How would I know?"
"He said - 'Feel happy that at least they didn't kill you. It is only on bad days like these we have to count our blessings. No matter how tough the day may be, we always have the option to end it as per our wish.' He taught me a very important lesson that I would never forget. Every day he distributes food to at least one homeless person. He took me along with him and asked me to give a food parcel to the homeless woman who was sleeping at the bus stop. I did as he said. And yes, he was right, an unknown happiness fermented in my mind instantly which made me forget about the tragedy that happened exactly an hour ago. The smile of that homeless woman is still fresh in my mind."
"So this is what you mean by changing the world?"
"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 other life which is the whole world to them."
"Amma!" said a voice from behind. The doddering old homeless man came towards her. His clothes were shabby and he started speaking something in the Kannada language. He placed his palm on her head, blessed her, and walked away.
"What did he say?" asked Aarti, with a puzzling look on her face. "I didn't understand even a single word."
"Please don't ask me..."
"Because she has scolded you."
"What!" she crossed the arms on her chest. "No, she didn't… You're lying."
"Do you know Kannada?"
"No. But I don't believe the fact 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 you are right, that old woman had indeed blessed you. See, 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-"
Aarti interrupted him. "Adarsh! I will complete the remaining dialogue..."
She cleared her throat. "My mother said when you give, you will always get more in return."
"That's wonderful, your highness," he bowed his head before her as if she was a queen.
"Stupid fellow! Get up we are on the road..."
He stood up. "Aarti! Use your smile to change the world. Don't let the world change your smile."
"Adarsh I am really lucky to have a bestie like you. Thank you so much for making this day amazing. How much bill did you pay for these parcels?"
"Forget about it," the winds picked up the momentum followed by lightning and thunder. "I think it's going to rain. It's better let's get back home before the rain takes over…"
"Tell me the bills-"
"We are already running late. I have to drop you at your home before ten. Let's go..." and he began walking towards the restaurant with long steps where he parked his bike. Aarti was hurrying to keep pace with his long strides.
Adarsh and Aarti sat on the bike and thirty minutes later Adarsh stopped his bike in front of 'The SkyView Castle' Apartments 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 is fantastic," she said while stepping down the bike. "Adarsh, can you tell the only thing which travels faster than light?"
"Hmm… Time?" he returned.
"No! It's the weekend. Saturday and Sunday."
"Well Said! just wait for a minute, I forgot to give you one thing," he pulled his backpack and placed it on the petrol tank of his bike, 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 read it there itself to find the answer to her intriguing questions emanating in her mind. But the rain forbade her. She immediately ran into her apartment for the cover.
It's better to read after getting into the flat she thought. Afterward, she placed the envelope inside her bag and got into the lift.
To be continued...