The Day The State Split Asunder - 29
The Day The State Split Asunder - 29
The next day in the office, he walked towards Sanjana's cubicle, holding a book in his hand.
'Hope I am not disturbing you?' Karthik said.
'Hi, Karthik!' Sanjana turned and smiled at him. Today she was dressed in Red T-shirt and Black jeans.
'So how was your day so far?'
'Every time you keep asking me the same question. It's hardly been only an hour since I arrived,' she said, adjusting and locking her long hair with a rubber band.
'Take this,' he placed the book on her desk.
'Thank you so much!' she said, taking the book into her hands.
'You know what, the way in which I found this book is not less than a fairy tale.'
'Is it? How?'
'A few months ago I went for an interview at an office. I first came across this title on their small library shelf. Subsequently, I got a job in Bangalore and started my journey to that city. While I was about to get down from the bus I saw this book lying on the walkway. I asked the driver to keep this book with him in case someone calls and asks them for the book for them to which the driver replied - "Sir, we are not responsible for the luggage. And moreover, fifty members have walked through the same way. They didn't pick up the book. But you did. Maybe the book has picked you, instead of you picking it".'
'Interesting! Maybe the book has picked you as that driver said.'
'I think I have some kind of magical connection with this book. When I came across this book for the first time, I got a job. Later I gave this book to Arnold and we became best friends and indeed he succeeded in starting a company and now I am giving this to you. So, let's see what luck this book brings in your life. Maybe you might become a millionaire.'
'I don't have any dreams of becoming a millionaire,' she ran her hands on the cover of the page tracing her fingers along the great pyramids. 'These pyramids are really amazing.'
'Really! Though they didn't have any good scientific equipment in those days the Egyptians managed to build it.'
'What is this story about?' She was about to turn the page backwards to read the summary.
Karthik stopped her. 'Sanjana, let's play a small game. Tell me what you think this story would be about?'
'How can I tell that?'
'This is just a game. A creative game. Imagination is more important than knowledge.'
'I think it's going to be...' she paused and gazed at the cover page and then at the title. 'Alchemists are the people who are experts in transforming lead into gold. Maybe the protagonist in the story wanted to become rich. He comes to know about the magical process 'Alchemy' which has the power to turn anything into gold and he dreams of becoming an alchemist. He then decides to learn the process and become an alchemist.'
'OMG! Do you already know the meaning of the word Alchemist? I didn't even know about the word 'Alchemist' until I came across this book.'
'Is my plot correct or not?'
'Read and find it by yourself. I must admit you really have a very good imagination,' he clapped his hands slowly in appreciation.
'Thank you! Thank you!'
'Karthik!' his team member called him.
'Sanjana! I will get back to you again later. Enjoy the book.'
Around 06:00 PM in the evening Karthik received a text message from Sanjana: Shall we go out. I feel like eating Pani puri.
'Sure,' he replied.
They both reached the pani puri stall which is just present straight in front of their office building.
'Karthik, shall we have a bet,' Sanjana said. Something was cooking inside her head and she looked excited like a kid.
'A bet?' Karthik was surprised. 'What kind of bet?'
'Whoever eats more Pani Puri has to pay one thousand rupees to the winner.'
'What?' Karthik was shocked to hear the challenge. 'Have you lost your mind?'
'Why?' She was laughing. 'Are you scared?'
'No! Not at all!'
'Then we are on. At my college festival, we once had this pani puri competition. I won that challenge.'
'How many did you eat?'
'Fifty! I think you might have fallen sick after that.'
'No, I didn't. I have never fallen sick later.'
'Let me see how good you are at eating. Prove that you are better than me.'
'If and but are for faint-hearted people. Confident people do not have that word 'but' in their dictionaries.'
'Okay. I agree. I am confident I will win,' Karthik accepted, charged up.
After all, when a girl throws a challenge like that, it becomes a question of honour. There was no turning back. They started eating Pani Puri. It was a slow and steady start for both but soon speed picked up. It did not take long to figure out who would win. Sanjana became an eating machine putting two pieces of puri in her mouth at a time when Karthik was struggling to eat one.
It was unimaginable how this tender girl could gobble these many puri's. Soon he realised that she was going to beat him. Karthik couldn't eat beyond twenty. By then she already consumed thirty-seven.
'I declare I lost the bet, I am surrendering,' Karthik said. He had tried his best to beat her at eating.
'You lost! But I still feel like eating,' Sanjana could not stop giggling. She teased him and kept laughing.
'Sanjana, you are really naughty.'
'Karthik, we should never lose the kid in you. We have to honour our inner child by losing ourselves in inner pleasures. Then only we can lead a happy life.'
'That's perfect. One thing I love about being a child is we make friends easily without thinking about caste, creed, religion and region.'
'Truly Karthik. But my childhood is not like yours. I have spent my entire life in hostels right from school until college.'
'Your uncle didn't take good care of you?'
'No! It's not like that. He really took care of me like his own daughter. He even joined his elder daughter in the same hostel. You know about the restrictions in girl's hostels. I didn't get any chance to enjoy my school days. It was only after joining the college I got the opportunity to explore myself.'
'Why didn't any guy propose to you in college?'
'Karthik!' she laughed. 'I studied in a women's college.'
'So you didn't get to experience the true colours of life?'
'I don't know anything about different colours of life. What I know about life is it is just a plain canvas and you are the artist. It is completely up to you whether you want to paint a beautiful picture or anything.'
'Hmm… Well said Madam Philosopher,' he tried to humour her, playing on a new nickname.
'Karthik,' she patted on her shoulder.
'Did you start reading the book?'
'No, I didn't start. I was busy preparing the case study reports. I will start reading once I reach home.'