The Day The State Split Asunder - 26
The Day The State Split Asunder - 26
Adarsh and Karthik reached "The Paradise" restaurant which serves traditional Hyderabadi, Indian and Chinese continental delicacies. They surveyed the restaurant looking for Sanjana and Roshni. They were seated at the corner end and were discussing something with each other.
'Sanjana and Roshni, you both did an excellent job today!' Karthik cheered them as he sat down.
'I don't want to take any undue credit. Throughout time, Sanjana was negotiating. I saw the effort that she has poured in to ensure we didn't miss even a single point. She is a first-class rhetorician, and I mean it,' Roshni said, patting Sanjana's shoulder.
'Good job, Sanjana. We are proud of having you as a part of our crew,' Adarsh praised Sanjana. He removed his long black overcoat and hung it on the back of his seat.
'Kudos Sanjana!' Karthik complemented.
'Thank You Adarsh and Karthik, I just did my job. Had I not been given an opportunity, I wouldn't be able to prove myself. Many companies denied giving me the offer as I am a fresher. I am lucky to work in a cordial atmosphere, which is very rare in today's corporate world,' Sanjana replied in her most polite voice.
'The people who didn't give you the offer will repent for their impertinence. But I feel happy that they rejected you, else we would have missed you,' Adarsh said.
Sanjana broke into a gentle laugh, and her eyes sparkled with contentment. Her smile was dazzlingly beautiful.
I wish I could talk to her alone, I am ready to trade anything in return to see her smiling always and forever. Karthik throughout the time was observing her.
Roshni glanced at Karthik for an instant before turning towards Adarsh. Karthik was smiling to himself, looking up at Sanjana and down on the table. She could sense that he was expecting the chance to talk alone with Sanjana.
'Oops!' Roshni exclaimed and then added, 'Adarsh, I forgot to tell you. My uncle invited you and me for dinner tonight. I forgot about it.'
'Roshni! You are telling it now?' Adarsh said and opened his eyes wide.
'We can pick up a fight later!' Roshni quietened him, showing her hand. 'Karthik and Sanjana, I am sorry. You both have your dinner and then make a move.'
'Roshni, maybe we all can have it some other time, I will also leave for my home,' Sanjana said to Roshni.
'No! No! Have your dinner!' Roshni commanded in her authoritative tone.
'Karthik and Sanjana, I am so sorry for leaving you in between,' Adarsh became exasperated. He took his credit card from his wallet and gave it to Karthik. 'Both of you, enjoy your dinner.'
Roshni and Adarsh stormed out of the restaurant in a hurry and moved to the parking lot.
'Roshni, if you know your uncle has asked us to come, then why did you plan this dinner?' Adarsh said in an irritating tone.
Roshni slammed on his shoulder. "You still didn't understand the matter?" She raised her eyebrows at him.
'Now I understand,' Adarsh said, 'So where shall we go now?'
'Anywhere!' Roshni and Adarsh got into the car.
'What about going to a disco?' Adarsh asked as he started the engine.
'Let's rock,' Roshni reacted with enthusiasm, and Adarsh drove the car away from the place.
Karthik on the other side was celebrating deep inside. His heart flew fifty thousand feet above the ground, wandering in the sky in search of cloud nine. He has been desperately craving for a moment like this to know about her and today fortune yielded in his favour. He looked at her face. He could sense nothing except ambivalence with no signs of nervousness and excitement.
'How was your day?' Karthik finally broke the ice.
'The beginning was horrible! The clients were bombarding us with lots of questions, one after the other. Roshni and I had to skip our lunch. But all's well that ends well. I am happy that they finally agreed to sign a contract with our company,' Sanjana replied in a weak tone.
'Let's order something first,' Karthik said, sensing the weakness in her tone. 'What do you like to eat?'
'Let me see the menu,' Sanjana took the menu in her hand. 'I want chapati with Malai Kofta.'
'That's it? What about biryani? This restaurant is famous for Hyderabadi Dum Ki Biryani,' Karthik said.
'No! I am a vegetarian,' Sanjana replied with an ugly, twisted expression on her face, 'If you want, you order it.'
'I am also a vegetarian,' Karthik said.
'Your order sir,' the waiter arrived at their table.
Karthik ordered Chapati along with Malai Kofta. The waiter wrote the order on his notepad and walked away from the table.
'I think marketing is full of challenges,' Karthik said after the waiter left. Relief washed over him. It seemed Sanjana was willing to communicate. 'I would say it is one of the toughest jobs. Marketing is the lifeblood of any organisation. Without it, the company will sink.'
'Well, do you want me to be frank about marketing?'
'What is that?'
'I can summarise marketing in one word, nonsense,' she said, stressing on the word nonsense. 'That's right. The key lies in tricking the clients, to make them believe that they're getting more value for their money. Let me give you an example. When you visit the cinema. Say you want to buy some popcorn; the small option costs 30 Rs, the Standard costs 45, but the Large costs just 50. Most people would prefer large at just 5 Rs more than medium, who wouldn't? But the strategy changes from one client to another.'
'I see. This is the reason for segregating sales in three different categories?' Karthik asked.
'Yes!' She continued, 'Don't think I hate this job. I love this job and I mean it.'
'Hey, I don't think like that. Everyone has their own opinions. I also used to feel the same about development. But in case if I am stuck somewhere in between, I can post my problem in Stack overflow and several other online communities to my rescue. But marketing is a completely different world. Every person is unique and you need to revise your strategy for every client.'
'So sweet!' Sanjana said, with a grin. 'Thank you for understanding our problems.'
'I learned that we should always put ourselves in someone else's shoes to understand their problems.'
'Everyone should learn it because there might be just more to the story than you realize,' She blinked her eyes in serenity, 'for how long have you been working with Adarsh.'
'Adarsh is my best friend. I knew him even before he started the company. He is a hardworking person. He sleeps for only four hours.'
'Not every CEO is as cool as him,' Sanjana said.
The waiter arrived and placed the chapati along with Malai Kofta on their table. Sanjana placed two of the chapatis on her plate.
'Where do you live?' Karthik asked.
'I live here in Lingampally.'
'Do you stay in a hostel?'
'No! I stay in the room along with my friend.'
'That's good. I know the problems of staying in a hostel.'
'Yes, really,' she said, stuffing the chapati with kofta. 'But if you stay in a room. You've to do all things by yourself, cooking, cleaning and washing…'
'That's correct, but if we want something, we have to lose something,' Karthik said. It satisfied him as his words had brought a change in her expression.
'Tomorrow being Saturday, what are your plans for tomorrow?'
'The Telangana joint action committee has organised a million march tomorrow. I am taking part in it.'
'Sanjana, are you from Telangana?'
'Yes, I am,' she said. 'We have been fighting for a separate state for sixty years. This time we will not miss it. Our state has suffered enough under Andhra rulers.'
Karthik became silent. If Sanjana gets to know that he is from Andhra, she may eventually lose interest in talking with him as the tensions between the two regions have already reached an all-time high. He picked up a glass of water and gulped it in one shot to reduce his tension.
Sanjana was looking at her plate and wasn't interested in anything, except eating as she didn't have her lunch in the afternoon. Karthik is trying his best to control looking at Sanjana, but he couldn't. She is enjoying her meal while he is enjoying her presence.
In between the meal, Karthik asked her, 'Sanjana! Do you have a boyfriend?'
'What!' She exclaimed in surprise, which resembled a grimace.
His pulse quickened again. 'Sorry! I don't know how to talk with girls, I don't know how to switch the topic as I am not good at politics,' he took a determined step forward to change the subject of the topic, fearing it may lead to further altercations.
Sanjana smiled and said, 'Well! What do you think? Do I have a boyfriend?'
'I don't think you have a boyfriend,' he said in a matter-of-fact tone, looking straight into her eyes.
'On what basis are you telling that?'
'I know face reading! Your eyes say you are searching for someone who loves your soul, but not your beauty.'
'Oh, my God! Then I have to cover my eyes to escape from your face reading,' She laughed.
'Still, you have not answered my question?'
'To make it clear!' She paused for a minute to take a bite of the Kofta ball. Karthik was on tenterhooks and his heart began racing again. 'Right from my childhood,' she continued, 'I studied only in girls' schools and colleges. I didn't get the chance to meet any guy,' She said as if she was disappointed about it.
Her statement transported Karthik to delight. He was thankful for his good fortune. But he tried to act normal. Many times he tried to reach for her attention and today, it became a reality.
'What happened, What are you thinking?' Sanjana said, tapping on the table.
'Nothing!' Karthik came back to his senses, 'You see Sanjana, you're so innocent. You believed me easily. I don't know any face reading. Roshni told me you trust others easily.'
'So whatever you said so far is just a lie?'
'Yes! Sometimes we have to lie to know the truth.'
'You must be a professional in dealing with girls.'
'Hey! I am not an efficient and bold conversationalist like you.'
'Okay, now you know enough about me, now tell me about yourself. Do you have a girlfriend?'
'No! Actually, in my B. Tech, I had a crush on my classmate.'
'Oh then what happened,' she asked with curiosity.
'Nothing! It was just a simple crush. In the last semester, she came up with her marriage invitation. She got married just three months ago. Relationships are not in our hands, it is under the sole discretion of destiny.'
'Did you find anyone after that?'
'No, I didn't find anyone so far.'
'Don't worry! Believe in destiny, it will find someone for you,' she said, wiping her hands with the tissues.
'Thank you, madam!' Karthik said. 'And do your parents stay in the village?'
'I lost my mother when I was four and my father when I was six,' her face suddenly became morose. 'My uncle took care of me from that moment. He raised me like his own daughter.'
'I am so sorry,' Karthik said. 'You know what, Even Adarsh lost his parents when he was only eleven.'
'Yes! And what do you do during your free time?'
'I read books,' She replied.
'Same pinch again. I also read books during my free time. We have many things in common,' he continued, 'I think you are the female version of myself and I am the male version of you…'
'What! Come again, I didn't get you,' Sanjana said.
'Ah nothing I was just saying that we have a common interest in books,' Karthik said, gulping a glass of water.
'What is your favourite book?' she asked.
'My favourite book is "The Alchemist".'
'Wow! The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho. That book inspired millions around the globe to pursue their dreams. Do you have it?' She completed eating the last piece on her plate.
'I have. I will get it for you on Monday,' he said, 'Do you need anything?'
'It's enough!' she replied.
The waiter arrived at their desk, and Karthik requested the bill. A minute later he came there holding a swiping machine in his hand. Karthik paid the bill with the credit card given by Adarsh. Moments later they walked out of the restaurant and walked towards the Shilparamam road. Sanjana was adjusting her hair, holding the hairpin in her mouth.
'Thank you so much Karthik, it was nice talking to you.'
'Pleasure is mine.'
'Can I join the protests?'
'Sure anyone is welcome and by the way, where are you from? Are you from Andhra?'
'I am not from Andhra,' he said, modifying his accent to sound like a Telanganite.
'But your slang resembles Andhra?'
'I was born and raised completely in Hyderabad,'.
'So you are a Hyderabadi and your parents?'
Why is this girl serious about knowing my ethnicity? Which name shall I say? Then he recollected the village name where his uncle works.
'Sanjana, my parents are from "SattuPally" village, Khammam district.' SattuPally is a small town present in the Khammam district of the Telangana region.
'I see! So you are also from Telangana. Khammam district has a lot of Andhra settlers and even the slang there completely matches with that region.'
'You are right. Andhra is just a ninety-minute drive from that village. That's why you can see a lot of people from Andhra moving to and fro.' He was shivering inside for giving false information about his nativity and it became apparent that the more she asks the more are the chances of being caught. So he swiftly changed the topic. 'Can you give me your number so that I can contact you once I reach the tank bund?'
'Sure and by the way I am the vice-president of Telangana Women's Joint Action Committee,' Sanjana gave her number. She spotted a bus from a distance. 'The bus is coming, will see you at the tank bund bye.'
The bus stopped at the point where they were standing. He was happy that he had received a sign. She stepped into the bus, waving her hands with an enchanting smile.
Karthik stood rooted on the spot for a little while, staring at the bus until it went out of sight. His vehicle is at the office and it is near to the restaurant. He went on foot so he could make the plan to make his Sunday exciting with Sanjana.
Until an hour before I wasn't sure about my feelings for you, but now I feel I am in love… I love you Sanjana! I can't wait till Sunday! O girl, what you did to me…
You may not plan for some things in your life, but your destiny will take you there.