The Mask Of Pretence
The Mask Of Pretence
Sanya waited with her team for her company’s turn to make the technical presentation to government officials for the corporatization of the aviation regulatory body. It was the first time the country was making this sort of bold attempt, and hence Sanya’s team had no credentials of the sector or domain. Sanya had burnt the midnight oil to source the case studies from the foreign branches of her employer company, put together the approach and timelines document, and worked out the appropriate advisory fees. Today was the result day. She was feeling butterflies in her stomach with the thought of leading the presentation for her firm.
“Team GMPK. Another five minutes before you go in,” someone pronounced from the conference room on the opposite side. Sanya swiftly took out a compact hand mirror from her handbag, combed her hair, applied a fresh coat of lipstick, and got up. She glanced at her team members, who had followed her cue.
The conference room door opened as the lead presenter from the competitive team came out. Sanya froze even as her rival flashed her a wan smile of recognition.
“Sanya! It has been ten years. How are you?”
“How did the presentation go, Karan?” she asked. “Any tips for me?”
Karan’s smile vanished, and lines appeared on his forehead. “Somethings never change,” he said. “Or I should say some people like you. We are meeting after a long time, and you don’t even have the courtesy to exchange pleasantries. Good that I didn’t marry you, after all. My life would have been miserable. Good luck with your presentation, you career woman. Though I must warn you that our firm would be the one to get this assignment.”
Someone coughed behind Karan, and he realized that he was blocking the door. He quickly moved aside and went away as his team members came out. Members from both teams had heard the exchange. There was an awkward silence.
Sanya went inside and greeted everyone. She was a picture of calm on the outside when a storm of emotions was brewing inside her. She waited while the IT person adjusted her laptop for the presentation to be projected in the archaic projector in the conference room.
Yes, she had ambitions. Yes, she want2ed to be on top of her job. Yes, her career was important to her. So was her would-be husband, Karan. Together they would have found a middle path.
But she also loved Prajakta, her best friend. Prajakta also loved Karan and had cried her heart out in front of Sanya.
Sanya could not see her best friend cry. She manufactured artificial situations to nudge her boyfriend away, who then found solace in the arms of her best friend. She had then moved out of Karan’s and Prajakta’s lives forever.
“You have everything. You are the batch topper and will get a good placement. I am struggling to get a decent score to pass, am not interested in placements. Please leave Karan for me.” Prajakta’s voice had again echoed in her ears, after all these years, after she saw Karan today. She wanted to say many things to him but put on an aloof façade instead.
She neither had the energy nor the inclination to find someone else and worked extra hard to compensate for the loneliness.
“Your laptop is set up, Ma’am,” the IT person said.
Sanya took a deep breath, put on her mask of pretense, and smiled at the committee members.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I will take fifteen minutes of your time to explain why GMPK is the best company to partner with you on this monumental initiative….”