Abhay made himself comfortable after he boarded the A/C coach of the superfast train. He had set out on his journey to Mumbai to sign up for his new job as CEO of the Star International. A broad smile played on his lips as he admired his luck to be selected as the CEO of a leading multinational company. Suddenly, his phone rang and he gazed at it. His smile faded as he saw that it was Smriti - his wife. He shook his head as he realized that her complaints were growing both in frequency and intensity for the last few years. He unwillingly tapped on the answer button on his phone with a long face.
"Abhay, promise me you will definitely come home for Isha's birthday party."
"Come on, Smriti!" He scowled, "Why don't you understand my work pressures? I am about to take charge tomorrow in such a big company. There were so many competitors for this post. And it was sheer luck that I got this opportunity. I will have so much work to do and you are asking me to take a day off. How could you even think..."
"And what about us Abhay?" She said cutting him off, "How much time you have spent with your family for the past 10 years of our marriage?"
"But I am toiling so hard only for you and our kids."
"No Abhay, we don't want your money," Smriti was on the verge of tears, "We want your love, presence and some quality time together."
"But I do want the money and success for which I have been working really very hard!" He shouted into the phone and hung up angrily.
He turned around and saw a fellow passenger who has occupied the berth opposite to him.
"I'm sorry sir," Abhay felt ashamed for shouting, "it was just the usual husband wife stuff."
"That's okay," the man said, "I am Vivek Krishnamurthy, the ex CEO of Star International."
"But you were in the hospital, weren't you?" Abhay was astonished to see the man in whose vacancy he was appointed.
"Now, I am relieved of all my pains."
"Are you going to join the company again?" Abhay asked dubiously.
"No dear sir," Vivek shook his head, "I am by no means going to repeat my mistakes."
"Mistakes?" Abhay was bewildered.
"Yes," Vivek nodded, "I stole time from my family and gave it to my work. I was so obsessed with success that I even forgot to take care of my health. I fell ill and the company that I have served so sincerely replaced me within a matter of days. But the family I have always ignored was the one who cared for me and missed me. Now, I badly regret missing out on my children's b'day parties, going on dinner dates with my loving wife and watching our children grow up together."
Vivek was jolted by the whistle of the train, "I have to get down at this station. It was nice meeting you, sir." He shook hands with Abhay and walked away.
Abhay pondered over Vivek's words for the whole night. By the next morning, when it was time for him to get down he had made a firm decision about what he was going to tell his boss.
"I will leave the office immediately after the working hours are over." Abhay told his Boss leaving him agape, "Please don't expect me to do overtimes, no matter how much you are willing to pay me for that. And I will definitely take a day off once in a week. I will work with you only if my demands are acceptable to you."
"As much as I have heard about you, Mr Srivastava," the astonished Boss said, "you seemed to be a workaholic."
"I was one till yesterday." Abhay said with a wide grin, "but your ex employee Mr Krishnamurthy taught me the value of a family yesterday night."
"When did you meet him?" Boss asked as his face turned ghastly pale.
Abhay narrated at length about his meeting with Vivek.
"What was the time then?" A profusely sweating Boss asked.
"The train leaves at 8 o'clock." Abhay said thoughtfully, "So we would have met around that time."
"No, that can't be Mr Srivastava!" Boss shuddered.
"He was seriously ill and was in the hospital for the past few days. He had died last night at 8 pm. Moreover, Mr Srivastava," Boss said pointing at a picture hung in his cabin, "Vivek, whom you see in this picture was a bachelor."
"But," Abhay said as he looked attentively at the picture, "I am one hundred percent sure that this was the man whom I had met on the train last night!"