He picked up his lunch and moved across the tables towards the end of the room. A few people whom he knew from his last assignment and his roommate, Anand, were sitting on those tables. He instead chose to pretend that he was trying to find someone familiar and passed by. That might sound like a loner to bunch of extroverts at his office but he just wanted a few moments for himself. That's how Vivek was. Happy, witty and jovial amongst the group but always trying to find a few moments of silence in between.
On a Sunday, while playing a game of football on his laptop, Anand shouted at the pitch of his voice “Vivek bro, want to have a slice of pizza? I am going to order one”. A calm voice answered from the lobby outside “OK, order a garlic bread for me”. Enough of conversation for a Sunday afternoon between the roomies. For Anand it was not a happening weekend unlike last one when had they gone out to the club on Saturday night and stayed back at a friend's house, hung-over till this time. This weekend Vivek insisted on giving it a break.
It's been two years now for both Vivek and Anand staying together in that rented apartment and going to the same office every day. They never hated each other neither admired their differences. Being together for them was a way to explore the possibilities of their existence by stepping into each other’s territory for a while. It was kind of a husband wife relationship between the two, which was well organised with defined limits of mutual trespass. There were a few common knots in these entangled ropes such as patience and ability to spend time with themselves.
Anand's parents and sister were visiting the town over next week. His plan was to rent a furnished apartment for 3 days for them to stay. He did not want to disturb Vivek’s routine by inviting them to stay in the third empty room in the house. He had almost finalised the booking when Vivek got to know about it. “Are you out of your mind?” said Vivek with a puzzled expression. “Rather rent a bed for 3 days and make them comfortable in here. Why do you want to spend so much? Rekha didi (the cook) will not mind cooking a little extra when they are here. If aunty is here she can train Rekha didi a bit to make the food homely as well. Get them here it's better, unless you think I will check on your sister.” Anand was relieved and answered with his natural smile “No Vivek! Don’t talk rubbish, you are my brother. Ok I will check for the bed and ask the grocery guy to get some milk packets for a few days.”
Anand was very busy over the weekend and the day after with his family. Literally out of sight! They would leave in the morning after breakfast and come back by dinner time. Vivek noticed they were formally dressed this Monday evening when they came back. “Where did you guys change during the day?" Vivek asked in the night when the friends were alone on the terrace. Anand looked towards Vivek with a shine in his eyes and said “You have been noticing very dearly my friend. We were at my uncle's place in old city and then went to meet the family of the girl they have found for me.” Ohho! So that's the strew in the pan these days. Anand could not utter more for a few seconds. It was a new situation for him as much as it was for Vivek.
"Who is the courageous one to accept the challenge of finding new ways to adjust with you day and night?" Vivek questioned in an awkward fashion. “She is a creative designer in a marketing company, their family is from some place near Mumbai. We have met a few times and I think she is kind of fine for me.” Anand replied and suddenly jumped to ask Vivek if he had been making him so uncomfortable that he must adjust with him day and night. Vivek laughed calmly "Ha-ha no my dear I was just testing your nerves and you proved it again. You are such a woman! I hope this creative designer is able to handle your feminist logics well." “Vivek you do not want me to become a murderer before my wedding, Do you?” Anand replied in an irritated voice. “What’s her name?” Vivek asked while giggling on Anand’s irritation. Anand was silent for a few seconds and then a concern smeared on his forehead. Without looking towards Vivek he announced “Its Tanisha”. Suddenly the stock of discussion topics started slipping from personal to random and finally sinking into silence. “I am feeling sleepy now and going inside. Congratulations again brother, Good Night.” Vivek said in a low tone rising from the old plastic chair. “Thanks dear! I will also go to bed now, Good Night” Anand replied with a sigh.
This was the last night when both were to share the same room. As usual Anand slipped into deep sleep with loud snores in a few moments but Vivek kept trying to calm his nerves for a few hours. Anand's snores were certainly too much to handle for him but tonight it not was just that keeping him awake. Nevertheless, eventually he also lost control on his nerves and entered the dreamland. When the sun was about to show its face to the earth today again, Vivek was sitting in a big room on a chair with a chest on his side. Right in front of him were two cute kittens looking towards him. Their eyes were enough to convey that both wanted him to make a move. He was unsure what to do, there was a sense of fear to ponder into the chest and find a suitable toy for his friends. But he opened the chest with great courage and to his surprise it had a few blank pages in one corner and the rest was empty. He wondered why he was guarding it for so long. His eyes turned and one of the cats had vanished and the other one turned into a little dog, which was slowly walking towards him and exactly then his deep slumber broke. He was lying in his bed confused about the dream he had just seen.
Anand was not there on the bed. He could hear the noise of running water and bags being zipped and unzipped from the next room. Anand’s parents were leaving, Vivek gathered himself and decided to get out of the bed to say goodbye to them. In a few hours both left for office as usual, but today Vivek came back alone since Anand had some work to do after office. This started becoming the new natural over the next few weeks when Anand finally declared the date of his wedding and broke the unofficial news of his promotion. It was a Friday evening so a few phone calls were made and the plan was all set to go out and party. This party was a bit different from the ones in the past. Anand kept taking some phone calls throughout the time till late in the night and Vivek was getting irritated with that. Vivek was a changed person as well tonight. It was not typical of him to be irritated so easily but today his irritation kept coming as a repeated reaction. Despite his mysterious discomfort it went well. All is well if it ends well. Vivek, Anand and a bunch of other friends decided to stay back at their place for an after party and a round of guitar and old Hindi songs.
Next day morning both continued to sleep a little extra after the mob had gone back. Rekha didi was over by the afternoon and the smell of fresh food and empty stomachs dragged them to the living room. For a change, it was Vivek who started the conversation today “Life is being good to you these days, I am so happy for you. Good for you my friend and by the way for me as well or at least I hope so.” “What do you mean?” Anand was puzzled. “There will be someone in my seniors now who will recommend my work” Vivek said and both started laughing. “Hold your horses, let it happen first. You never know I might change soon after that and you have an empty slot to fill in the next promotion cycle” Anand disclosed his secret plan to him. “Ok! That’s a new one now. Brother you are certainly thinking too far. It sounds good, keep me informed” Vivek said in a successful attempt to snap the discussion. Vivek looked to be lost or over engaged in his food during most of the discussion as if trying to hide something.
They were talking to each other and laughing on small jokes but there was an uneasy feeling in the air. Both were aware of it but neither of them wanted to talk about it. A couple of weeks later Vivek announced that he would be moving to a studio apartment next door with a new set of people, instead of sharing the same house. Anand looked concerned for his flatmate but controlled his thoughts and congratulated him. That Friday evening, they had another small party in a fine dining bar before Vivek was to move out on Saturday. After a few drinks Anand gathered the courage and talked out of concern to Vivek “Brother I know it is tough for you but believe me you are taking it too much to your heart. The world is round and coincidences happen in this world every second. Just like this one, I was also startled when I heard the name. But people can have same names right! And you are not a kid not to understand that.” Anand was referring to Tanisha Banerjee, Vivek’s fiancée who happened to work in the same office where he had worked in the past. Their differences had increased in a few months since she was promoted to be his boss and eventually they broke up a month before their wedding. Vivek was listening to him with a smile and said “I am mature enough to understand coincidences and relationships now, at least that’s what I think. I do understand co-incidences happen and I believe there are some natural forces planning them to set the balances right. You know what, I witnessed another one very recently. I got the offer letter from a Canada based accounting firm last week. Now you will not have to change your job as well.” The silence prevailed for a while before they started talking of random topics till late in the night.