A New Year
I was back in Gurgaon on the 3rd of January. It was a new year, and I had never been lonelier.
Thankfully, I was put on a new project and I had plenty of work. I was team lead for the second time. (The last time had been on the project where Vikram had worked with me.) But this was a bigger team and a more complex project. Nilanjana, my manager, hinted that my performance on this project might decide whether I would get a promotion at my review due in March. The project was in two phases: the first phase was to be completed in six weeks, and if the client was satisfied we would embark on phase two, to be completed in nine weeks.
The project was in consumer goods, which was the industry I was most interested in, and I threw myself into it with pleasure. I had a great team: Kim again, Shahnaz who I’d never worked with but was friendly with because we had joined at the same time and gone through orientation together, Paras who was quiet and very sincere, Meenal and Chandrasekhar whom I had never spoken to before, and Amol and Vaibhav, who had just joined a couple of weeks ago and who stuck together like Siamese twins.
Divya and I took to having lunch together for the few days she had left.
“I miss you,” she said. “It feels so weird being alone at home.”
“Well, you don’t have much longer.”
“That’s right. Tuesday is my last day in office and I’m planning to go home on Wednesday.”
“I’ll come over next weekend and help you pack, shall I?”
“I don’t need help, but do come anyway,” said Divya. “Mom and my youngest brother Veer are coming to help me out. They’ll come on Saturday.”
“I’d like to meet your mom,” I said.
“Yeah, you never did come home with me, all the times I asked,” she said. “Never mind. You have to come over a few days before the wedding, though. I’ll need help.”
“I’d love to.”
“Will you?” said Miki.
“Oh, come on,” said Mandakini. “A wedding won’t kill you. After all, she’s been so nice to you.”
We finished our lunch and got up from the table. I almost bumped into Vikram.
“Hey,” he said, holding out his hand to steady me.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
“Happy new year,” he answered. “I haven’t seen you in ages. Where have you been?”
“I was off home. Only got back a couple of days ago.” I looked around to see Divya wave at me and walk away.
“Ah. I was wondering what you were doing on New Year’s Eve. I thought I’d call you.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked bluntly. All I’d received from him was an SMS wishing me a “happy and prosperous new year”.
“I thought you might be busy, you know.”
I looked straight at him. “Well, actually, I was. I was with my mom. I hope you had a good time?”
“Oh, a bunch of us got together, had some beers. Nothing special.”
“Okay. See you around, then.” I smiled and walked away.
“Hey, how would you like to go for a movie on Saturday?”
I turned around. “Sorry, I’m busy. I have plans with a friend.”
“Oh, okay.” He looked disappointed.
“I’m free Sunday, though.”
“Great. I’ll call you.”
When I went back to my seat, I saw a chat message from Divya. “How was your date?”
“It wasn’t a date. We were just talking.”
“But we are going to a movie on Sunday.”
“Wow! That’s so exciting!”
“Isn’t it? I’ll tell you all about it when it’s over. Now I have to get back to work else I’ll never go home today.”