Things Happen at Work
I was so excited after my ‘date’ with Suryakant that I had to talk to someone. I picked up my phone and stared at it, wondering whom to call. Raghav couldn’t talk coherently these days about anything other than the wedding. Ajay—but Ajay was in Hyderabad with his wife, visiting his parents. Kim had messaged on Friday night that her boyfriend had surprised her by meeting her in office and whisking her away to Kasauli for a romantic weekend—and despite her lavish plans of sleeping the weekend away, she hadn’t seemed in the least disappointed. I decided not to call her on Valentine’s Day. Divya wasn’t yet back from her honeymoon. Besides, I wasn’t sure if she’d understand.
I realised there was one person who would understand my excitement at being friends with a writer I admired. I called my mom.
As always, the conversation didn’t go quite as I had expected. She listened to me talk about Suryakant, but wasn’t actually excited. Maybe because she’d never heard of him.
We talked of other things. She told me a little of what was going on at work. She talked about some neighbours I knew. We made plans for when I would visit her next. Neither of us wanted another two years to pass before we saw each other, and Ma wanted me to go home for Bohag Bihu, in April.
“Let me look up flight fares and my project schedule and plan, Ma,” I told her. “I’ll let you know.”
I ended the call, happy to have caught her in an expansive mood. But I wished again there was someone I could share my excitement about Suryakant with.
“Maybe I don’t have to tell anyone,” said Mandakini. “Maybe this is my secret to keep.”
I smiled. There was one person I could tell. Suryakant.
“Yes! I’ll email him, writing about how much I enjoyed meeting him and hoping to continue the friendship,” said Miki.
“Don’t gush too much and scare him away,” warned Mandakini.
“I won’t. I’ll write just enough. He doesn’t seem the type to be scared away by a little enthusiasm, anyway.
“I’ll write to him tomorrow, first thing, before I start on work at office.”
After a few moments, Miki said, “I need a laptop. “It will help me keep in touch better. It will keep me occupied, give me something to do on weekends.”
“Let’s go buy one this evening,” gushed Mandakini. “I can pay for it in EMIs.”
“No,” warned Miki. “Steer clear of EMIs. Save up for it. You’ve been spending all your money and not saving at all. This will be a good exercise for you. And while you’re at it, you should save something for emergencies too.”
That seemed like a plan.
“What about the fridge?” Mandakini piped in.
Miki’s composure seemed to collapse. “Oh yeah. I need to buy a fridge too… Well, I think I have enough money for that. Let’s go look at that today, and buy one before summer sets in…”
“Actually,” said Mandakini, “an AC would be nice, too…”
“That’s too expensive,” said Miki dismissively.
“Do you remember how hot it gets in summer? How you can’t go out in the day because of the sun, and can’t comfortably stay in either, because the house feels like an oven? Do you remember how you couldn’t get to sleep at night, even after soaking your bedsheet in cold water? And do you realise that this house is going to be much hotter, with the sun beating down from all sides?”
“It does sound tempting,” said Miki wistfully. “Let’s look into it.”
“Maybe Ma will lend me some money,” considered Mandakini.
“Of course she would, but we’re not going to ask her, are we?”
The next few days passed by in a whirl of work. Before I knew it, March had arrived. My project was over, successfully, and I was put on a new, shorter one. The big project deadline was in two weeks, which meant we had to work hard right from the beginning. I wasn’t sure I minded: Raghav’s wedding was next week, and it would be easier to tell him I was busy and couldn’t meet him on weekdays. If he wanted to meet me in the first place, of course.
One evening, just as I was wrapping up to go home, Nilanjana came over and told me that Arunav, who was the vice president of my division, wanted to see me in his room. I walked in behind her, trembling and running over in my head entire lists of things I might have done wrong or clients who might have complained.
Nilanjana sat by while Arunav congratulated me on my promotion. I was promoted! I hardly heard what Arunav said after that, because all the while Miki was going, “Omigod omigod omigod omigod omigod” in my head.
I came out of Arunav’s room and went back to my desk. It was Friday: everyone around me had gone home. I had just missed the nine o’clock cab and would have to wait till the next one at 11. I was too excited to work. I called Raghav, but he disconnected my call and sent an SMS: “Sorry, trying to wrap up work. Flight to Delhi tomorrow morning.”
Of course, Raghav was coming to Delhi for the wedding.
Kim and Ajay had left. Again, I had no one to share my news with.
Again, I called the one person who, I was sure this time, would be thrilled: my mother.
As I ended the call with mom, Nilanjana came over. “Hey,” she said. “I’m leaving. Do you want me to give you a ride home?”
“Sure. Thanks,” I said, and grabbed my bag.