Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two Gentle Taps



(A short story I wrote for a contest in 2007. Didn't win though.The Challenge was keeping it below 600 words or so.)

The alarm crowed. A lusty king of the farmyard cock-a-doodle-do. He shut the mobile up. One hour and five minutes was all he had before his day began. He would steal five minutes from that. Look the other way, he told that frowning creature in his soul. I do it all the time. A little corruption. A little bribery. I negotiate with the world 24 /7. So why not an extra 5 minutes of sleep? he told himself and buried his head under the pillow. And so began another day in the life of an Indian.

When Vijay finally woke up it was well past eight. “Oh, God,” he exclaimed panic-stricken. “What have I done?” This time round he was definitely less philosophical about life and the daily issues that came with it. Almost an hour later, Vijay was scrambling across the street frantically, struggling to reach his office on time. He took a Churchgate-bound train and suffered the same plight as most of the other commuters in the crowded compartment. There was the usual shoving and abusing so typical of rush hour life in Mumbai. He got off at Churchgate station, and headed towards Fountain. At length, he reached the familiar, old building inside which he had toiled so hard for seven long years.

There was a gentle tap on the shoulder just as Vijay was about to step into the elevator. He spun around. There was the gorgeous Raveena standing right in front of him.
“Hi Ravs, What’s up?”
“I need to speak to you in private.”
“Can’t it wait? We have a date in the evening remember.”
“Vijay, that’s what I need to speak to you about.”
“Ok. Let’s move up to the first floor landing and talk.”

Ten minutes later a heartbroken Vijay sat on a step in a state of shock. A single tear rolled down his left cheek in sheer agony. What had happened? It was not supposed to end like this. Who was this Pankaj fellow anyways? What could he offer that Vijay couldn’t? Everything was the sad answer. I don’t have a great job. My flat is not all that big either. Ravs always wanted to be driven around in a car.

A short time later, Vijay was once again office bound. He had stopped crying inwardly too. There was no stopping him now. He decided that he would come up in life by hook or by crook, and win his beloved Raveena back. As Vijay entered the office, he could not hear the usual early morning buzz among his colleagues.  “The boss would like to see you in his cabin,” said Shilpa, in a melancholy tone.

“Why are you late again?” yelled Mr. Banerjee, his boss.
“I missed the train, sir” replied Vijay, somewhat lamely.
“You shall miss a part of your salary as well, yaar. Now go and do your Goddamn work.”

No sooner did Vijay begin his work than he felt another gentle tap on his shoulder. This time it was Shilpa.  
She was the beautiful receptionist whom he secretly admired. However, Vijay had not made a pass at her since he had been devoted to Raveena.

“I’m sorry about your pay cut,” said Shilpa, sympathetically.
“Don’t bother about it,” Vijay told her in a feeble voice.
“I like you very much,” Shilpa told him suddenly.
“I like you very much too. Will you go out with me for dinner this evening?”
“I’d simply love to.”
“We’ll meet at Seven o’clock then.”
“I can’t wait.”

That was one rollercoaster of a day, and Vijay never forgot the ride.