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Nothing(!) By Chance?
Most of us, who’re working, have a groaning droning schedule. Though, intermittently certain occurrences take up the heavenly duty of breaking the monotony of the regular 9 to 9 agenda. But some of these aren’t half as wonderful as a monotony breaking incident is considered to be.
I don’t know if this happens with everyone or not, but sometimes even this change seems repeated. A feeling that it has happened before.
Déja – vu!
But what is happening to me right now, sure is not déja – vu.
I’ve come back to where I had started from. A stranger, in a strange city. No friends, no family, no fun.
It isn’t easy to make friends here. Everybody is so busy in the rut of the working man’s schedule. No time for anything; expanding one’s horizons, knowing new people, all the wisdom provided by the classic prose (called Self help books) is wasted here. You may say that this is because they have no time to read these “holy scriptures”, but even if they would, they don’t have time or space for new people in their lives. Their life is too full for extra baggage. They are not specifically content, but they avoid opening a door to any one. It’s as if everyone moves around with a placard saying – DO NOT DISTURB!
I had only one assurance and that is the only reason I had come here. Job assurance.
I nervously entered my office. Times Of India, entertainment section. That small journey from the door to the boss’s office, was like a ramp walk. ‘All eyes on me’. Looking as if they would not be shocked if I suddenly said – “ET phone home!”
Now I know that everyone who is new is subjected to such inspection by their future colleagues. My boss was a very charming individual. He instantly made me feel at home in the new odd office. I was allotted a workstation towards the centre of the room. Since I graduated in media from MIT, I started writing right away. My first article was due in 15 days. I sat down and wrote it in 3 hours.
5 o’clock. I packed my things and left for home. I had a beautiful high-rise in one of the most posh sections of the city.
For months, this was my schedule. A circuitous never ending journey between office and home. I had no social life. No outings. No mad girls’ nights out. No clubbing.
But then, I was promoted. I went to the more responsible section, the crime news. First day into the new building, I made 4 friends. We instantly struck up a camaraderie. Raj, Annie, Katy and Vishal.
Maybe because we were all in our 20s. The only ones in the office who were so young and new to the job. And we all had the same fears and insecurities, crises and upheavels…
Raj and Vishal were in my building. Katy and Annie had rented flats, but were unhappy with their landlords. Their incessant grumbling, limits, rules, regulations, unnecessary advice and interference of this particular breed of the human species is well recognized and was getting to them. When they came over to my apartement, it was a haven of peace them.
I was very lonely alone in the 3 bedroom flat which even had a small pool in the balcony. I asked them to come and stay with me. I didn’t ask for rent. We just split the expenses for food and other necessities.
They moved in with me.
All of us were content. Like one family of fish, in an ocean. My social life improved. We went out every Saturday. Had Uno sessions every night after work. Had loads of fun. This became a schedule. But one I loved. Where’s dullness when with friends?
A year passed. Our friendship grew and we became kind of Siamese quintets, joined in our hearts and souls.
Katy’s birthday was coming.
She loved parties, not the wild types but the quiet, dreamy, candle-lit, piano playing kind (AKA the sophisticated dinner parties).
We planned a treat. We’d give her a surprise dinner in the best hotel in the city. After work, we’d tell her she had to take an interview with a politician staying in the hotel. She’d go there and we’d give her the surprise.
Everything was planned. Perfect.
12 June – Katy’s birthday. 12 o’clock noon. I get a call from my sister who’s in the city. Didn’t tell me before because wanted to give a surprise.
I invited her to come with us for the party. But she was tired and wanted to talk, after all, it had been a year since we’d last met. I tried telling her that it was my best friend’s birthday and I really wanted to go. Endless hours of reasoning did no good. She always got what she wanted. (Never compromised/Emotionally blackmailed)
Having run through my gamut of explanations/ excuses (all to no avail) I cancelled plans with my gang.
We sat at home talking about life in general. I was hardly listening and was very unresponsive. I was imagining the fun my gang having together. Even in the politest, ‘proper’ environments they could make outings fun. I had the best time of my life with them. And there they were having the time of their lives and I was stuck at home talking to my sister about “LIFE”. Just where was she when I was alone here, when I needed company?
We ordered dinner.
After dinner, as we snuggled up in bed, I switched on the TV. I never saw news channels as I was in a newspaper agency. MTV, Movie channels and the likes were the ones I saw. But that day while channel surfing, I stopped on a news channel.
What I saw there has inflicted a lesion so deep in my heart that it would never heal, ever .
Taj in ruins!
Bombing in the Taj!
Terrorists firing on guests!
Taj. The hotel where my best friends had gone. Katy’s birthday treat. The awesomest plan ever.
No one saved!
This one statement broke whatever hope I had.
It was Katy’s birthday. She couldn’t even live to see the end of the day. My guardian angels were no more. Till today, I’ve never had such great friends. My apartment was difficult to live in after that. I couldn’t let go of Katy and Annie’s belongings. Their aura in the flat haunted me. Their desks in the office distracted me. I would often start crying all of a sudden. Saturday night memories made me avoid going to any of the places we’d been together to.
The day I had gone to the hospital to look for their bodies, I lost all tolerance. The blood, scars and burns on the faces I loved so much, broke me into a million pieces.
It’s been a year since then.
I survived. Maybe less but nothing more than that.
They had helped me when I was lost, but I couldn’t help them when they lost the battle against death.
I’m back to feeling lost, like I did 2 years back.
Nothing changed, except the fact, that now I feel that there’s something missing in me.
An essence gone, it’s life and soul departed.