Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Bomb

Saurav Daalnani was not a happy man. Perched uncomfortably on the edge of his bed, he twisted his lanky frame to an almost impossible angle, trying to peer myopically outside the open door. “Where the hell is he?!” he thought irritably, looking at the black leather strapped ladies watch on his wrist for the third time in the last one minute. “Its 36 seconds past the scheduled rendezvous time of 12:00 midnight…he should have been here by now!”
Ayush looked down at his watch and gulped. He had overshot his appointment time by a good one minute…Saurav would surely kill him today! Despite the seemingly sinister consequences of him being late registering in his brain, he stood rooted at his spot, unable to zero-in on the best course of action to be taken given the precarious position in which he was. He clasped the document with his white knuckled hands, staring at it, almost as though willing it to decide on his behest…Should he continue on his quest with the now partially destroyed document? Or should he head back to his hangout and grab the other copy which he had so meticulously hidden inside the drawer in his desk?
By now, Daalnani has started pacing up and down his room, much like a hyena in its pen at the Delhi Zoo, fidgeting vigorously with the pen in his hand. His otherwise immaculate room was littered with sheaves of paper, flitting around in the blast of cooled air blowing in from the air cooler. Despite the balmy evening, the cooler was set to maximum speed, and yet Daalnani continued to sweat like an Alaskan huskie having been made to run a marathon in Chennai in May. He looked at his watch again – it was 12:03 AM! He couldn’t wait any longer. With two smart claps and a slightly drawn out “Next!” he settled down, making himself comfortable on the bed’s edge again.
Ayush had finally made up his mind. He could not afford to delay things any further – he had to take a decision and stick with it! After all, wasn’t this exactly the kind of situation that he was being trained for? Even in the future, he would come face-to-face with such monumental moments in life…and he would have to learn to live with the consequences of the decisions he took. He decided to rush back and get the second sheet. As he started running back, he cursed himself for not having carried the duplicate along to begin with. Reaching his building, he ran up, three stairs at a time, till he had reached the top floor. Gasping for breath, he burst in through the door, and was surprised to see that his girlfriend, Pooja, still seated there. She was equally baffled to see him back so soon and had just started uttering a “Weren’t you supposed to…” when Ayush articulated a Bollywood heroinesque gasp and shouted “It’s gone!”
A floating head appeared in the doorway and uttered a barely audible “May I come in, sir”. Daalnani looked up and nodded his approval. “Oh good. It’s Smelly Smriti! She’s now going to face the full brunt of Ayush not being here on time” he thought vindictively. The floating head was followed by the body that it was attached to as Smriti demurely entered the room, closing the door behind her. She opened the folder, onto which she had been clutching dearly, and extracted the sheet of paper and handed it over to Daalnani. Without even asking her to sit, Daalnani proceeded to wreak havoc on the sheet of paper, scratching off and correcting almost every other word that Smriti had written, reprimanding her continuously, while she stood there with her head hung low. Just as Daalnani was about to admonish Smriti for having put a full stop at the end of the sentence, the door flew open, and silhouetted against the floodlights, stood Ayush!
“What’s gone?” she inquired patiently.
“The sheet…the thing…the document…I had kept it right here…the drawer…two copies…it was here…” Ayush started.
“Is this what you are looking for?” she asked, dangling the sheet of paper that she had been reading when he entered, in front of him
“Yes! What were you…?” Ayush grabbed it with both hands, his confusion beginning to turn into anger.
“Oh well! I just thought I could do with some bed time reading…” she chuckled.
Not in a position to argue, Ayush turned around, and sprinted back, leaping five steps at a time on his way down. People stopped in their tracks and stared as he tore past them. He ran like his life depended on it…he ran like Forrest Gump and Usain Bolt had decided to mate and produced him as their offspring…he ran like there was no tomorrow. And finally, he had reached the building that housed the dreaded Daalnani. Clutching a stitch in his side, Ayush climbed up the stairs as fast as his unwilling legs could, and burst into the room without even knocking.
“Where the hell have you been? Do you know what time it is? Is this what I taught you regarding the sanctity of deadlines? No, you’re not late, you are rude and selfish…” Ayush was met with a barrage of tirades as he stepped into the room. Daalnani stood up, the pad that had been resting on lap went crashing onto the floor. Smelly Smriti backed up against the wall as Daalnani advanced menacingly towards Ayush, who found himself rooted to a spot for the second time that evening. When they were finally face-to-face (or rather face to chest in this case), Daalnani looked up at Ayush through his oversized glasses, which seemed to magnify his eyes close to a zillion times, further enhancing his owlish appearance, and whispered, “Explain yourself!”
It had started off like just any other day for Ayush. He had woken up in his own bed, next to her. As it was a Saturday, they’d lazed around a while longer, eventually getting ready and heading for lunch. The afternoon was spent catching up on the latest episodes of Breaking Bad, with them having a long discussion on whether they would have done such things had life presented them with a similar situation. However, the meeting at 12 had been playing the back on Ayush’s head since the evening. He had finalized the document the day before itself and had taken two copies of the same from the printer on the 2nd floor. Ayush had managed to gulp down some dinner, but as the clock wound closer to midnight, he had become increasingly nervous. At 11:45, he carefully folded one copy of the document into half, rolled it up like a piece of parchment and headed out of the door. It was a good 10 minute walk to the meeting room and he would arrive with a good five minutes to spare. The path was lined with trees and well lit, but Ayush kept looking back apprehensively as he couldn’t get over this unnerving feeling that he was being followed. He reached the building entrance at 11:55. There was no one else in sight. Ayush sighed loudly, trying to compose himself, and unrolled the document to have one final look at it before he headed upstairs. And then, it happened…
“What happened?!” asked Daalnani exasperatedly.
“I was bombed” replied Ayush sheepishly. It was Smriti’s turn to gasp.
Daalnani continued to stare at him, perhaps perplexed to this extent for the first time in his life.
Slowly, Ayush took out the first copy of his resume and showed it to his Placecom rep Daalnani. There was a huge splotch on the paper that Ayush held out, where the bird poop had now started drying up.

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